Matthew Murrell scored a game-high 16 points and Myles Burns added a season-high 13 as Ole Miss overcame early troubles to post a 72-68 victory over UT Martin Friday night in Oxford, Miss.
Burns added eight rebounds as the Rebels started 4-0 for the third time in four seasons.
The Skyhawks held a double-digit lead early in the second half, but faded under relentless Ole Miss pressure. Indiana transfer Parker Stewart led UT Martin in scoring with 13 points but KJ Simon, whose 16.3 scoring average led the team entering the game, managed only seven, all in the second half, before fouling out.
KK Curry (12 points) and Desmond Williams and Chris Nix (10 apiece) also were in double figures for UT Martin.
After blowing the big lead and falling behind 66-56 with 4:24 remaining, the Skyhawks cut the gap down to 70-68 with 16 seconds left on Simon’s layup.
TJ Caldwell then sealed the win for Ole Miss with two free throws with 10.4 seconds remaining.
Both teams were plagued with turnovers and poor free-throw shooting. Ole Miss had 17 turnovers and was 25 of 38 from the line. UT Martin had 19 turnovers and was 9 of 15 on free throws.
For a second straight game the Rebels got off to a slow start as the visiting Skyhawks took an early 20-15 lead by going 8 of 14 from the field.
The Rebels caught up at 20-20 and held brief leads, the last at 29-28, before going cold from the floor. They went 1 of 10 over the final six minutes of the period, and the Skyhawks took advantage for a 39-32 halftime lead by outscoring the Rebels 11-3 down the stretch.
The Skyhawks continued their surge to start the second half and pulled out to a 12-point lead. That’s when the Rebels stepped up the pressure on defense and went on a 17-2 run to take a 50-47 lead midway through the second half. Murrell hit three shots, including a 3-pointer, and added two free throws to contribute nine of the Rebels’ 17 during that stretch.
–Field Level Media