Here's how the Rebels (17-4, 6-2) match up with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-13, 2-6) using the Four Factors. (Conference Rank in Parentheses)
|Ole Miss O||msu D||msu O||Ole Miss D|
|eFG%||45.6% (11)||51.5% (13)||44.8% (12)||48.6% (7)|
|TO%||15.7% (1)||23.4% (4)||26.6% (14)||19% (10)|
|OR%||34.7% (3)||39.1% (14)||27.1% (13)||29.5% (5)|
|FTR||41.8 (3)||25.8 (2)||36.9 (8)||33.0 (6)|
After a rough week last week, the Rebels get what basically amounts to a scrimmage against a wretched State team. Just glancing at the chart above, it’s hard to imagine how they won a single conference game, let alone their first two. In a 14-team league, the Bulldogs rank in the bottom 3 of 5 of the 8 Factors listed above. Their Defensive FTR rank is inflated by the fact that they play such bad defense, teams don’t need to go to the line to score. Opponents are shooting 52.5% on 2P FGAs against them in conference.
This is a chance to fix what has been ailing the Rebs the last few games. The BOHaD offense we all feared would rear its ugly head has. The Rebels have fallen to last in conference play in 2p FG% at just 43.0%. A good portion of that is Murphy Holloway’s uncanny ability to NOT finish at the rim lately. He must’ve missed 8 easy ones the last 2 games. Conversely, the Rebs have fallen to 11th in conference in 2p FG% defense after blistering shooting nights from UK and UF.
Tomorrow night is a night to fix all that. There is little the Bulldogs do well. They just choked away a double-digit lead at home to LSU and are riding a 6-game losing streak heading into tomorrow night. There’s little to analyze, nothing to breakdown. This one shouldn’t be close. The Bulldogs have no depth, no experience, the least efficient offense in conference and the 2nd least efficient defense. The Rebels have to get back to playing like they did early on in conference season. They’ve got a one game reprieve against what amounts to a practice squad before heading to Columbia for a rematch with Mizzou. Nick Williams has been cleared to play, but I doubt he gets extended - if any - action tomorrow night. This is another opportunity to try and get Martavious Newby and Anthony Perez some more quality minutes.
As an aside, regarding the opponent tomorrow night, this is a school that built a marketing campaign around propaganda and its own little brother complex. I’ll give them credit for striking while the iron was hot (See: Nutt, Houston) but that method wasn’t sustainable, clearly. Death threats to high school students, assistant football coaches spreading lies about the Ole Miss coaching staff, former players throwing around veiled accusations of paying recruits… this is a fanbase in desperation. They’ve drunk the kool-aid for so long now that, as the supply runs out and reality sets in, it’s going to be an ugly transition back to reality. As the wool is pulled away from their eyes, that God-forsaken town that fun forgot may very collapse in on itself about the time Henderson buries his 6th 3-pointer tomorrow night. Part of me almost wants to feel bad for them, but that part of me is an idiot.
Tomorrow morning should be the start of a very good day for Rebel fans. There is so much positive momentum with Ole Miss athletics right now, that it’s hard to believe where we were 18 months ago with no talent hacks like Houston Nutt and Pete Boone sucking the life out of the athletic program. Starting at 6:30AM, it will be a day full of reminders that it’s great to be an Ole Miss Rebel. Like Freeze pointed out before the Egg Bowl, the recent turnaround of Ole Miss athletics is based on love for each other and love for the school, not propaganda and the insatiable need to compare ourselves to others. That is the way to build sustainable success, not childish insults and lies.
(Sure to be terribly, terribly wrong) Predictions:
Ole Miss 84 State 47
Buck and Murph own the first half before Henderson catches fire in the 2nd half
Jarvis Summers snaps out of his recent funk and the Rebels execute well on offense, with an eFG% of 50.0%+ and an FTR of 40.0+
At least 5 camo jacket-wearing State fans make an appearance and offer witty insight about TSUN fans not knowing how to get to Atlanta or the Final Four, then leaving at the under 12:00 media time out in the second half
(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)