Things weren’t looking great for Ole Miss heading into tonight’s game with Florida.
And now the team will be without starting big Khadim Sy, according to multiple reports, citing a coach’s decision for him not to travel with the team.
Sy has averaged nearly nine points and five rebounds so far this season after transferring in from Daytona State. The news comes at an inopportune time for a program desperately needing a win in Southeastern Conference play.
Ole Miss had battled back in its second conference game against Arkansas after starting off with a massive stinker in College Station. The Rebels lost by 10 to the worst offensive team in the SEC, Texas A&M, and looked lifeless with exception of Breein Tyree.
The Rebs led by double digits on Saturday over the Hogs with under five minutes to play before allowing future first-rounder Isaiah Joe to hit back to back three-pointers to close the gap in under a minute. Ole Miss couldn’t get any momentum back in the game and eventually lost, 76-72.
That loss on its face wasn’t a killer—Arkansas is a much improved team led by a impactful first year coach—but an 0-2 start in conference play before heading to Gainesville is a tough task. With a home and home against LSU, trips to Knoxville and Athens, and a visit from Auburn ahead, things could get much worse before they get better.
Florida is undoubtedly one of the most talented teams in the SEC, but the Gators have struggled with consistency. UF dropped games against UConn and Utah State, but beat Miami and Xavier in back-to-back days. The Gators started 2-0 in conference but ran into a buzz saw in Columbia, Mo. last Saturday.
The Gators are led by their offense which ranks 31st according to KenPom (Ole Miss is 119th defensively). Kerry Blackshear is a 6’10 transfer at forward from Virginia Tech and he’s shown why he was the most sought after grad transfer in years. Through 15 games, he’s averaging 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. He’s also 6th nationally in getting to the free throw line and he’s shooting 50-of-56 from the charity stripe over his last five games.
This game will also feature the top two teams in conference play for stopping offensive boards, and if the Rebels are to pull off the upset, it will have to keep Blackshear and company from attacking the glass and getting easy second chance points
Ole Miss may not be the team to take advantage from behind the arc, but the Gators are last in the SEC in three-point percentage allowed at over 43 percent during conference play. They’ll need Blake Hinson and Tyree to be on from three to stay in the game.
Both teams like to slow things down, Kermit knows he doesn’t have his best offensive team and will attempt to give the Gators as few possessions as possible, and through 15 games it appears as though Mike White is alright with that. Florida is 278th nationally in tempo (out of 353) and 290th in defensive possession length meaning the Gators like to force teams to pass the ball around a bit before looking to shoot.
For Ole Miss to have much of a chance, they’ll need this game to be played in the low 60s. Fewer possessions means fewer opportunities for the home team to score. That’s how you get results like the Gators 65-62 loss to Utah State.
Either way, we will be with you all night and all season long as Kermit and the boys try to get this train back on track.
Line: Florida -11
How to watch
Where: Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.
When: 6:00pm CST
Online streaming: WatchESPN