ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Behind 16 points from Dundrecous Nelson, including a big 3-pointer down the stretch, Mississippi overcame poor free-throw shooting to beat Drake 63-59 in the Paradise Jam on Friday.
The game was a sloppy one. The teams combined for 43 turnovers."All wins are beautiful, trust me," said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy. "I'm really proud of our team because we've struggled offensively all season. We can find no rhythm but we're still finding ways to win games, which I think speaks to the toughness of this group."The Rebels (3-0) were 18 for 38 from the free-throw line."It's abysmal," Kennedy said. "Last year we shot 77 percent and led the SEC. This year we're really struggling, and it becomes contagious."The Rebels took their first lead since late in the first half when Jarvis Summers hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 54-53 with 4:04 remaining.Ben Simons answered with a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs (2-1) before Ole Miss used an 8-0 run, which included Nelson's deep 3-pointer from the left wing, to take a 62-56 lead.Simons led Drake with 22 points. He was 7 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range."We knew coming in that we could give him no space," Kennedy said. "Every time we made a mistake, he made us pay. That's what good players do."Drake was coming off a big win over in-state rival Iowa State earlier in the week."Drake is a really good basketball team," Kennedy added. "They compete really hard. I was just glad that our guys found a way to come out on top."