NICEVILLE, FLA. – Junior guard Jarron Cumberland scored a game-high 25 points, while a stingy defense held Ole Miss to a season low in field goal percentage enabling Cincinnati to capture the Emerald Coast Classic championship with a 71-57 victory Saturday.
The encounter was a rematch of the inaugural 2014 Emerald Coast Classic championship which was won by Ole Miss, 66-54.
This time around Cincinnati took a chapter out of Ole Miss’ playbook, holding the Rebels to a season low in point production – 22.8 points under their offensive average of 79.8 points entering the game.
Ole Miss came into the game, averaging 8.0 three-point baskets but was held to a season low three treys in 24 attempts – a 14.3 shooting percentage.
“I’m going to say this, for the first time this year we looked like the last two years defensively,” said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. “The reason I say this is our team was really smart with veteran players. As the game goes on, we see what another team is trying to do to our defense.
“The players see it and don’t give it up a second time. We gave up 24 points in the second half because our guys were really in tune with what Ole Miss was trying to run against us, just as much as the coaches. “
Cumberland, who was named the tournament’s outstanding player, hit 13 of 14 free throws while the Bearcats had twice as many free throw attempts (35) than Ole Miss (17).
“We were in the bonus. So, I was trying to get fouled and get to the free throw line,” said Cumberland. “Coach always tells me not to focus on the shots I miss but just to come back and make the other ones.”
“We didn’t get off to a great start,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “I thought they were a lot more physical than we were. They moved the ball, we didn’t move the ball. We just got beat by a better team tonight.”
Redshirt junior forward Trevon Scott, sophomore guard Keith Williams and senior Cane Broom each tallied nine points for Cincinnati.
Scott grabbed a game-high nine rebounds as Cincinnati outrebounded Ole Miss, 33-27. Broome, who also was named to the all-tournament team, collected four assists and two steals.
Sophomore guard Devontae Schuler led Ole Miss with a career-high 24 points, while junior guard Breein Tyree added 14. Schuler and Tyree were also named to the all-tournament team.
Trailing, 37-29 the Rebels scored the last five points of the first half on two free throws by reserve center Dominik Olejniczak and a three-point basket from Devontae Shuler that just beat the buzzer.
Ole Miss rode that late momentum to tie the game at 41-41 on a jumper by Shuler with 14:47.
But Cincinnati responded reeling eight straight points to erect a 48-41 lead and never looked back.
Cincinnati returns home Tuesday playing host to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, while Ole Miss entertains San Diego Wednesday.