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The difference in the game was 3-point shooting. The Rebels were 15-of-32 (.469) from long range, one short of the record for most 3-point field goals made by a Syracuse opponent. By comparison, the Orange went 8-of-30 (.267) from beyond the arc, including 2-for-13 (.154) in the first half.
Graduate student Andrew White III and freshman Taurean Thompson led Syracuse with 18 points apiece. Rookie Tyus Battle scored 17 – all in the second half – and sophomore Tyler Lydon finished with 15 points, including 14 in the first half. Lydon contributed a game-high 14 rebounds, one off his personal best, to record his second double-double in as many games.
Terence Davis paced the Rebels with 30 points, tied for the most ever against the Orange in an NIT game. Davis went 11-of-14 from the field, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range. Deandre Burnett tallied 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and nine assists. Reserve Cullen Neal contributed 15 points off the bench and Sebastian Saiz had a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards.
The Orange struggled to shoot the ball early. Syracuse started the game 8-for-23 (.347) from the floor and missed its first nine 3-point attempts. Meanwhile, the Rebels connected on six of their first 10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to claim at 17-12 advantage midway through the first half.
Sophomore Frank Howard gave Syracuse the spark it needed to get going. He drilled SU's first trifecta of the game to tie the score at 25-all with 6:30 left in the half, and scored all seven of his points in a 12-0 run that gave SU a 34-25 advantage with 2:38 to go before intermission.
A layup by Davis at the 2:08 mark stopped the Orange scoring spurt. Davis also drained a three 40 seconds later, as the Rebels ended the half with three straight triples to cut the SU lead to 38-36 at the break.
In the second half, Ole Miss hurting the Orange from behind the arc. Davis buried two threes and Burnett made one during a 15-0 run that erased the deficit and put the visitors up four, 45-38, less than three minutes into the frame.
The Orange responded with six straight points and tied the game at 47 on a Battle 3-pointer with 14:54 to go. However, five straight points by Neal put the Rebels back on top.
Ole Miss extended the lead to six twice until White III capped an 8-2 Syracuse spurt with a 3-pointer at the 4:14 to tie the score, 71-71. Neal and White III traded threes to tie things up again at 74-all at the 3:40 mark. However, a 9-4 run by the Rebels that included two more Burnett threes put Ole Miss ahead, 83-78, with 49 second left.
A jumper by Battle with 39 ticks on the clock made it a one-possession game. White III fouled Neal on on the ensuing possession and he made both free throws to clinch the victory.
The Rebels outrebounded Syracuse, 38-36. They also held a 22-9 advantage in bench points and turned 13 Orange turnovers into 17 points.
Ole Miss hosts the winner of tomorrow's second-round game between Georgia Tech and Belmont in next week's NIT quarterfinals.