Despite recent NCAA football sanctions, Ole Miss fans have seen some pretty spectacular wins, team plays, and individual efforts over the course of the past two semesters. As the academic year winds down, here are the five most unforgettable moments for the Ole Miss Rebels in 2016-17:
5.) Men’s Basketball Defeats Number 1 Seed Syracuse in the NIT:
Yeah, it’s not the NCAA Tournament. But let’s face it, when it comes to Ole Miss basketball, we take what we can get. So when the Rebels got a bid to the NIT as a 5 seed, they took full advantage of March madness, knocking off Monmouth on the road to set up a second round matchup with Syracuse. The Orange were the number one overall seed in the tournament, and many felt they were snubbed from the NCAA’s after a run to last year’s Final Four. Against all odds, Ole Miss came into the Carrier Dome and shocked Syracuse on the back of a 30 point performance from sophomore Terrance Davis. Fifteen threes by the Rebels led to an 85-80 upset victory, and an NIT quarterfinal home game against Georgia Tech.
4.) Football vs. Alabama:
It’s not often that we remember losses, especially devastatingly close ones against rival powerhouses. But you’d be hard pressed to forget September 17, 2016, one of the most heavily anticipated games in Ole Miss football history. The defending national champion, number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide came to Oxford for an early season tilt, looking to avenge losses to the Rebels in the previous two seasons. The game was nationally televised, and The Grove was as packed and rowdy as it has ever been. For fans lucky enough to get into the game, one of the most incredible moments was the pregame flyover during the national anthem, sending the crowd of powder blue-clad fans into a frenzy. Despite a 400+ yard performance by quarterback Chad Kelly, and a massive game from tight end Evan Engram, Ole Miss fell in a heartbreaker, 48-43. Fuck Bama, we’ll get em next year.
3.) Baseball Opens Season with Sweep:
Spirits were low in Oxford during early February 2017. Football took a huge L with self imposed sanctions, and basketball’s odds of making the NCAA tournament looked grim. Baseball looked to be the saving grace for Ole Miss sports coming off a big season last year, nationally ranked going into their home opener against East Carolina. The Pirates were ranked tenth in the nation, but that didn’t stop the Rebels from sweeping the series to kick off the season. Tens of thousands of fans packed Swayze Field for the first game, highlighted by one of the rowdiest student sections we’ve ever seen in right field. Former Rebel Errol Robinson, who currently plays in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, threw out the first pitch, and proceeded to join the student section in getting wasted on opening day. Showering Errol with champagne was quite possibly the hypest, school-spirit charged moments of the year.
2.) Terrance Davis Posterizes Georgia Tech’s Entire Frontcourt:
Georgia Tech came to The Pavilion for the NIT quarterfinals, and the winner would punch their tickets to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Coach Andy Kennedy bought out the student section, making for a savage environment and a sellout crowd. With 1:40 left in the game, and the Rebels trailing 68-62, Sebastian Saiz corralled an offensive rebound and kicked it out to a cutting Terrence Davis. It looked as if he would be trapped, with three Georgia Tech defenders twice his size collapsing on him. Out of nowhere, Davis rose up, brought the ball back with one hand, and threw down the most savage dunk of the season over all three defenders. The ESPN announcers lost their shit, the crowd went into a frenzy, and the Ole Miss bench cellied obnoxiously hard. It may have been just one play, and we may have lost the game, but it was a SportsCenter Top 10 play and one of the most dominant individual plays we have seen from an Ole Miss Rebel. That’ll be on replay in the Pavilion for a long, long time.
1.) Football Upsets #8 Texas A&M:
To this point, it had been a disappointing season for the Rebels. Entering the game in College Station, they were unranked, a game under .500, and had just lost their starting quarterback for the remainder of the year. Limping with a record of 4-5, they had the daunting task of taking on a top ten team at Texas A&M. For the first three quarters, the game went as most expected. The Rebels trailed 21-6 entering the fourth quarter, and many fans had turned off their TVs entirely, feeling no hope remained. Sparked by an incredible, one handed diving catch from Damore’ea Stringfellow, Ole Miss outscored Texas A&M 23-7 in the final quarter of play, culminating with a game winning 39-yard field goal by Gary Wunderlich with under a minute to go. True freshman quarterback Shea Patterson earned his first ever victory, 29-28, in his first ever start, dazzling the nation with his mobility and precision. For a football program that had trouble on and off the field over the past year, this was a glimmer of hope that the future is bright in Oxford.
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