Ole Miss will Go West, young man, for a big matchup against Utah on Monday in Las Vegas. Before they do that, they will face Ron Hunter and the Georgia State Panthers. Andy Kennedy’s focus will be keeping Hunter in his chair on the sideline. If you don’t remember, he got loose after the Panthers’ first-round upset of Baylor in the 2015 NCAA tournament.
If you were under a rock in 2015 and did not see it happen in real life, here is a reminder:
Georgia State is 2-0 on the young season, with victories over Carver Bible College and Rice, two historic basketball programs in their own right ... well, they most definitely have basketball programs. How did Georgia State get here, though? The Panthers lead the country in turnover rate at 32.4 percent (!!) of all opponents’ possessions ending in a turnover.
On the contrary, the Basketsharks are in the top 50 in holding onto the ball on the offensive end, but alas they’ll need to be efficient on the offensive side against the Panthers and not let them affect the Rebs’ guard-oriented, up-tempo offense.
Another key for Ole Miss will be stopping the mid-range jumper for Georgia State. For a team that doesn’t rebound particularly well on the offensive end, the Panthers are top 30 in two-point shooting rate at over 62 percent. As odd as this seems, it’s true. I even double checked the numbers, and though it would seem like Carver may have skewed these numbers, it was the Rice Owls who gave up 18-of-29 shooting from inside the arc on Tuesday.
Ole Miss should also be able to capitalize on Georgia State’s terrible free throws for and against rate. The Panthers just cannot seem to stop fouling teams as they rank in the bottom 10 in free throws allowed compared to field goal attempts. Not to be outdone on the other side, they can’t find the charity stripe on the offensive end either, ranking again in the bottom 10 in free throws attempted rate.
Terence Davis, Markel Crawford, and Deandre Burnett will be the key on Friday for the Rebels. If these three can hang on to the ball long enough to drive, they will likely find themselves at the line or in a layup line.