After a first half by both teams that was worthy of a standard definition Jefferson Pilot broadcast, Ole Miss woke up from a shooting coma and spent most of the second half saving Bruce Pearl a lot of hollering by cruising past Auburn, 80-63.
The Rebels' offense was ignited by some guy named Stefan Moody, who, despite a hamstring that held him back from terrorizing Auburn's defense more fully, hit five second-half threes on his way to 24 points. He was joined in the festivities by Marcanvis Hymon, who added 19 points, 10 rebounds, and activity around the basket that gets Ole Miss fans excited about his potential.
Following yet another win over Auburn in yet another sport, Ole Miss improves to 13-7 (3-5 SEC), but more importantly, snaps a four-game losing streak, which will hopefully generate some momentum for a streak that heads in the other direction. This team is still a long shot's long shot for getting into the NCAA Tournament, but it's a team that's getting better and is quite enjoyable to watch (#blessed).
As for what is now Moody's normal routine, it was his 14th straight game with at least 20 points, which ties him with Gerald Glass, emperor of the Tad Pad and a MODERATELY successful Ole Miss basketball player. So each time you watch Moody play, you are watching one of two people to attend Ole Miss who have accomplished such an offensive feat (#doubleblessed).
While it's fun to rattle on and on about points, let's not ignore Ole Miss' defensive effort. Auburn shot 37 percent from the floor and saw its leading scorer, Kareem Canty, stagger out of the Pavilion with a 3-of-14 shooting performance for just 8 points (he averaged 18.9 coming into tonight's game). That kind of defense will be most beneficial when one's offense is wandering in the wilderness of poor shooting.
Even though Auburn is not the most brutal of challengers, Ole Miss blew them out at home, which is what should be done to weaker foes. So let's take a quick look at what stood out in the W.
1. Stefan Moody only needs 1.25 hamstrings
Sure, it would've been nice if he had both fully functional tonight, but since he couldn't give Auburn the maximum Moody treatment, Ole Miss will be able to write off that point difference for tax purposes. Savings and a win!
On a serious note, it would be VERY MUCH AWESOME if that injured hamstring would get back to full strength. A healthy hamstring joined by non-eye patched Sebastian Saiz would go a long way towards Ole Miss having a great second half of SEC play.
2. Yes, Saiz was wearing an eye patch.
Someone said he looks like a Bond villain.. here ya go. Sebas! pic.twitter.com/49v9MYK6f5— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) January 28, 2016
Now that the game's over, Sebastian Saiz can return to his villainous plotting pic.twitter.com/HQOQY0Y9K3— Jeff Gray (@Jeff_GraySBN) January 28, 2016
3. Martavious Newby returned with the perfect Martavious Newby game
Ole Miss doesn't need Newby to be a second, third, or even fourth scorer. We need him to play great defense, rebound, and score on his scattered opportunities.
Tonight, in his first game back since his eye injury, he scored 7 points on 3 shots and grabbed 9 rebounds, 6 of which were defensive boards. If he can do something close to that every game, he is excelling in his role.
4. Should we keep poppin' that jersey?
I BELIEVE WE SHOULD.