Faced with an opportunity to notch a quality win for their March Madness resume, the Ole Miss Rebels went ice cold in the second half, dropping a tough one 78-72 to Marquette.
If this was not the epitome of Ole Miss sports wrapped into 40 minutes. The team gives you an immense about of hope, sucks you into believing and they crushes your spirit. Ole Miss jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and immediately had Marquette on the ropes, controlling much of the first half.
The two back breaking moments in the first half came on the expiration of the shot clock as Marquette heaved a shot from the logo at the end of the shot clock and drilled it. Then at the end of the half, on an inbound play, David Joplin drilled another three at the buzzer. Rather than up 11, Rebs were only up 5 headed into the break.
The 1-3-1 report will tell the story of the second half.
1 Player of the Game: Nysier Brooks
Brooks’ impact will not always be reflected by the box score. The main number related to his nightly impact is 7 because that’s how many feet tall he is. He did have 13 points and 7 rebounds on the night, but his greatest contribution was legitimately being tall. I said in the game preview that Marquette struggled to shoot. It was true before last night, but Brooks contributed to a well executed first half game plan.
His size inside discouraged the Golden Eagles from driving and forced them to jack 17 threes, hitting six of them. Marquette was also 10-30 on field goals in the first half. His defensive presence alone had a massive impact and he will continue to be a key cog this season.
3 Key Stats
40 percent - OLE MISS SHOT 40% FROM DOWNTOWN ON 20 ATTEMPTS. Alert the press, this Rebs team can shoot the lights out! Just kidding, the key stat from this game is 40% from the free throw line. I wish I could provide an excuse but there simply isn’t one. The Rebels went 6-15, leaving 9+ points on the board as a few of them were front end of one-and-ones. I have said that 80 is the number for the Rebs to win games, you hit your free throws, you reach 80 and outscore the other team.
9 - A major concern facing a Shaka Smart defense is taking care of the ball. One of the keys to victory was the ability of Joiner, Crowley and Murrell to do just that. Those three combined had just three turnovers and the Rebels as a whole had 9. Despite the loss, this an extremely encouraging sign that without a true point guard, Coach Davis can trust his guards to not turn it over.
40-50-90 - The gold standard for shooting in basketball. 40% from three, 50% from the field and 90% from the line. In the first half, Marquettes line was 35-33-83. Most nights that means the team does not have or the other defense is suffocating and its going to be a long night. However, the Golden Eagles did the thing with a second half line of 47-54-92. The back breaker being the 92% on 13 free throws to the Rebs’ 31% on 13 shots. More on this in the 1 Important Observation.
1 Important Observation
Is it a requirement as a coach at the University of Mississippi to run the 1-3-1 pressure defense that switches to a 2-3 once the ball goes below the free throw line? Are the coaches allowed to switch out of that defense when it is getting shredded. All zones have weak spots, the 1-3-1 is vulnerable in corners and the 2-3 at the free throw line extended. Justin Lewis (yes its me guys) went 5-8 from deep, destroying our zone from those spots. I understand that pressure and turnovers that defense can create, but when something actually is broke, you should probably fix it.
There is no time to sulk after losing this hard fought battle as the Rebels take on the Elon Phoenix (2-2) at 8:30pm after their loss to West Virginia last night. The Cup will have the preview of this game as well.