Stefan Moody isn't the kind of guy that settles for the minimum. He has the cable package with all the extra movie channels. He has the car with the sunroof. He always adds guacamole. So when he has the choice of either tying a game with a lame ass two or taking a three for the win, you better damn believe he's going for broke. With Ole Miss trailing by two points and time running out against Florida, Moody drilled a trey with two seconds remaining to give the Rebels a thrilling 62-61 win, extending their win streak to six and bolstering their ever-strenghtening tournament resume.
Personal injury lawyer Billy Donovan missed a chance at his 499th career win, and the Gators have dropped both games against Ole Miss this season. The Rebels are now nursing a six-game win streak in SEC play, and Thursday's win in the O'Connell Center billets their first win at the House of Horrors in their last seven trips to Tom Petty's Dreamville.
The Rebels hauled a five-game winning streak into Thursday's matchup, a streak kick-started by a 72-71 win over Florida in Oxford, in which the Gators' Michael Frazier II dumped 27 points on the Rebel roundballers back in January. Despite Frazier sitting Thursday out, Florida's perimeter game hung tough for some smash-mouth basketball at both ends.
Featuring more than 10 lead changes, Thursday's clash found a Rebel squad play at times sluggish and flat-footed basketball, especially on defense. Ole Miss' man press in the first half failed to regularly pick up the Gators' perimeter rotations, while their second half zones got burned on the wings at crucial moments. Truth be told, the Rebels' 2-3 D succeeded much better than the man-on-man, which was fortuitous against a Gator squad that loves to skirt the perimeter passing.
Thursday's match held the punch-for-punch intensity of a SEC or NCAA Tournament bout, and Ole Miss should pay close attention to a Gator squad that drains shots from all over carnation. What shall we say about this nail-biter of a game?
1. The Rebs have some ice-cold nerves.
Hey, remember Jarvis Summers with the brush-your-shoulder-off jumper against Kentucky? Andy Kennedy has implanted a seemingly unassailable gut instinct in his long-range shooters that says, "GO SHOOT AND DRAIN IT NOW." Here's Moody nailing the game winner:
That is the cadence of a man confident in his arsenal. That is the stroke of a man who will undoubtedly be asked to do the same thing in the closing seconds of a mad March matchup. That is Stefan Moody doing what Stefan Moody do.
Moody led the Rebs with 18 points, going 5-of-10 from the field and a sizzling 4-of-7 from deep.
2. Patch up that inside game, boys.
Florida's offensive rebounding could have easily broken this game wide open, and it's nothing short of a miracle that the Gators' 13 boards in Rebel territory didn't translate into 20+ unanswerable points.
Further, judging from the tape, the Rebel defense fell dead asleep at times. Ole Miss' man defense in the first half got hung on high screens, which left Gator shooters open for easy three-point looks; in the second half, the Rebels' zone got mushy down the stretch and in so doing gave up some head-shaking threes. Florida passes well, yeah, but every damn team in March passes well. Just saying.
3. Dwight Coleby is still your dude.
My dude, Dwight. Off the bench, this beast scored 11 points, scraped nine boards, rejected three damn shots, and hell, why not a steal for good measure. When Dwight is fired up, the whole team feels the mojo. Shoot, let my guy take all offensive inbounds passes from now on.
[smashes head through desk]
Entering Thursday's trip to Gainesville, Joe Lunardi had Ole Miss at a solid 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament, playing the despicable West Virginia in the equally despicable Pittsburgh. A win over bracket-perennial Florida doubtless bolsters the Rebels' argument for March Madness inclusion, and indeed it makes a possible 8-seed seem not entirely absurd. The Rebels host Arkansas on Saturday for a rematch of seismic proportions, insofar as the Razorbacks have climbed their way back to no. 24 in the AP poll.