Ole Miss needed a huge comeback led by Terence Davis, who scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, but they eventually fell in overtime, 99-97, to South Dakota State.
Fresh off a disappointing 1-1 week in Las Vegas, the Basketsharks started 1-15 from three-point range and got themselves into a 20-point halftime deficit. Slow starts are starting to become the norm for Andy Kennedy's team this year, and when the opponent is a preseason favorite to win their league, comebacks are rare.
Here are three quick takeaways from Tuesdays’ fail in Oxford.
Terence Davis is unstoppable, sometimes.
Down 20 at the half, Davis took over. He scored 7 points in 59 seconds and showed off his athleticism with a pair of dunks and two more rebounds off of his own misses. Davis was all over the floor. Then, with 1:18 to go and the Rebels up a point, he fouled out. Overtime was played much like the first half, completely devoid of Terence Davis. If Ole Miss is to correct things ahead of Virginia Tech visiting on Saturday, it will start with keeping Davis on the floor and into the game.
Perimeter defense is a problem.
Three-point defense is mostly a myth. Good shooters don’t shoot with a hand in their face, so if they don’t have an open look from deep, they'll simply pass the ball or dribble in and look for a better shot. This means you can’t actually have a great three point defense, at least not by looking at three-point percentage. However, allowing the Jackrabbits to make 18 of 41 from three-point range, including 6-15 from reigning Summit League player of the year Mike Daum, is hard to argue. SOMEONE GUARD HIM, PLEASE.
Ole Miss now ranks outside of the top 50 percent nationally in three-point field goal percentage against. That will get you killed in the SEC.
Ole Miss must get to the rim.
That’s a novel concept, I know. This team gets lots of layups and dunks. But, really, Ole Miss’ comeback was built on their dominance from close range. Ole Miss shot 64 percent from two-point range, including 7-8 from Devontae Shuler and 8-12 from Davis. The only place Ole Miss didn’t dominate inside the arc was the free throw line — surprisingly enough — shooting just 18-27 from the stripe. You didn’t have to be at the Pavilion on Tuesday to know that one missed free throw could be the difference in winning in regulation or losing in overtime.
Buzz Williams, a fan favorite it seems in Oxford, visits Saturday and Ole Miss will have a lot of growing up to do. The Hokies lead the nation in three-point shooting. That should be fun.