MEMPHIS • A frantic Ole Miss comeback fell short, and No. 16 Memphis, without its best player, dealt the Rebels their first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon.
Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree was good at the beginning and the end, but in the middle Memphis contained he and Devontae Shuler, the Rebels’ experienced backcourt threats, in an 87-86 win before 17,875 fans at the FedEx Forum.
After trailing by 16 in the second half Ole Miss got it back to a 3-point game and had Tyree at the free-throw line with 5.3 seconds left.
Officials ruled that Tyler Harris had fouled Tyree on the floor, and not in the act of shooting a 3-pointer, thereby denying him three free throws and a chance to tie the game.
“I was going and trying to get to the rim, and I just remember both of them saying, ‘foul, foul, foul.’ I went to shoot it, and they fouled me. That’s the ref’s decision and just part of the game,” Tyree said.
Tyree missed the second free throw, and Memphis dunked in transition to seal the deal. The Tigers had 20 points in transition for the game at times beating the Rebels with a long football-type pass down the floor.
Blake Hinson’s desperation heave gave him his fourth 3-pointer and made it closer at the end. The Ole Miss sophomore had 15 points in 21 minutes in his first game back after what has been termed a “blood abnormality.”
Memphis, playing without 7-foot-1 freshman James Wiseman, a projected No. 1 draft pick in 2020 who has been suspended by the NCAA, blocked nine shots and outscored the Rebels 52-20 in the paint.
Precious Achiuwa, a 6-9 freshman, had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Memphis (6-0) built a 64-48 lead on his layup with 11 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game.
“They killed us around the goal, driving it, offensive rebounding,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said.
The Rebels (4-1) battled foul trouble trying to guard the athletic Tigers (5-1). Five players picked up two fouls in the first half including center Khadim Sy who played only four of the first 20 minutes.
Sy finished with nine points, six rebounds and two assists, all in the second half.
Sophomore KJ Buffen, the Rebels’ top low-post scorer, fouled out with 13 points and six rebounds with 10:10 left in the game.
Tyree led Ole Miss with 24 points. He had seven points before the game was 3 minutes old and 12 in the last 4:22.
“Credit them. I thought some of those times we got to the rim we got fouled,” Tyree said. “Like I said, that’s a part of the game. You just got to keep playing.”