Daily Journal, wire reports
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Ole Miss took down an NCAA Final Four team from last season and stands one win from a trip to the Big Apple.
Terence Davis made 6 of 7 3-pointers and scored 30 points Saturday to lead the fifth-seeded Rebels to an 85-80 upset of No. 1 seed Syracuse in an NIT second-round game.
“It felt really good,” Davis said. “Anytime you get a road win, it’s pretty good. But to come into the Carrier Dome and get a major road win? In the NIT second round? It just feels really good.”
Ole Miss (22-13) advances to a quarterfinal game at home Tuesday against the winner of today’s 11 a.m. game in Atlanta between Georgia Tech and Belmont.
The winner of that game plays in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Deandre Burnett, who added 19 points and nine assists, hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:26 left after Andrew White III made a 3 to tie it 74-all.
Burnett was 5 for 9 on 3s, and the Rebels were 15 of 33 from beyond the arc against Syracuse’s zone defense, complex for the way its players shift within it, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said before the game.
“Our guys were excited about this opportunity to come in and play a Syracuse team that many thought was deserving of going to the NCAA tournament,” Kennedy said. “I’m proud of this group.”
Cullen Neal had 15 points for the Rebels and Sebastian Saiz had 10 points to go with 12 rebounds for his 24th double-double of the season.
White and Taurean Thompson led Syracuse (19-15) with 18 points apiece. Tyus Battle added 17 points and Tyler Lydon had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“This game is really a microcosm of our season,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “We fight hard, we battle. When our shots aren’t going, we aren’t able to stop the other team’s shooters.
Davis’ big day was three points off his career-high 33 points scored against LSU on Feb. 14.
“What a year this kid’s had,” Kennedy said.
A sophomore from Southaven, Davis landed in upstate New York averaging 17.6 points in the last 10 games. He had 11 points and five rebounds in the Rebels’ first-round win at Monmouth. He has increased his season scoring average by 12.6 points, the most improvement of any SEC player.
The 3-point shot has been a part of Davis’ game all season, but his best work has been done in the open floor, finishing or leading the transition game with a live ball turnover or quick outlet pass.
The Rebels needed his long-range game Saturday as they traded blows with the Orange in the second half. Syracuse was just 2 for 16 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes but found its groove in the second, going 6 for 14.
Davis’ six 3-pointers were a career-high, besting the five he hit against Texas A&M on Jan. 25.