Here's how the Rebels (6-0) match up with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-2) using the Four Factors. (National Rank in Parentheses)
|Ole Miss O||MTSU D||MTSU O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||50.6% (95)||47.6% (156)||50.1% (110)||37.6% (2)|
|TO%||14.9% (5)||24.5% (47)||19.9% (129)||26.8% (12)|
|OR%||39.7% (25)||29.5% (91)||39.6% (26)||31.3% (150)|
|FTR||43.3 (61)||45.9 (300)||45.3 (44)||36.6 (184)|
The Rebels will try to avenge a very discouraging loss from last season Saturday afternoon as they take on a solid MTSU team in Murfreesboro. The Blue Raiders are a better team than Rutgers and have a lot of balance scoring the ball, with 6 guys averaging 6+ ppg. MTSU lost to a good Akron team in OT on the road on Sunday and were blitzed by Florida earlier in the year. G Marcos Knight and F Shawn Jones score 13.1 and 10.4 ppg respectively to lead the team. Knight is something of a chucker though, sporting a paltry 42.7 eFG% this season and averaging only 1.4 assists per game. He is an outstanding rebounder from the guard position though, averaging 6.1 rpg.
While the Blue Raiders aren't overly careful with the ball, a 19.9% TO% isn't necessarily fatal, particularly when you shoot the ball as well as they do – 50.1% eFG%. With the Rebels hounding teams into an incredible 37.6% eFG% this season, it will be interesting to see how MTSU handles the pressure. The Rebels did a great job on Rutgers' Eli Carter, forcing him into a 1-12 shooting day. While Knight is stronger - 6-2, 216 – he will likely find tough sledding in the lane. Like the Rebels, the Blue Raiders get to the FT line a lot, and while their 68% FT% isn't spectacular, it’s 5% higher than the Rebels.
That’s not to say there aren’t some area the Rebels can look to exploit Saturday. MTSU struggles keeping teams off the FT line with a defensive FTR of 45.9. The Rebels have been adept at getting to the line this season. Converting… well… not so much. Even if not converting, amassing fouls on the other team is never a bad thing.
One area the Rebels have not struggled to convert is on 2-point FGAs. The Rebels are 14th in the country shooting 55.7% on 2-pointers. MTSU allows opponents to shoot 47.8% on 2-pointers, which is middle of the pack. This should equate to some good looks for Holloway and Buckner under the basket as well as the guards on the wings.
The defensive rebounding has been much improved over the last 2 games as Rutgers and Lipscomb combined for just 9 offensive rebounds. MTSU and the Rebels grab nearly the exact same percentage of offensive rebounds, meaning that must be a point of emphasis again Saturday. Turnovers will also be a deciding factor here. The Rebels have forced 54 more turnovers than they’ve committed this year (122:68) and need another big day against MTSU.
MTSU has played two games already this week, while the Rebels have not played since last Saturday's game against Rutgers. It took a half for the Rebels to shake off the rust offensively, but the game was an important lesson: You may not always have your shot working, but you can always play defense and always rebound. The effort in the first half was undeniable. Once the execution caught up with the effort, the Scarlet Knights were a mere speed bump.
Ole Miss 74 MTSU 63
Another close game early on, but the Rebels pull away with a strong 2nd half
The Rebels shoot more than 20 FTs and force more than 20 TOs
Nick Williams and company hound Knight into a poor shooting day. He gets his 14 points, but needs 16 shots to get there.
For the 7th time this season, the opposing coach opines post-game about having "no answer for Murphy Holloway"
(As always, the national rankings pulled from kenpom.com, quite possibly the coolest site on the whole wide intertubes... Red Cup Rebellion excluded of course)