USA TODAY Sports
|Ole Miss O||USC D||USC O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||46.6% (9)||50.8% (12)||42.3% (14)||49.8% (11)|
|TO%||15% (1)||23.2% (4)||21.5% (8)||19.3% (9)|
|OR%||33.4% (5)||33.3% (10)||32.7% (6)||34.3% (12)|
|FTR||43.1 (3)||50.2 (14)||33.1 (10)||31.2 (6)|
The Rebels head to Columbia, SC, for yet another road game that they should win. After a sluggish 3 weeks or so, there were signs of life in the Georgia game. Some of the swagger seemed to reappear in Marshall Henderson as did the late game magic that led to so many come-from-behind wins earlier in the season. Certainly not all was rosy – evidenced by being dominated on the glass 45-30 by an undersized Georgia team – but they dug themselves out of a hole they had no business digging, which is certainly better than rolling over.
The good news is that the Gamecocks are even more undersized than Georgia and don’t do a whole lot well. New coach Frank Martin is a former Bob Huggins assistant like Andy Kennedy, but inherited a bleak situation in Columbia. The Gamecocks rank last in the conference in eFG% - which is a given as they rank last in 2P% and 3P% - as well as Defensive FTR. Their one strength is that they force turnovers on nearly ¼ of opponents’ possessions, but the Rebels lead the conference and rank 5th in the country in Offensive TO%.
No doubt that the offense will start from the inside out tonight. Both Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner should wind up with double-doubles in this one as well as 10+ FT attempts. In conference play, the Gamecocks are giving 1 FTA for every FGA. Their 50.2 Defensive FTR is a full 7 points worse than Arkansas’ 43.2 which ranks 13th in conference. For the season, they rank 324th in the country. That plays into the strength of the Rebels who have been very good at getting to the FT line this season.
This is also a game to start rectifying the paltry defensive effort we’ve had over the last few weeks. After excelling on that end of the court in the non-conference and early conference season, it’s been a struggle stopping anyone lately. The Rebels haven’t given up fewer than 1.0 points/possession since The Tennessee game in Oxford on January 20. Meanwhile, USC hasn’t scored 1.0 points/possession since a home win over Arkansas on January 26. During conference play, 1/8 of their possessions have ended in a steal and 1/8 of their 2P FGA attempts have blocked, both of which rank 12th in the conference. They struggle to score and we need to make sure that continues tonight. They haven't eclipsed 61 points in their current 6-game losing streak
I want to see us come out and take control of this one early and maintain a comfortable lead for the majority of the game. There’s nothing in the last few weeks that makes me think that’s what will happen, but if this team wants to get its groove back and build momentum heading to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, a 20-point road win tonight would be a damn fine place to start.
(Sure to be terribly, terribly wrong) Predictions:
Ole Miss 74 South Carolina 56
Rebels attempt 26 FTs
Anthony Perez has his best game as a Rebel (ß If I keep saying this, it eventually has to be true, right? RIGHT?)
Marshall Henderson is efficient from the floor, goes 5/8 from 3
(As always, the conference rankings pulled from kenpom.com, quite possibly the coolest site on the whole wide intertubes... Red Cup Rebellion excluded of course)