Three days after downing Clanga in Oxford, the Rebel hoopsters went to Columbia and gave Mizzou the business with a convincing 67-47 win. That Ole Miss plays well on the road has become something of a guiding principle this season and Saturday’s dagger marks the Rebels’ first ever roundball win in Columbia.
As if on cue, Ole Miss sprang to life in the first half after seven minutes of relatively listless basketball. From there, nine different Rebels contributed to the team total, and – barring a short rejoinder run early in the second half – a Missouri squad laden with freshmen and sophomores buckled under the Rebel pressure. Andy Kennedy was the most animated he’s been this season, going so far as to chest-bump Martavious Newby during a late timeout. Get turnt, Coach.
Also, Stefan Moody is an extraterrestrial being, sent to Earth for the sole purpose of giving this slam to mankind:
With three straight wins in their pocket, the Rebels’ NCAA Tournament prospects are gradually coming into focus and Saturday’s rumble adds a needed line to their at-large-bid résumé.
Here are three lessons learned from the trip to Mizzou:
1. Let's not get carried away, the Tigers aren't good this season.
Look, I don’t enjoy being a buzz-kill, but let’s be real: this Missouri squad is not the Tigers of 2013 or 2014 that traipsed through the regular season only to bust literally everyone’s brackets in March. This season’s Tigers are young (eight rostered guys are true frosh or soph) and Kim Anderson is still picking up the pieces after Frank Haith’s overboard jump.
That said, Saturday saw the Rebels execute splendid basketball against a program that prides itself on consistently delivering splendid basketball. Ole Miss has now downed Florida and Mizzou and taken Kentucky to overtime, so at least in terms of name recognition, the Ken Pomeroys of the world should keep an eye on these punchy Rebels.
2. There’s no such thing as too many cooks.
This is now a common refrain, but Ole Miss succeeds when they share duties and open up the bench (Ole Miss’ bench outscored Missouri’s 19-11). Anthony Perez has come on in the last two games to inject pure, uncut energy into this team and, in 18 minutes of participation, his eight points on three boards reaffirmed AK’s newfound faith in the man. As a side note, he loves shooting the three from the middle third of the arc and given more freedom to do so, look forward to some handsome swishes down the stretch. Moody – who nailed all 10 of his free throws – led all Rebel scorers with 23 flashy points on five rebounds, while M.J. Rhett turned in eight points and Snoop White quietly offered seven of his own. Sebastian Saiz got his nose dirty with six points and five boards, but let’s award Newby the game’s Unsung Hero Certificate: my guy scored six points and hauled in nine defensive rebounds. Ole Miss in fact out-rebounded the Tigers, 43-37.
The Rebels also posted a better assists night, out-dishing Mizzou 12-9. Jarvis Summers dropped seven dimes himself and the Rebels outside-inside passing earned them 26 points in the paint to the Tigers’ 18. Granted Mizzou’s inexperience, it was refreshing to see Saiz and Rhett do some moshing down low.
3. The Rebels love the midcourt.
Andy Kennedy’s men are, in turns, concretizing their game between the arcs. Things were spotty for a bit, sure, but Saturday’s dominance galvanized the Rebels’ aggression on the open floor. Though Ole Miss failed in the turnover column – nine to Mizzou’s eight – they more than made up for it by outscoring the Tigers 17-6 off turnovers. Missouri got a little wild in their passing game and Rebels capitalized on those mistakes, as they should.
Ole Miss continued their love of three-point shooting with 18 attempts and six treys. Not bad at all, boys.
The Rebel roundballers are now 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the SEC. Jarvis Summers is the league’s active scoring leader with 1,515 career points and his burly facial hair has caused a shortage of beard trimmers in the tri-state area.
Ole Miss hosts Texas A&M this Wednesday before a weekend road-trip to Auburn. Both games register high on the winnability scale.