The Rebels faced the SMU Mustangs last night. We previewed it here. If you didn't read the article yesterday, take a minute to look at my final predictions.
I expect a game that is unnerving but ends with a 15 point victory for the Rebs.
Ole Miss 75
1. Steadman Short gets 18 or more minutes of playing time.
2. Buckner registers fewer than three blocks.
3. Chris Warren nails four threes.
Score at the half: Ole Miss 32 - SMU 30; Final Score: Ole Miss 75 - SMU 57
1. Steadman Short played for 21 minutes.
2. Reggie Buckner blocked two shots.
3. Chris Warren was 4-7 from three-point range.
Click the jump for some analysis of the actual game.
The Rebs got 19 points off the bench compared to SMU's five. Our guards outscored them 38 to 21. We would have won the game by a good bit more than we did, had it not been for bigs Papa Dia and Robert Nyakundi. Dia was one rebound short of a double-double with a 14/9 statline. Nyakundi lit it up from three, going 6-11 from beyond the arc with 22 points total. Terrance Henry and Reggie Buckner (in his limited 18 minutes), did a good job of forcing Dia (who averaged three turnovers a game) to turn it over six times.
The Rebels also won the battle on the boards, with 33 to SMU's 21. Terrance Henry and Zach Graham tied for the team lead with eight, but it was a solid team effort across the board with seven Rebels bringing down boards. I would have liked to see Demarco Cox or Dundrecous Nelson playing more in our last non-conference game (each played eight minutes), but I understand that we had to win the game and couldn't run a risk of silly plays from either of them.
Overall, we come out of nonconference play sitting at a reasonable 55 RPI (according to WarrenNolan.com who has already updated this morning) but scuffed up from losses to Dayton (41), Miami (28), and Colorado State (71). None are crushing defeats, but 14-1 would look a lot better than 12-3. Hell, if the SEC West was just decent, an RPI of 55 heading into conference play would be fine. Unfortunately, the West continues to suck. Our only hope from quality wins against the division hinge on Arkansas winning some games in upset fashion before facing us during the first week of February. They have the opportunity with Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt before our game, but it's not likely they'll win more than one of those games.