Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE
|Ole Miss O||UT D||UT O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||47.8% (8)||47.3% (6)||49.4% (4)||46.1% (5)|
|TO%||16.8% (1)||16.3% (13)||17.7% (3)||19.9% (9)|
|OR%||35.7% (3)||31.6% (7)||32.6% (6)||28.9% (3)|
|FTR||46.3 (1)||49.3 (13)||30.8 (11)||27.2 (4)|
Now that we’re 4 games into the conference season, I’ve switched to only viewing the stats accumulated in SEC play. How well you defended the Directional University of the Upper Midwest State College Unicorns is all but irrelevant now.
There’s a lot of hype for this one, not only because the Rebels are 4-0 in conference and ranked in both polls, but because of Marshall Henderson. He lit up the Vols for 32 in Knoxville 15 days ago and let their fans know about it. Even their beat writers – looking at you Wes Rucker – got butt-hurt about it and took to the Twitterverse to share their sour grapes.
This game is about a lot more than Henderson though and I trust AK and his staff to recognize that as well. There was a great discussion here earlier this week about the MVP of this Rebels team. My vote – and several others’ – went to Jarvis Summers. He doesn’t have the gaudiest stats – nor does he need to – but he gets the offense in a position to score, primarily by not turning the ball over. We’ve protected the ball better than any other team in conference games so far, and UT has struggled to force turnovers. Ole Miss committed just 11 TOs on 7 possessions (14.4%) in Knoxville earlier this month. Duplicating that sort of ball protection will be a nice foundation for this game as well.
Same goes for the rebounding effort from Knoxville. The Vols sport a formidable frontcourt, but both Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner dominated the paint on both ends of the court. The Rebs grabbed 37.8% of offensive rebounds and held UT to just 21.4%, which is more than 11% below their conference average. The Rebels also amassed a ridiculous FTR of 75.9 and then backed that up with 86.4% FT shooting. Henderson himself overcame a poor night from 3 (3/12) to hit 13/14 FTs.
All that said, I don’t expect this game to be quite as easy tonight. This is the first game for many Rebs to play as a ranked team. How will they handle that? Tennessee will certainly be more focused this game after getting embarrassed on their home court. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has challenged his players and I expect them to respond and play well, perhaps even be up at the half. This Rebels team though is too good and too hungry for a Vols’ upset to happen though.
(Surely to be terribly, terribly incorrect) Predictions
Ole Miss 78 Tennessee 71
This game, more than the earlier edition, will be determined by the big guys in the paint. Buckner is on a monstrous streak right now and that should continue tonight. Tennessee’s guys are good, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a legitimate reason to go against Buck and Murph right now.
At least one technical foul tonight, as Tennessee players will be chirping at Henderson about everything. Going to be imperative for Henderson to not get sucked into that
While not as overwhelming as last game, Rebs ride their FT advantage to the victory
(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)