OXFORD • Breein Tyree overcame his back pain, but the pain of losing lingers for Ole Miss.
Tyree, the Rebels’ senior guard, scored a career-high 36 points, but LSU defeated Ole Miss 80-76 before 8,043 fans at The Pavilion on Saturday night.
It was the fifth-straight loss for Ole Miss, which hasn’t won since defeating Tennessee Tech here on Dec. 29.
Tyree missed the Rebels’ 71-57 loss at Florida on Tuesday with what was described as a lower back contusion. He was expected to play against LSU, but Rebels coach Kermit Davis wasn’t sure how much.
Tyree scored 13 of the Rebels’ first 18 points, helping them to a 36-36 halftime tie. At times the Tigers had three players close enough to get a hand on him.
The Rebels had trouble getting the ball to Tyree on key possessions in the final minutes. Once, the play for Tyree was there, but freshman Austin Crowley took – and missed – the shot.
They did find Tyree after a timeout with 1 minute, 24 seconds left, down 74-71, and he missed a 3 from the key.
“It’s very frustrating, especially for me,” Tyree said. “I’m trying to give this team everything I’ve got, and I know my teammates are doing everything they can. We just can’t get a win. Being the only senior on the team I don’t want to go out and give Rebel Nation this image of me losing games.”
Struggling teams often find ways to lose, and a 9-for-19 night at the free throw line stung for Ole Miss. Tyree was 9-for-9 from the free throw line, his teammates 0-for-10.
The Rebels (9-8, 0-4 SEC) shot 81.5 percent from the free throw line here against Arkansas a week ago, 80 percent at Florida.
Tyree was 12-for-20 from the floor and 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
Ole Miss defended LSU’s leading scorer, Skylar Mays, most of the night, but Mays scored at the rim twice late, once giving the Tigers (13-4, 5-0 SEC) a 74-71 lead, and later after Devontae Shuler went for a steal when the Mays bucket resulted in a 76-71 edge.
The only time Tyree showed signs of back pain was an awkward layup after a steal when it looked like he gave some thought to a dunk.
“He scored 13 before we could catch our breath. We didn’t have an answer for him,” LSU coach Will Wade said.
He was 7-for-11 shooting in the first half, and his pull-up jumper with 6 seconds left tied things at the break.
Ole Miss got steals on its first three possessions and at one point led 21-12.
“We had mental lapses that the average fan can’t see,” Davis said. “We had breakdowns you can’t make against a team like that.”