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Ole Miss basketball’s Khadim Sy has stepped up his game just in time for SEC play

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The Virginia Tech transfer is coming around when the stakes are higher than ever this season.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

Through the first four games of the year against low level competition, Khadim Sy didn’t do much to give Ole Miss fans a lot of hope for his year.

The touted transfer didn’t come in and immediately dominate, no rim-rattling dunks or special highlights to point to against also-ran teams.

He was averaging roughly six points and four rebounds per game against the likes of Arkansas State, Norfolk State, Western Michigan, and Seattle. Obviously four games isn’t enough to judge a new player by, but it was certainly surprising not to see him play a more dominant role against those four teams.

Against Memphis, things started to pick up for Sy. He had nine points and six rebounds against the Tigers in just 19 minutes. Sy didn’t play enough because he fouled out, but there were some flashes in that game, including two blocks. In the win against Penn State, Sy registered eight points and eight rebounds. He did basically nothing against Oklahoma State (along with the rest of the team) but rebounded with a 12-point, four rebound game against Butler.

The last four games of the non-conference have been very different than the first four.

The Rebels have faced Cal-State Bakersfield, Middle Tennessee State, Southeastern Louisiana, and Tennessee Tech since that loss to Butler, and Sy has been a major reason close games against those teams all turned into wins. Through those four games, Sy is averaging nearly 13 points and six rebounds per game on 59% shooting.

Offensively, the ball is running through him a lot more, as Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler appear to have gained a lot of respect for his game. They’re giving him the ball in the low post, and he’s getting buckets.

Defensively, he’s still not the imposing presence he’s likely capable of being, but he’s not quite as timid and is making hard physical plays occasionally down low.

His game still has flaws.

Sy’s biggest issue is simply he fouls too much. Even against the group of lower level teams, he averaged over three fouls per game, fouling out once in just 17 minutes. For a team so desperately in need of good center play from its starter, Sy’s fouls are really problematic. They’re mostly a result of being caught out of position defensively, which mostly comes back to good help-side defense along with guards not letting ball-handlers into the lane as often as they do.

Beyond that, he’s not very physical on the glass. As I mentioned, he has picked that up a bit recently, but he’s not a player who goes up strong for the ball, and he struggles to box out.

While he’s a junior, he’s still learning.

Sy only got to campus in May, having spent last year in junior college after a year as the “starter” at Virginia Tech. He hasn’t had long to gel with this team, and he hasn’t been coached by Kermit Davis before.

I anticipate he’ll continue improving in the discipline-based areas, but for Sy to truly take the next step, he’ll need to find a mean streak.