“I apologize to the fan base...Tenn beat us every way possible. It’s on me. It’s recruiting. We have to continue to develop players.”
Kermit Davis had a few choice words in his post game press conference following his teams’ 73-48 loss Tuesday night in Knoxville. The Rebels, now 0-5 in SEC play, trailed 42-23 at the half and never challenged the Volunteers who moved to 12-6 and 4-2 in conference.
The 0-5 start is the Rebels worst since beginning the 1999-2000 SEC slate. It’s also their first five-game losing streak in the SEC since Rod Barnes’ team did it twice(!) in 2006. A loss at Georgia on Saturday would match the 1990-91 team at 0-6. And if you’re worried about records, you have to go all the way back to Lee Hunt’s 1983-84 team that started 0-9.
I’m sure I speak for all Ole Miss fans when I say a win Saturday would go a long way to calming some fears. A visit from Auburn is looming and a trip to Baton Rouge will follow. Things could go downhill fast(er). Kermit Davis seems at a loss for words. He’s apologized to the fans after four separate games now, and the frustration is evident. Davis hasn’t had a losing conference record since 2007, and in that span he’s made four NCAA tournaments and been his conference’s champion on another two occasions.
He’s not accustomed to losing, and he’s certainly not used to pressing buttons and having his players not respond. Perhaps last year was the perfect mix of old and new. Kermit brought in some talented freshmen (KJ Buffen and Blake Hinson) and paired them with two extremely talented upperclassmen at guard (Terence Davis and Breein Tyree). That mix of talent added with the new energy in the program helped everyone buy-in to the greater goal.
This year’s team lacks that secondary scorer that can attract attention away from Tyree. Like most, Davis expected someone to step up to the plate and carry that load. Hinson nearly quit the game due to an illness in the off-season and Devontae Shuler went through the loss of his father, understandably affecting his game tremendously.
That they’ve struggled this season wasn’t expected, but it can be reasoned away a little. Buffen? He completely transformed his body from freshman to sophomore season. But his regression has to keep Kermit up at night. It’s not fun to say before the calendar even turns to February, but it’s hard not to look to next season to see who can help out because it doesn’t seem to be happening this season.
Just from this team, Ole Miss will add redshirt freshman Shon Robinson and former Oxford High star and transfer Jarkel Joiner. But, they’ll also lose their best player in Breein Tyree so those two along with incoming freshman four-star Matthew Murrell will have to do a lot and then some. Tyree scored 18 points in the loss to Tennessee on Tuesday, struggling to generate much of anything due to the Vols not being intimidated or even remotely concerned with anyone else hurting them with making buckets.
Shuler added 11 but no other Rebel added more than five. Besides the Florida game, which Tyree missed, no player besides Tyree has scored more than 13 points in a game since Tennessee Tech before the New Year. Until that happens—until someone other than Tyree can give the Rebels a consistent secondary scorer, look for the losses to keep piling up.