If you’re looking to pull off a road upset in conference play, the basketball wizards would advise you to not spend the first half of the game turning the ball over, getting dominated on the boards, and giving up a quarter of a million points in the paint. Ole Miss, perhaps testing the science behind those principles, tried the opposite of that in the first 20 minutes on its way to a 74-53 loss. Ugly stuff.
As you might expect, committing nine turnovers, losing the rebound battle 20-13, and allowing 22 points near the basket in a half may buck conventional tactics, but it is a great way to be down 16 points. The Rebels never recovered from a first half in which they were dominated, never matching Alabama’s intensity and aggression for even a minute.
Amazingly, the second half was worse, as Alabama continuing dunking on Ole Miss, both figuratively and literally, holding Ole Miss to 35.7 percent shooting and running up their rebound advantage to 44-32. And in his quest to put a check in every ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED box in his college career, Terence Davis found a way to foul out with 16:04 to play.
The 21-point loss marks the worst of Kermit Davis’ brief tenure in Oxford, as he joins a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long list of Ole Miss coaches in all sports who have had their teams destroyed in Tuscaloosa. That Ole Miss lost is not a surprise, but the manner in which they did, considering how well they’ve played recently, very much is.
The question now is was this just a road game hiccup or a sign of things to come. Devontae Shuler’s foot injury has taken his powers and given former walk-on D.C. Davis some of Shuler’s minutes. Davis, who has shown he can contribute at times, gives the effort a team needs, but if he’s one of your primary guards you have to rely on every game, that’s a big problem.
Shuler’s absence or reduced abilities may be the thing that derails any shot* this team has at the NCAA Tournament. This may come as a shock, but depth and Ole Miss basketball don’t belong in the same sentence.
*Well, there’s also the possibility NCAA investigators suspend everyone because their brother or sister drives a nice car.
Ole Miss will likely stagger through the remaining 12 SEC games unless they can find a way to replace Shuler’s production, or overcome it by being better in other areas like COUGH COUGH OLE MISS FRONT COURT. If Shuler is limited or can’t go, Bruce Stevens, Dominik Olejniczak, and KJ Buffen can’t have no-show games like tonight (two points, two rebound combined in the first half).
Mark me down as a concerned citizen, friends. I’m not expecting a favorable result on Saturday against Iowa State because they are #good, and this feels very much like a situation Kermit Davis is going to have to solve on the fly, which, according to the driver’s manual, is not ideal.