Whether Andy Kennedy and company read this sports blog or not, the Rebs heard the cry for better shooting percentage and all-around execution, and so downed Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night, 82-74. First-half troubles gave way to second-half sniping from Stefan Moody and Snoop White, who combined for 44 points on 12-of-20 field-goals on the night. Not bad, boys, not bad at all.
That first half, though. The Tide opened the game on an 8-0 run before Moody commenced Rebel scoring with a trey that banged off every possible surface of the hoop. Ole Miss didn't pull to within a score until three minutes remained in the first half, at which point Jarvis Summers tweaked his left ankle and hobbled off to the locker room. He struggled from the field after returning in the second half (1-of-8 on the night) but managed to chip in a respectable seven points, seven assists, and two steals.
The Rebels didn't grab their first lead until early in the second period, thanks to a beautiful Moody threefer on the wing that put them up, 34-32. The Rebs strummed well from outside throughout the second half -- Snoop drained four parabolas himself -- for a 41-percent shooting performance from downtown.
In addition to Summers nicking his ankle just before halftime, Snoop collided with Aaron Jones -- yes, you read that right, Aaron Geriatric Jones -- mid-way through the second half and had his hip looked at for a minute before thankfully returning. Dudes are tough, tough, tough.
1. The Rebs reaffirmed the depth of their bench.
As our trusty Editor-In-Chief points out to me, the Rebel roundballers are now 12-3 this season when Snoop scores in double digits; especial thanks, then, for those 19, Snoop. Following White's nine first-half points, Ole Miss' reserves scored 17 points in the opening scrum. Somewhat by necessity, Aaron Jones -- who, mind you, served in the Korean War -- received considerable minutes with Snoop and Jarvis licking their wounds. Gramps went for 10 points, five boards, two steals and, sure why not, a block. Trust me, it was much funnier in real time.
All told, the Rebels' bench out-scored Bama's, 36-5, on Tuesday, and it's becoming more and more difficult to refer to Snoop's big-time contributions as "sixth man" stats. He just feels like one of the starting bunch.
2. The defense looked pretty good.
When Anthony Perez is on the floor, it's become an AK article of faith he'll will line up at the top of the 1-3-1 trap. This is a productive look to offer opponents' offenses because Perez is long and tall, so passing around or over him on the open floor becomes rather cumbersome. Which is to say, the Rebs doubled up on Bama in the steals column, 10-5, and they disrupted things often enough for 13 Tide turnovers to the Rebels' seven.
Had Alabama's shooters not gone frigid in the second half, it's hard to say whether Ole Miss pulls this one out. A Rebel 12-0 run late-ish in the second half is misleading because the Tuscaloosa men went scoreless for five minutes. Not that the Rebs should complain, but some of those open Tide looks should've been not so open, feel me?
3. Now comes the final exam.
Though the Rebs didn't play a perfect game, they showed flashes of dominance, especially in the second half. Moving forward, a win in hostile Crimson-Tide-land helps re-orient a team that's played fledgling basketball the last seven days. AK looked exasperated throughout the night, despite the Rebs' solid performance, which should be expected from a coach who wants to take his team dancing in two weeks' time. PROCESS, gentlemen, process.
As we said on Tuesday, Saturday's Vandy matchup will be -- for all intents and purposes -- a make-or-break affair. Should the Rebels lose, Selection Sunday becomes a goat-sacrifice to the almighty Bracketology Gods; should they win, well, let's boogie on down with whoever that blind date happens to be.