NASHVILLE • As SEC athletics directors met Wednesday to consider drastic changes for the basketball tournament, Ole Miss struggled against a Georgia team that got minimal scoring from its best player.
Freshman Anthony Edwards had just six points – more than 13 below his average – but the Bulldogs shot 54.5 percent and eliminated the Rebels 81-63 at Bridgestone Arena before a sparse gathering that included a number of interested Kentucky fans.
Locking the doors
After the game, the conference announced that due to concerns about the possible spread of the coronavirus the remaining games will be played before only essential staff, limited family and credentialed media.
Ole Miss ends its second season under Kermit Davis at 15-17 after reaching the NCAA Tournament last year.
The Bulldogs (16-16) separated themselves with an 11-0 first-half run and did so without a bucket from Edwards.
“They had more energy, more physical. We tried to make a run, but we couldn’t guard for any length of time,” Davis said. “We did a great job on Edwards. You thought if you did that you’d have a chance to win.”
While Edwards didn’t score in bunches he impacted the game with four assists and with his defense against Breein Tyree, Georgia coach Tom Crean said.
Forward Rayshaun Hammonds and guard Jordan Harris picked up the scoring slack with 22 and 21 points, respectively. They were a combined 17 for 24 from the floor as Georgia shot 54.5 percent.
In his final game, Tyree led the Rebels with 18 points. He surpassed 20 points 15 times this season but not in his last five games.
Devontae Shuler had 17 points.
The Rebels got a floater from Devontae Shuler with 12 minutes, 6 seconds left in the first half to make it 14-10 but didn’t score again until Shuler scored in the paint again at the 6:01 mark.
It was then that Tyree began to heat up, mostly from the perimeter, and Ole Miss was down five with a chance to take momentum into the locker room.
The Rebels, though, couldn’t close their final defensive possessions. Hammonds hit a 3 from the key, and after a Rebels miss Sahvir Wheeler launched another from just across halfcourt as time expired. Ole Miss trailed 41-30 at halftime.
Edwards was just 2 for 13 shooting, but it was his 3-pointer on the second possession of the second half that gave Georgia a 16-point lead.
Ole Miss cut the lead to nine with 5:58 left, but on its next three possessions Tyree and Blake Hinson missed 3s, and Shuler missed a fastbreak layup.
“We got it to nine, and all we talked about was driving the ball,” Davis said. “Breein shot one from 28, the next trip Blake shot one. We could have gotten it maybe to five and really made it a game.”