NICEVILLE, FLA. – Junior guard Breein Tyree scored a career-high 28 points, including his team’s last nine points, as ole Miss held off Baylor, 78-70, to vault into the championship of the Emerald Coast Classic.
The Rebels, under first-year coach Kermit Davis, will face Cincinnati in a rematch of the inaugural 2014 Emerald Coast Classic won by Ole Miss.
With Terence Davis, the Rebels’ leading scorer plagued by foul trouble, Tyree took over in the second half, tallying 17 points. He hit a career high 13 of 17 free throws, making seven of 10 in the game’s final 1:18.
“I definitely want the ball in my hands late in the game, especially early in the season so I can get in the flow,” said Tyree. “Coach (Kermit Davis) put me in the right positions tonight and we got a great win.”
Davis, who entered the game averaging 20.3 points, was held to just seven points before fouling out with 1:07 left in the game.
“This early in the season, it was a very physical, very competitive college game,” said Davis, whose team improved its record to 4-1. “I have a ton of respect for Scott (Drew). I think Baylor has another really good Big-12 team.
“Both teams’ sort of had foul troubles and for us to win the game with Terrance Davis in foul trouble was really good. I thought down the stretch we handled the press and did a lot better against the zone. I thought Breein Tyree was outstanding tonight and led our team. He was great from the free throw line and made some clutch plays on both ends.”
Sophomore forward Tristan Clark led Baylor with a career-high 27 points, including 20 in the second half. Guard Makai Mason added 18 points with 14 coming in the second half.
Baylor, which slipped to 3-2, will face George Mason in the third-place game at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The first half was a game of spurts.
After Baylor’s Mason scored the first basket of the game. Ole Miss went on an 18-3 run in the next six minutes with Tyree scoring eight points to lead the surge.
“I thought Ole Miss did a great job coming out and jumping on us early,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “I was proud of the guys how we fought back but the game was decided with shooting 2-18 from three. We lost the second chance battle 4 to 13 and that really hurt. We also had 18 turnovers and that is way too many. Give Ole Miss credit for causing a lot of them but we have to get better with the ball.”
Baylor answered with a 10-0 run pulling within 18-15. Later five straight free throws enabled the Bears to enjoy a 39-38 edge with 1:05 left but Ole Miss countered with a 5-0 run to close out the first half enjoying a 43-39 advantage.
“I thought we got really sped up. Baylor settled in and we couldn’t keep Mason out of the paint,” Davis added. “I really thought we got sped up offensively and played too fast. We kind of settled in to a really good college game. You have to give Baylor a lot of credit, they settled in too and Tristan Clark was really good for them.”
The Rebels shot a season low 39.3 percent from the floor (22-56), but made 29 of 36 free throws. Baylor shot 46.3 percent from the floor (25-54).
“We have a really young team, the youngest in the Power-5 with only three returning lettermen,” Drew added. “So, a lot of guys got a chance to see what it was like to play against another Power-5 school and just how intense you have to be from the beginning. I think the physicality and defensive intensity hopefully taught us a lesson and hopefully we will be a better team. That’s why you play these kinds of tournaments.”