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Deandre Burnett’s injury is a serious blow to Ole Miss basketball

The SEC’s third-leading scorer suffered a high ankle sprain against Georgia, and there isn’t a viable option to replace him.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Mississippi Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Deandre Burnett, Miami transfer to Ole Miss, the SEC’s third-leading conference scorer at 19 points per game, suffered a high ankle sprain against Georgia on Wednesday night. As is the case with these types of injuries, Burnett’s timetable to return ain’t altogether clear. Hoo boy.

“You know how sprained ankles are,” Andy Kennedy said after the game. “We’ll know a lot more tomorrow and then Friday, how quickly the swelling goes down.”

Other than Burnett and Spanish savior Sebastian Saiz, Ole Miss’ offensive producers have appeared few and far between. Terence Davis is a terror at the rim when he can get there, which isn’t that often. Rasheed Brooks — this year’s supposed breakthrough guy — has been streaky at best; check that, let’s call it underwhelming — shoot better, Brooks.

Burnett is averaging over 19 points per game, good for around a quarter of the Rebs’ total offensive production to date. Before Wednesday night, he’d scored at least 18 points in 11 of Ole Miss’ 15 games, including all three of the Rebels’ SEC tilts. Excise Burnett and what’s left? Well.

Sebas is the guy, but needs help to take the pressure off.

Saiz is experienced and his smooth footwork creates everything down low, both on offense and defense. Before the Georgia game, he was averaging 15.6 points and 12.1 rebounds per outing. But with Burnett out of the picture and no other Rebel offering a consistent scoring threat, the Bulldogs were able to consistently double team Saiz, flattening that season trend to 11 points and THREE rebounds.

“Our other big is supposed to dive and we’re supposed to fill behind him,” AK said when asked about the double teams in the post. “We dove him a couple of times, fumbled the ball, missed layups, were fouled and missed layups. Empty possessions. Why wouldn’t you keep doubling [Saiz]?

“So then Sebas feels like ‘Oh man, I gotta go make a play, I gotta go make a play.’ As a result, he goes 3-for-9.”

Shame that those around the big Spaniard haven’t gelled this early in the season. What’s up with these transfers?

Cullen Neal’s highly inflated 10.9 points per game belie his meh success in non-conference shootouts against UMass, UT-Martin, Murray State and Bradley. He hasn’t shot that well in recent weeks. Nor can this team be carried solely by Davis, whose skill-set needs to destroy everyone at the rim when it physically can, never-mind your Lexington lordships.

So who runs the point?

Coming into the season, Ole Miss thought it had a replacement for the outgoing Stefan Moody in the form of Neal, a transfer from New Mexico. Not only has Neal failed to score consistently, but he’s averaging just one assist and three turnovers through four conference games. Has anyone else here EVER run true point? Should Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey screw it up before the halfcourt? Nah.

Finding a consistent point man has been a season-long struggle for AK, whose team is dead last in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio. He’d recently settled on Burnett, who started as the point guard against Auburn last week.

"We've just committed to moving [Burnett] to the point—for obvious reasons—and then he goes out. We're kind of left to go back to where we were prior to making the change."

How many times can we point out that this basketball team has athletes but is still finding its identity, whatever the shit that may be. Georgia played as the demonstrably better coached team in Oxford on Wednesday, and this Basketbears squad has a lot to answer for heading into friggin’ South Carolina on Saturday.

And without their leading scorer, streaky as he may be, Lord help them.