After dropping a neutral site matchup against Western Kentucky last Saturday - a hangover game from a big win against Memphis or the long week taking finals — the Ole Miss Rebels took care of business against Middle Tennessee State and Dayton.
The Dayton win was crucial for any hopes at an at large bid come March. The Flyers resumes boasts wins over Kansas, Belmont and Miami. Dayton has some bad losses on their ledger and while losing would not have killed Ole Miss completely, the win will go a long way.
1 Player of the Game
Nysier Brooks- 16 points, 11 rebounds, three steals in 36 minutes
The player of the game could have went another way, but Brooks played all but four minutes in this one. The anchor of the Rebels defense was the game’s leading rebounder and second leading scorer in just his second double double on the season. His ability to patrol the paint and crash the glass will continue to be a key factor for Ole Miss going forward.
3 Key Stats
In the past I have said 80 is the magic number for Ole Miss for victory, but so far this season, the Rebs are 5-0 when scoring 75+ points. This team will almost always defend, the question persists to be about their ability to score. On the nights they can put the ball in the basket at a high level, they will win more often than not.
By way of 11 steals, Ole Miss managed to turn Dayton over 19 times in this one. Although the Rebels turned it over 16 times themselves, those +3 possessions were all the difference in a three possession victory.
That is the number of three pointers both teams hit. Not good. Luckily for Ole Miss, their poor shooting from behind the arc was matched by Dayton. If you’re Kermit Davis and your team can’t shoot it, you damn sure better be able to defend. At least in this one, they did just that.
1 Important Observation
On a veteran laden team, this season will go as true freshman Daeshun Ruffin and sophomore Matthew Murrell go. Ruffin was the main reason Ole Miss held off Dayton on Saturday with 19 points in 17 minutes off the bench. His ability to handle the ball and create for himself and others will be crucial in the SEC. He made countless plays down the stretch, plays we have yet to see Joiner or Crowley make.
Ole Miss looks to finish out non conference play against Samford on Tuesday before kicking off SEC play on Dec. 29 at home against Florida.