OXFORD, Miss. — Deandre Burnett scored 17 points, 12 in the second half Monday and Mississippi placed four players in double figures to defeat Eastern Kentucky 85-75.
Terence Davis scored 16 points with six rebounds for the Rebels (2-0) who led by as many as 19 points, 80-61, on a layup by Davis with 4:46 left.
Ole Miss had second half runs of 7-0 and 12-3 to keep the Colonels at a safe distance.
Devontae Shuler scored 12 points while Markel Crawford had 10 points, 5 assists and 2 steals. The Rebels never trailed and led 40-34 at halftime.
“We only had 8 turnovers, but we are still not making the right decisions enough in our shot selection,” Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. “But, what I liked the most about our players was when they took the fight to us, we never flinched.”
Nick Mayo and Dedric Boyd had 19 points apiece and Jackson Davis added 11 for the Colonels (1-1). Eastern Kentucky shot 26 of 51 (51 percent) from the field, 6 of 12 from 3-point range and 17 of 22 (77 percent) from the free throw line.
“Give Ole Miss credit, they are really good. They hit big shots, that’s what they do,” Eastern Kentucky coach Dan McHale said. “But I’m proud of our guys and how they battled and played hard to the end. They never backed down.”
Ole Miss shot 30 of 63 (48 percent), 10 of 22 (46 percent) from 3-point range, including 4 of 5 from Burnett. The Rebels were 15 of 22 (68 percent) from the free throw line and out rebounded the Colonels, 33-30, with Marcanvis Hymon getting a team-high 10 rebounds.
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels of the Ohio Valley Conference have a solid inside-outside punch with the 6-foot-9 Mayo and Boyd, the freshman combo guard, who added 3 rebounds. Mayo was 7 of 9 from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds and added 2 assists. Overall, the Colonels made it interesting, but could not match the firepower of Ole Miss on the perimeter.
“He’s special,” said McHale, evaluating Mayo, a two-time OVC All-Conference selection. “He does it every night and that’s being the top priority on everybody’s scouting report. He’s a humble man and makes coaching a lot of fun.”
Mississippi: The Rebels preserved the lead by grabbing 10 offensive rebounds in the second half. Inside, Bruce Stevens and Hymon combined for 13 points and 16 rebounds. Ole Miss struggled occasionally with shot selection in half-court offense, but scored 18 points off Eastern Kentucky turnovers and never allowed a serious comeback.
BACK ABOVE .500
Ole Miss moved above .500 for the first time in program history going all the back to January 12, 1959, improving to 1,283-1,282.
“That’s an amazing stat, isn’t it?” asked Kennedy. “Who was the president? Eisenhower? Wow. I know I’m 97 games above .500 here.”
Kennedy has accounted for 236 of the Ole Miss wins, the most in school history.
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Kentucky State Thursday in their home opener.
Mississippi: The Rebels host Georgia State Friday in an undercard division game of the MGM Grand Main Event.