It wasn’t always pretty, but Ole Miss handled South Carolina on the road on Saturday, winning its fourth-straight by a final of 81-74.
Devontae Shuler, from just down the road in Irmo, S.C., had a nice homecoming, dropping 31 point, a career-high to lead the Rebels in scoring. Jarkel Joiner had somewhat of a rough night, but not all of it was his fault. Sure, he didn’t shoot particularly well after dropping 21 on Wednesday against Missouri, but he also got jabbed in the left eye in the first half (an injury that plagued him throughout the game) and was called for a tech that was, as the kids say, “PISS POOR” for “hanging on the rim” after a dunk. It was dumb according to everyone on Planet Earth, and we stan Jarkel doing all the dunks and staying on the rim for as long as he wants. Free him.
Here’s how one member of the public reacted. He writes for a prominent media outlet, so you can trust his judgement.
Technical foul on Joiner is faaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt.— Gray Hardison (@BellyoftheBeast) February 14, 2021
For those of you keeping track at home, Ole Miss is undefeated in its last two weeks of basketball play. Before this timely winning streak, Ole Miss was averaging 63.1 PPG in conference play. In the midst of the four-straight wins, however, the Rebels are averaging 74.8 PPG, which, according to our statistics department, is called “positive growth”*.
* We do not have a statistics department. I made that up, but it sounded legit.
That’s not to say that Ole Miss is suddenly a great team when it comes to shooting the basketball, but they have certainly looked better the last couple of weeks than they had early-on in SEC play.
To put it frankly, if Ole Miss wanted to stay in the tournament conversation after winning three-straight, laying an egg in Columbia wasn’t an option. The Fightin’ Cocks were 104 in the NET coming into Saturday (Ole Miss was 57, by comparison), so a loss would essentially kill any NCAA Tourney hopes. In order to make the tournament, you have to beat good and bad teams (#analysis), and handling the Gamecocks on the road was what Ole Miss needed to keep rolling. Sure, things got hairy towards the end, but a win is a win, especially at this point of the season, and that is a good thing.
As of now, Ole Miss is off until next Saturday when it hosts Mississippi State, but there have been rumblings of the Rebels potentially picking up a midweek game next week according to the radio Voice of Ole Miss David Kellum. So, we’ll see what happens, but, for now, you can expect to see the Rebs again when they suit up and try to complete a season sweep of State on Feb. 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. on the SEC Network.