|OM O||UT D||UT O||OM D|
|eFG%||47.4% (8)||47.5% (9)||45.1% (12)||43.6% (3)|
|TO%||18.0% (8)||14.3% (14)||22.6% (12)||21.3% (3)|
|OR%||36.5% (5)||25.8% (1)||40.2% (3)||34.4% (11)|
|FTR||35.1 (14)||27.4 ( 1)||44.8 (7)||43.9 (8)|
(FYI... From here on out, I'm only going to use conference numbers for these. How we rebounded against MVSU or shot the ball against North Carolina A&T is hardly relevant anymore now that we're into conference play.)
The Rebels head to Knoxville tomorrow night to take on a talented, but up-and-down Volunteer team in an important RPI game for both teams. The Vols have alternated wins and losses so far in 2014 and are coming off a humbling 67-41 loss in Gainesville on Saturday. The Rebels dominated the Vols in Knoxville last season with a 92-74 win. The game is likely to be better remembered as Marshall Henderson's coming out party as he dropped 32 points and showed out to the point that it sent Wes Rucker into uncharted butthurt territory. He's still talking about it.
When Ole Miss has the ball:
Tennessee has done a better job than anyone in conference at both rebounding the ball defensively and keeping opponents off the FT line. The Rebels shot 44 FTs (not a typo) in Knoxville last season and 33 more in Oxford. It wasn't just the big guys either. Henderson shot 22 FTs and Jarvis Summers shot 17 over the course of the two games. The Rebels have struggled to get to the line in conference play, but will likely look to attack the Vols similar to last season. UT head coach Cuonzo Martin had this to say about guarding Henderson earlier this week. Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz will need to continue to crash the glass to steal some possessions away from the Vols.
When Tennessee has the ball:
Despite some outstanding individual talent and a dominant frontcourt, the Vols don't score the ball easily. Their one strength on offense is offensive rebounding, which is the Rebels' glaring weakness. The Rebels are amongst the best in conference at forcing bad shots and turning opponents over, while UT has struggled to hang on to the ball and scoring efficiently when they do. Jordan McRae averages 18+ ppg (49.6% eFG%) and takes more than 30% of UT's shots when he's on the floor. Jarnell Stokes (13.6 ppg) and Jeronne Maymon (11.1 ppg) anchor the post for the Vols, but neither shoots above 50% from the floor - 48.6% and 49.2% eFG% respectively.
This is a definite contrast in styles. The Rebels are averaging 5.5 more possessions (69.7-64.2) in conference play and are able to score the ball much easier than the Vols. UT wants to slow it down and just get a shot up on the rim and go get it. I think that sort of style plays into the Rebels hands, despite the inevitable rebounding woes. I expect that we ratchet up the ball pressure and make it very difficult for the Vols to get into any sort of rhythm offensively. The Rebs really seem to be clicking right now and I expect they'll leave Knoxville with a much needed win.
(Sure to be terribly, terribly wrong) Predictions:
Ole Miss 68, Tennessee 59
UT has a TO% of 24%, eFG% of 42%
Jarvis Summers leads the Rebs in scoring with 15
Aaron Jones has 6 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocks
(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)