|Ole Miss O||UT D||UT O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||50.5% (100)||43.6% (34)||47.2% (206)||42.5% (17)|
|TO%||16.3% (13)||17.9% (294)||19.7% (128)||24.6% (24)|
|OR%||37.2% (42)||27.2% (28)||34.4% (100)||32% (174)|
|FTR||37.4 (122)||32.9 (121)||45.3 (19)||34.5 (154)|
The season begins in earnest tonight for both the Rebels and the Vols as SEC play opens. The Vols have been one of the most schizophrenic teams in the conference offensively this season. They scored just 38 and 36 points against Georgetown and Virginia in back-to-back home losses in late November into December. There were 54 and 57 possessions respectively in those 2 games. In their last game, an 85-80 (70-possession) home loss to Memphis, the Vols scored 52 points in the second half alone. It seems that the Vols are not one to force their own tempo, instead try and match the tempo of their opponent, which should play into the Rebels’ hands tonight. The Rebels average 72.5 possessions per game, which 17th in the country and slightly more than possessions more than UT averages (64.2)
Where the Vols have been solid all season is forcing teams in to bad shots and then rebounding the ball defensively. They don’t force a lot of turnovers, but they guard shooters well. Opponents are shooting an abysmal 27.6% from the 3-point line, so it will be key for Marshall Henderson to continue his steady shooting and playing within the offense tonight.
Keeping the Vols off the FT line is critical tonight as well. They are in the top 20 nationally in FTR and score 24.4% of their points from the foul line, which coincidentally ranks 19th in the country as well. Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway will need to be smart on both ends of the court as they contend with Jarnell Stokes, Kenny Hall, and Josh Richardson down low.
This is a game the Rebels should win. We open the road in the SEC for the 11th time in 13 seasons – thank you "random scheduling" – but it’s a winnable game. We will need to force the tempo and take good shots. Memphis exposed some flaws in the Vols’ D and the Rebels will need to attack in a similar way. Shooting a high % from outside will help give Murph and Buck more room to operate against a formidable UT frontcourt. The rebounding battle on the Rebels’ offensive end should be fun tonight as both teams excel in that area.
The other key matchup and one that will probably have the most impact on how this game turns out is the PG battle between Jarvis Summers and Trae Golden. If Summers can avoid foul trouble and stay in the game, we should be able to dictate the pace of the game. Summers has been masterful at protecting the ball this year - 48:10 A:TO ratio – and with the Vols struggling to force turnovers, that means more shots taken by the Rebels and more opportunities for 2nd chance points.
Ole Miss 72 Tennessee 64
Nick Williams leads the team in scoring with 18
Murph gets another double double with 10 points, 14 rebounds
(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)