By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky likely will have two keys to beating Mississippi Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
First, the Wildcats will have to find a way to contain Breein Tyree, who had 40 points in an 83-58 win over Mississippi State earlier this week and outscored the Bulldogs 27-24 in the second half. He hit 13 of 22 shots — including four 3-pointers — and 10 of 11 free throws.
A week earlier Breein had 38 points on when he made 12 of 21 shots, including three 3-pointers, and 11 of 13 free throws in an 84-70 win over South Carolina to earn SEC Player of the Week honors.
“He’s so fast and some of these strong guards in college today, they get their shoulders by you, they get you on their side and they’ve got such great strength. He’s got great bounce at the rim at the end. He can get up and finish over guys. He started making 3’s. As a coach, that is just fun to watch,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said.
“I don’t remember a guy like that as a guard who can just go and get 40. He scored at every level, at the rim, step back from three. I’ve been coaching a long time, and that’s probably the best I’ve ever seen.”
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland used all his timeouts in the second half trying to find a way to stop the Mississippi star but it obviously did not work.
“We got to about the 10-minute mark, and I had no timeouts left. Give him credit. He is a tremendous player. He is coming off of SEC Player of the Week a week ago where he played great,” Howland said. “Give the kid a lot of credit. He made some tough shots with guys on him. Early in the game, we did a tremendous job against him. But like the veteran he is, he got it going.”
Mississippi State used a 13-0 run in the first half against Ole Miss before the Rebels (13-11, 4-7 SEC) started using a 1-3-1 zone that allowed them to outscore Mississippi State 50-24 in the second half.
“I’ve been running that for 13 years now, and that’s one of the best it’s been. We’ve got some big wins while doing it. With the foul trouble, we got it going earlier than the second half. We had two guys with three fouls and three with two,” Davis said. “We just got into a good rhythm. We took the scout into the game where they were when the ball was on the baseline. Credit our guys, they did a wonderful job tonight.”
The zone didn’t surprise State but it sure befuddled their offense.
“They have been very effective at it over the years. Part of it is that you don’t see it every day, and it’s hard to simulate as good as they do it,” Howland said. “Obviously, we had a poor attack, and that’s on me as the coach. Our players understand how to attack, so I take full responsibility on that.
“We talked about how we had to attack it. The double team bothered us. They really fed off of the turnovers. They had 27 points off of our turnovers, and we ended up losing by 25. And you look at the turnover situation, 17 of them, so many led to easy baskets. Once they had the lead, Tyree took the game over.”