OXFORD, Miss. — The first half of Mississippi’s college basketball season has been full of frustration, close losses and a sinking sensation that the season might be over before it really started.

A couple huge baskets by Breein Tyree on Saturday changed the Rebels’ mood in a hurry.

Tyree scored 16 points, including two tough layups at the rim in the final minute, to lead Ole Miss over Mississippi State 64-58. It was an ugly win for the Rebels — who struggled on offense for most of the game — but coach Andy Kennedy isn’t concerned with how they look.

“I thought it was beautiful,” Kennedy said. “When you sit where I sit and you get a win, one against Mississippi State, it’s a beautiful win.”

Ole Miss (9-6, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) has won eight out of the past nine against Mississippi State. Deandre Burnett led the Rebels with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Devontae Shuler added 10.

Mississippi State (13-2, 1-1) pushed ahead 34-28 by halftime on balanced scoring. The Bulldogs came into the game with the SEC’s best defense — they give up about 63 points per game — and continually forced Ole Miss into settling for contested jumpers in the first half.

But the Rebels started making better decisions in the second half and took a 54-53 lead on Tyree’s free throw with 4:45 remaining. From that point, it was a close game, but Tyree’s driving layups in the final minute proved to be the difference.

“It’s always great to see shots go in,” Tyree said. “That’s always a plus. I was just trying to make a play to help our team win and that’s what happened.”

Both of Tyree’s crucial shots were contested, but the 6-foot-2, 192-pounder muscled his way over and through Mississippi State’s defense to finish at the rim. The sophomore has played well in two straight games — he scored 17 points against Georgia on Wednesday — and the Rebels hope there’s more where that came from during the season’s final two months.

“It’s so good for him to put together back-to-back good games because I need his voice on that court,” Kennedy said.

Mississippi State was led by Nick Weatherspoon and Aric Holman, who both scored nine points. The Bulldogs were 0 of 13 from 3-point range in the second half.

Mississippi State was coming off an impressive win against No. 22 Arkansas and had its chances against the Rebels, but a 50-39 lead slowly evaporated over the final 10 minutes.

“We’ve just got to play smarter down the stretch with the ball,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “We got a little tentative late in the game.”

KENNEDY GETS NO. 100

Kennedy became the 23rd coach in SEC history to win 100 conference games. He has a 100-89 record vs. SEC foes over 12 years at the school.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: It’s a difficult loss for the Bulldogs, who controlled a large portion of the game. Mississippi State’s shooting touch went cold in the second half and now the Bulldogs have another tough game against Florida looming.

Ole Miss: The Rebels are struggling on offense, but found a way to pull out a win against their rival. Burnett and Tyree had several good moments and Ole Miss needs more of them if the Rebels are going to be a factor in the SEC race.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State travels to face Florida on Wednesday.

Ole Miss travels to face Auburn on Tuesday.


More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org .