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Ole Miss basketball cruises to 82-69 win over Sam Houston State

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Nice.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

Beating Sam Houston State won’t help Ole Miss play deep into March, but losing wouldn’t either. The good guys jumped out to a 17-point lead early in the first half and though the Bearkats closed it to six at the half, the Rebs jogged to a 82-69 win. This was the first of a five-game homestead, and the Rebels will need to win them all heading into 2018.

Christopher Galbreathe Jr. kept Sam Houston in the game with his 22 points and nine rebounds, but things were never in doubt in the second half. This was a get-well game for Ole Miss after they dropped their last three games. Not even the most optimistic observer could see this for more than a good performance against an inferior team, though.

The Rebels front court was actually a bright spot.

The big men—Dominik Olejniczak, Marcanvis Hymon, Bruce Stevens, and Justas Furmanivicius—combined for 32 points (on 14-18 shooting!) and 23 rebounds. Starting with overtime of the Virginia Tech game and continuing into Middle Tennessee and now Sam Houston, Ole Miss has actually gotten competent play from their quartet of forwards. With the guard play Ole Miss expects to get night in and night out, all they need is serviceable offense and a little effort on the defensive end from this group and things can start to click. Well, they got that last night.

Advanced Stats Box

Terence Davis was quiet, again.

Make no mistake, Davis is still the key to this team. If Davis takes over a game like he showed last year, the Rebels can knock off anyone left on their schedule. That Davis isn’t around right now. He has struggled at times staying on the floor, his aggression on the offensive end is starting to spill over to committing dumb fouls on the defensive end. But, if he tones down that passion on the defensive end, it could potentially hurt his game offensively.

Sometimes a wild horse needs to run free. Kennedy may need to let Davis gallop all over the place for 25 minutes a night, slashing his way to 10 points while picking up three fouls in three minutes every so often. You take the good with the bad.

This home stand is crucial.

There is absolutely no margin for error left for Ole Miss in non-conference play. That means the next three games against Illinois State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and Bradley are must wins. KenPom gives Ole Miss a 75 percent or better chance to win each of these games, so Kennedy can continue tinkering with lineups and looking to see who he can count down low ahead of the SEC opener against South Carolina on New Year’s Eve.