The 2019-2020 season has been a disappointing one for sure. Outside of Breein Tyree running roughshod on the league’s defenses, the Rebels (15-16, 6-12) have really, really struggled to do much of anything consistently. Injuries, new faces, inexperience, and some regression here and there has led to Kermit Davis’ encore to his inaugural season’s joy and excitement to register quite dull on the proverbial Richter scale.
But, all is not lost technically.
The Rebels head to Nashville to play Georgia in the first round on Wednesday and will hopefully embark on a five-day journey to steal an automatic bid to the 2020 NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Can it be done? Sure, crazy shit happens all the damn time. Will it though? Eh, not so sure. And this isn’t just because we’re talking about Ole Miss here. Winning five games in five days with little-to-no margin for error is quite difficult. Especially when you haven’t had a secondary to Tyree’s primary when it comes to scoring the basketball. But, like I said, it can be done.
Here’s what Ole Miss needs to do to shock the world.
Khadim Sy needs to step up.
The Daytona State College transfer by way of Virginia Tech has had an up-and-down season. And frankly, most of you probably expected it. After playing sparingly in Blacksburg, he left for Daytona before signing and playing for Ole Miss this year. It was always going to be touch-and-go with Sy. He has shown flashes of getting up to speed with the pace of play and conditioning, but in my opinion, this was a year away type impact.
But, now is the time for him to step up. The 6’10 center has averaged 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season, but he will really need to be the inside to Tyree’s outside in Nashville if the Rebels have any hope of stealing an automatic bid.
The Senegal native will need to limit fouls, rebound, and give Ole Miss life with his ability to snag second-chance points and 50/50 balls. He, along with KJ Buffen, will have to work hard on the glass securing rebounds in order to either get themselves buckets or to give Breein another crack at climbing up Ole Miss’ all-time scoring list.
Devontae Shuler has to join the party.
The junior from South Carolina has struggled a bit this season. Sure, he’s averaging 11.4 points a game, but he just seems to struggle getting into rhythm on the offensive end. His defense on the other hand never wavers. But, if the Rebs are going to make noise in Music City and get to Sunday, the former Oak Hill Academy star needs to get buckets.
If Shuler is shooting with some confidence from deep, he along with Tyree will be a lot for opposing back courts to handle. Last year, Devontae shot 40 percent from deep and even though this year is still a decent 36 percent clip, he will really need to ramp it up in order for Ole Miss to have a shot at getting into everyone’s bracket.
Breein Tyree has to be Breein Tyree.
The New Jersey guard has carried the Rebels this season. I mean, on his back, no rest, no bathroom breaks, carried this basketball team. The senior is now top five in scoring all-time in the Ole Miss program after a 19-point performance on Wednesday when Tyree pulled the game out of the fire late against Missouri. He is averaging close to 20 points per game despite being the only real viable offensive option for the Rebs and drawing the opponent’s best defender night in and night out.
But still, Ole Miss will have to get more from him this week in order to continue their season. His 37 percent clip from deep will most likely need to turn into a 47 percent clip and he will desperately need to put the ball on the floor, drive to the hoop, and either get to the line like he always does, or dish it off to waiting teammates after he draw one or two defenders.
The guy has been a hero before. Who’s to say he can’t do it again?
He will just need to do it five times in five days is all.
Let it all hang out.
Just go have fun. There’s literally no pressure and the bubble isn’t even a thought right now. Go to Nashville, play loose, play hard, and see what happens.