- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi played pretty well for most of Thursday night, jumping out to a 20-point lead over Murray State by the middle of the second half. The Rebels looked well on their way to a ho-hum blowout non-conference win.

Instead, Ole Miss walked away with a 78-73 win that was much more difficult than coach Andy Kennedy would have liked.

“I’m frustrated because I know what I see and I know what we’re capable of,” Kennedy said. “I know this team has to live on a razor’s edge as it relates to focus, toughness and execution and we refuse to live there because it’s difficult.”

Deandre Burnett scored 24 points and Terence Davis added 16 points for the Rebels. Sebastian Saiz had 15 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.

Ole Miss (7-3) had a comfortable advantage for most of the game - leading 62-42 with 10:55 remaining - but a late Murray State run made things interesting. The Racers rallied to pull within 77-73 with 17.7 seconds remaining.

“We just relaxed. We can’t do that,” Saiz said. “We play really hard at times. We’ve just got to keep it up for 40 minutes.”

Kennedy was upset that the Rebels missed on so many opportunities to put the game away earlier.

“We missed eight layups,” Kennedy said. “Eight layups. For SEC scholarship players. Layups that I can make right now in this tie and these slippery shoes I’m wearing.

“We’ve got to get better.”

Burnett scored a big chunk of his points on free throws, making 14 of 16. Ole Miss shot just 22 of 62 (35.5 percent) from the field.

Murray State (5-6) was led by Terrell Miller, who scored 27 points. The 6-foot-8 junior was efficient from everywhere on the court, shooting 8 of 12 from the field, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. He added 10 rebounds and two assists.

“We’ll never, ever celebrate losing, but I’m very pleased with the fight and the way we played,” Murray State coach Matt McMahon said. “Even down 15, 18 points, we were really defending and competing. We just weren’t able to complete some plays on the offensive end.”

Ole Miss led 43-31 at halftime, taking the lead for good with 10:32 remaining in the first half on Burnett’s 3-pointer that made it 22-19.

BIG PICTURE

Ole Miss: The Rebels were able to bounce back from an 80-75 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Murray State game was the first of a four-game homestand that includes upcoming games against Bradley, South Alabama and Kentucky.

Murray State: The Racers had some good moments, but couldn’t make enough shots to stay with the Ole Miss offense. Murray State falls to 12-32 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference.

SILINS OUT FOR SEASON

Ole Miss announced on Thursday that freshman forward Karlis Silins would miss the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his left knee. The 6-foot-11 Silins had played a limited role as a backup forward, appearing in eight games for a total of 39 minutes. Freshman Nate Morris will likely have a bigger role in Silins’ absence.

UP NEXT

Ole Miss hosts Bradley on Monday night.

Murray State plays another road game against South Dakota State on Saturday.

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More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 .

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