Ole Miss went on the road to face a better team and came away empty-handed. The worst offensive team in the Big 12 dropped 45 on Ole Miss in the first half and 85 for the game. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Saturday was a free shot. A road non-conference game against a likely tournament team. It won't hurt Ole Miss in the standings but it sure won’t help Andy Kennedy at the end of the year when the Rebels are looking at what could have been.
Winning on the road is hard. Unfortunately for Ole Miss they’re going to have to do it eventually or they’ll be traveling for a first round NIT game for the second year in a row.
Here’s what we learned:
It’s about Dom time.
Dominik Olejniczak has encountered his fair share of struggles during his first season on the floor for the Rebs. He’s scored in double figures just twice entering Saturday, but been held to two points or less in 12 of the Rebels 21 games. With an NBA lottery pick on the opposing team in the figure of Mo Bamba, Dom brought it, scoring 17 points, grabbing six boards, and dishing two assists. Bruce Stevens was quieter but still added six points on 2-of-4 shooting. If these two can ever get it going in the same game, few teams in the SEC could match up.
Mo Bamba is a first round draft pick. Almost surely a lottery pick, and most likely a top five pick in the 2018 NBA draft. It was only fitting he would have his best offensive performance when the Rebels came into town. Bamba finished with a season-high 25 points and 15 rebounds on the day.
He did everything for the Longhorns, and while he finished with just four blocks, it seemed like every time the ball entered the post for the Rebels his presence bothered play. Not to be outdone, fellow Horn Dylan Osetkowski poured in 13 points and seven rebounds. Ole Miss can take solace in the fact they won’t face anyone like Bamba defensively again.
Every game matters now.
Ole Miss faces potentially the toughest week on the season, with Auburn visiting Tuesday before heading to face Tennessee on Saturday. The Rebs have to split these two games, since they’re both against tier one opponents. Winning either game would help boost a low RPI into the respectable range. Winning both would put the Rebels squarely on the bubble.
Afterwards, they’ll face Mizzou and travel to LSU. A home game against a bubble team and a road game against one of the weaker teams in the conference means a 2-0 week is within reach. Win three of the next four and things get interesting. Not sure if I would count on it, though.