USA TODAY Sports
|Ole Miss O||Ark D||Ark O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||50.2% (103)||47.5% (148)||50.7% (83)||43.4% (25)|
|TO%||16.1% (10)||24.3% (28)||15.6% (4)||23.4% (43)|
|OR%||36.6% (53)||34% (250)||33.6% (120)||31% (136)|
|FTR||39.9 (74)||41.7 (289)||34.6 (198)||33.8 (137)|
Arkansas rolls into town, fresh off a double OT win over Auburn Wednesday night. The Hogs are one of just two other teams in the league averaging more than 70 possessions per game, so tomorrow’s game should be played at a fan-friendly fast pace. The Rebels finally took control of the Vanderbilt game when, with about 8:30 left in regulation, they started getting out in transition, making baskets, and then pressing VU’s ballhandlers, making them play quickly. Both the Rebels and Hogs will be in their comfort zone as far as pace of play goes from the opening tomorrow morning though.
Both these teams also shoot the ball effectively – both 50%+ eFG% - and each has proven effective at not only protecting the ball on offense (both in top 10 in the country in Offensive TO%) but also forcing opponents into turnovers. Where the teams differ – and where the Rebels should have a decided advantage – is rebounding and the ability to get to the free throw line. The Hogs don’t get there much, but – even more advantageous to the Rebels – is that they have struggled preventing opponents from getting there. Counting conference games only, the Rebs lead the SEC with an incredible 57.1 FTR.
The Hogs are incredibly effective in the short- to mid-range game. They struggle behind the arc (31.6%) and are respectable from the FT line (68.0%) but really excel on 2-pointers (52.0%). The Rebels came out flat-footed Tuesday night against a red-hot Vanderbilt team and if not for the unavoidable "Regression to the Mean" on Vandy’s 3P%, might have dropped a heartbreaker in Nashville. Unlike Vandy, Arkansas’ big men – particularly Marshawn Powell (15ppg, 6 rpg, 59.1% eFG%) – actually play big, and will be a handful for Buck and Murph inside.
The key to containing the Hogs though is slowing down BJ Young (17 ppg, 4rpg, 4apg, 50.7% eFG%). He’s not overpowering at 6’3, 180lbs, but he’s big and quick enough to create some matchup difficulties. I was surprised that AK Jarvis Summers check Mizzou’s Phil Pressey last Saturday and then even more surprised at how effective Summers was as disrupting Pressey’s game. (As an aside, Summers does not get nearly the credit he deserves this year. I think you could make a compelling argument that he – moreso than Henderson or Holloway is the MVP of this team). Summers will likely team with Snoop White and Nick Williams guarding Young tomorrow. If Martavious Newby plays, he’ll likely be tasked with Young as well. ESPN views Young as a 1st round pick and containing him will be imperative. He scored 22 points in 47 minutes Wednesday night, so maybe he’ll show signs of fatigue if the tempo remains high.
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but this a huge game tomorrow afternoon. Win this one, you’re 4-0 and sitting atop the conference, ranked, and staring down two more very winnable games next week. Lose it though, and you’re tied with Arkansas and likely others at 3-1 and a lot of the positive momentum surrounding this team (and athletic program as a whole) is gone. The game will be a sell out again and the atmosphere should be equivalent to or better than the Mizzou game last weekend.
(Sure to be terribly, terribly wrong) Predictions:
Ole Miss 81 Arkansas 75
Like the VU game, this one will be closer than it should be, but the Rebs find a way to emerge victorious
Ole Miss hits 10 more FTs than Arkansas and outrebounds them by 7
Henderson struggles in the first half before a spurt of three 3s in 2 minutes in the second half
(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)