OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's Sebastian Saiz has a wide 6-foot-9, 240-pound body and an aggressive demeanor around the basket. When it comes to rebounding, his strategy is extremely simple.
“I just try to get them all,” Saiz said with a grin.
The senior nearly did on Monday night. It was his 19th rebound that led to the game-winning tip-in with 3.3 seconds left and lifted the Rebels over UMass 90-88.
Ole Miss (2-0) trailed for almost the entire second half before a late rally delivered the victory. On the Rebels' final offensive play, DeAndre Burnett drove to the basket, but missed on a contested layup. Saiz was there for the tip-in and UMass missed on its final 3-point attempt.
Saiz's clutch basket capped a frantic 11-0 run for the Rebels in the final minutes. UMass took an 88-79 lead on a Donte Clark jumper with 3:49 remaining, but the Minutemen never scored again.
“At the end, I thought we were in attack mode,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “They tried to pressure. When you pressure you expose the open floor. I thought we made some plays at the basket. We were fortunate.”
Saiz finished with 22 points and the 19 rebounds were a career high. He made 4 of 9 shots from the field and 14 of 18 free throws. Cullen Neal added 21 points.
UMass (1-1) fell into an early 10-point hole, but rallied to take a 48-40 lead by halftime. Freshman DeJon Jarreau led the Minutemen with 25 points while Zach Lewis added 20.
Both teams fought through foul trouble late in the game during a whistle-filled evening. UMass was called for 29 fouls while Ole Miss had 28.
UMass coach Derek Kellogg said the outcome was frustrating, but it was a good learning experience for his young team.
“I'd like them to have a lot of different emotions,” Kellogg said. “The biggest is this should bother us and hurt us. But also a feeling that we opened some eyes that we can play some good basketball when we're clicking on all cylinders.”
Kennedy on Ole Miss struggling to handle the ball with 17 turnovers: “From the naked eye, I'm looking at it like a fire sale where I am. I'm thinking what in the world are we doing? Because I know what we practice, and I just don't see it transfer over. But it looks like we're just not comfortable.”
UMass: It was a tough night for the Minutemen, who had control of the game throughout most of the second half only to see it slip away in the final minutes. UMass has to be encouraged by the play of Jarreau, who scored at will at times against the Rebels.
Ole Miss: It was a monster game for Saiz, who the Rebels are counting on to have a big season. Neal's consistent scoring so far this year has been an added bonus.
UMass: The Minutemen return home to face Temple on Thursday.
Ole Miss: The Rebels face Oral Roberts on Friday in Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.