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Ole Miss Rebels: 83 - Texas State, I dunno, Bobcats or Something: 72

It's nice of you to be a scoring threat, Trevor.
It's nice of you to be a scoring threat, Trevor.

An eleven-point win in a ho-hum tournament over a very, very bad basketball team might not seem like much of anything to get excited about - heck, it might even cause some folks to worry - but head coach Andy Kennedy himself said that his team "got up [early] and put it in cruise control." The Rebels knew exactly what it would take to win and knew that flash and pazazz means little at this juncture, so they just made the shots they needed and balled around for 40 minutes until the buzzer sounded on the 83-72 victory in the opening round of the Cancun Governor's Cup.

I'm fine with that. After all of the travel issues the team has had to deal with just to even get to Mexico, the thoughts of the holidays heavy on their minds, and the low-key nature of this tournament as compared to the Puerto Rico tipoff of yesteryear, I'll gladly take an 11-point, relatively effortless victory, especially when considering the following:

  • Chris Warren was 3-for-13 from the field and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. He was fouled six times and did nail all 12 of his free throws, but the All-SEC guard had a poor night by his standards.
  • Reginald Buckner only scored eight points and blocked one shot in 25 minutes of play before being fouled out early in the second half. He did, though, haul in an impressive 13 rebounds.
  • Nick Williams' semi-slump continued last night, with the wingman only scoring five points in 25 minutes of play

So this team's star-power didn't perform well, generally speaking, and left us with much to be desired for the next few games. But that didn't matter when you consider the performances of their counterparts. Check it:

  • Trevor. Freakin'. Gaskins. Man, has this guy showed up and played some ball as of late. Last night he put up numbers all over the damned box score. He had three steals, a block, four assists, three rebounds, and 21 points as he was 7-for-12 from the field and 4-5 from the stripe. I don't know how many of us would ever guess that a lot of our team's success would hinge on Trevor Gaskins, but it does. He and Chris Warren can, if things go as well as they should, become a really impressive duo in the backcourt with a maturing Dundrecous Nelson taking the spell on occasion.
  • Terrence Henry didn't foul out! And he got 13 points and six rebounds! I'm fine with either he or Buckner fouling out in a game so long as the other doesn't while putting up double digits. (That's really been the problem, as I see it; one of our bigs fouls out while the other one plays a crappy game.)
  • Zach "Showcase" Graham only had ten points, three rebounds, a steal and an assist in 26 minutes, but his hustle was on. He just wasn't hitting the shots, going 0-fer from beyond the arc.
  • Demarco Cox had five rebounds and four points in only nine minutes so, yeah, that's neat.

I guess what I'm getting at is that Warren and Buckner were off last night, but, with Gaskins and Henry picking up the slack and logging solid performances, that really didn't matter against an opponent like Texas State. Of course we're not going to win many other games playing like this but, as Andy Kennedy said on the radio after the game, for the first time this season, our players were trying to play like they could do it all alone and weren't dishing the ball around like they should have. The Rebels currently lead the conference in assist to turnover ratio, but still had more turnovers (17) than assists (11) against the Bobcats.

We sucked as a team and, honestly, we didn't even try that hard. As stated above, I imagine the circumstances of the tournament and the related travel hassles had a lot to do with that. Here's to hoping the Roundball Rebs took their asses to bed after the game and slept all of that off.

Next-up is a Colorado State Rams squad which narrowly defeated the Mountaineers of Appalacian State last night in the Cancun tourney. Andy Ogide, a former Rebel, makes up the bulk of the Rams' frontcourt. It's on ESPNU at 8:30PM Central. Don't pretend like you've got something better to watch on Christmas Eve Eve.