The college basketball season is officially underway and the Hardwood Rebels started their season out with a victory over the University of New Orleans, 82-61.
The Rebels got off to a slow a start, trailing 15-11 after a flurry of made UNO three’s before the Rebels settled in and eventually emptied their bench. Kermitt Davis played everyone on his roster, yes including those beloved end of the bench guys, as Ole Miss cruised in the second half.
The 1-3-1 reports this season will include 1 player of the night, 3 key statistics of the game and 1 important observation.
1 Player of the Game
If this is a sign of things to come, the Rebels will have a better offensive season than anticipated. Crowley shot 23% on one three point attempt per game last season. In game one of his junior campaign, Austin was 3-4 and ended with a team high 13 points. Leading the team in scoring is not a guarantee to be player of the game. Crowley gets this honor for his overall impact on the victory.
While Ole Miss was trailing early and seemingly stuck in the mud, Crowley knocked down his three threes to swing the momentum permanently in Ole Miss’ favor. On top of his highly efficient shooting night, he was second on the team in rebounds (4), tied for the lead in assists (4) and tied for the team lead in steals (3). Austin did a bit of everything for the Rebels in what was just his fourth career start.
3 Key Stats
Ole Miss turned their opponent over 19 times on the night, good for a +7 differential. The chaos really began when Kermit came out of a timeout in his 1-3-1 half court pressure defense. The key to this defense is the length of the Rebels combined with their mid line playing above the arc. Their activity level led to several deflections and steals, ultimately slowing down UNO’s early offensive attack.
9 Three Pointers
The Rebs hit nine three pointers on Tuesday night at a 40% clip. Last season, Ole Miss hit 9 threes in a game, twice. They were 1-0 shooting above 40% like they did last night. This is a huge number as perimeter shooting is a major question mark surrounding this roster. If Crowley and Murrell (1-3) can both take a leap in their efficiency this season, it will be quite the needed boost for a team that can often get bogged down in the half court.
Keep this number in mind as the season goes on. I said it in the season preview, in college basketball, if you can score 80, you are going to win a lot of games. Under Kermit Davis, Ole Miss is 24-3 in games in which they scored 80 points or more. The games they lost?
87-86 to Memphis.
90-86 to Florida in OT
83-82 to Auburn in OT
Score 80 and you give yourself a chance to win the game. Ole Miss did this in game 1 and walked away victorious, again.
1 Important Observation
Let’s talk about the transfers. I am not sure how long Fagan will play off the bench but his reputation as an efficient scorer proved true in game one going 4-5 and 2-2 from deep. His veteran leadership and scoring ability will be vital down the stretch of the season.
Man, Nysier Brooks is an X factor. A legit seven footer with 130+ games of experience, Brook’s presence was felt all night. He may have only blocked one shot, but he altered several others and defended without fouling. He should be a double double guy all season, so hopefully the low rebound total in game one is not a trend.
Let’s pump the BRAKEfield on Jaemyn. There is a reason he transferred from Duke and it is probably not because he was homesick. Duke has a team full of dudes and in game one of his sophomore campaign in Oxford, he did not look like a dude. I’d pick him first in the Turner center for an open run because of his size, but Kermit clearly values the veteran presence over Allen, which tells us, the skill isn't as impressive as the number of recruiting stars might have suggested. Probably an early overreaction, so I am clearly open to being wrong here.
The Rebels will be back in action Friday night against Charleston Southern in Oxford at 7pm CST.