Ole Miss basketball coach speaks highly of OUA competition during summer tour

Photo by Marc Lafleur
Photo by Marc Lafleur

Contributed By: Chris McKee (Twitter: @mrmckee)

OTTAWA – The Duke Canada Tour games against Ryerson and the University of Toronto made much of the headlines with the games being televised across Canada on TSN and the United States on ESPN. The Blue Devils, however, weren't the only major American program that ventured north of the border this summer to test themselves against various programs across the OUA.

The University of Mississippi Runnin' Rebels, another strong NCAA program, also played a series of matchups against U SPORTS opponents throughout August, which included two tilts against top OUA talent – the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Ole Miss and their first year head coach Kermit Davis quickly found out just how good Carleton can be when they held the Rebels scoreless for a run of nearly six minutes in the first quarter to jump out to a 26-14 lead. Ole Miss couldn't recover from their slow start and ended up losing 81-63 to a Ravens squad that went 23-0 last season during OUA conference play before being upset by Ryerson in the semifinal of the U SPORTS Final 8.

Davis came away really impressed with Carleton and following the game he said, "They're very well coached and a very good team and I think they'd be an NCAA tournament team for sure."

Davis just took over the Ole Miss job this summer after 16 seasons at the helm of Middle Tennessee, where he compiled a record of 332-188 and appearances in the NCAA tournament in two of the past three years.

After their loss to Carleton, the Runnin' Rebels still seemed to be a little dazed in their tilt against the Gee-Gees, at one point trailing Ottawa by 27 points. The NCAA squad eventually dug themselves out of the hole to edge the Gee-Gees 85-74. Ole Miss senior guard Terence Davis led the way for the Rebels with 23 points and 16 rebounds while Gage Sabean was the top-scorer for Ottawa with 20 points, including six three-pointers.

Looking ahead to this season, the Gee-Gees will be looking to build on their impressive 2017-18 campaign that saw them go 17-6 in OUA play.

According to NCAA rules, each school is allowed to take a foreign tour every four years and more and more big name programs are coming to Canada each year. This year's list of schools included Duke and Cincinnati, as well as Ole Miss who competes in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) against the likes of Kentucky, Florida, and Alabama.

Davis spoke highly about the level of competition his Ole Miss squad faced on the tour of Canada compared to other foreign tours he has been on in the past. He said, "All four teams we faced have been the best competition for us as a whole."

Ole Miss ended their tour of Canada with a 3-1 record and will tip off their season November 10 against Western Michigan.