Well hello there competent Ole Miss basketball that is not painful to watch! We have missed you. Even in a loss, the Ole Miss Rebels did what it always does: provide hope.
Sure it ended in a familiar way, but there was something about this squad tonight that whispered that maybe, just maybe, it could do the improbable— which would also certainly guarantee head coach Kermit Davis returns next year.
The Rebels did drop a tough one against No. 7 Kentucky on the road in its penultimate regular season contest. Would Ruffin and Allen been enough to get them over the hump in a game like this or did Kentucky slightly overlook this team due to their putrid record?
Anyways, after a brief hiatus while I finished out coaching high school varsity basketball, the 1-3-1 makes its return.
1 Player of the Game
FIVE threes for Murrell! pic.twitter.com/Di8fe9qA4E— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) March 2, 2022
Matthew Murrell is an absolute menace. Go ahead and quote me (again), Murrell is the most talented basketball player to ever dress out for Ole Miss. 25 points and 4 assists on the road in a hostile SEC environment against a Top 10 team is something that stars do and a star he is.
The Ole Miss offensive game plan in the SEC Tourney should be Murrell shooting it about 30 times while the other four guys crash the offensive glass, imo.
He’s special and I hope he sticks around to provide more impressive outings like this one.
3 Key Stats
0 - This is perhaps the most wild stat of the season. That is the number of defensive rebounds credited to Nysier Brooks in this game. It would make sense if it were offensive considering he was matched up against the best rebounder in the NCAA, but 0 on the defensive end?
8 - On 100% shooting with three rebounds, freshman guard James White scored eight points in 10 minutes. There are a lot of words I would like to say about this, but mainly WTF took so long for him to get a chance? You’re telling me this kid has this kind of game and we just don't play him... for what?
Looks like a player that should be on the floor to me.
6 - That is the difference in the number of assists between Kentucky (18) and Ole Miss (12) in this game. The Rebs made 29 buckets and only 12 were assisted. There was little buy in to an offensive system (if there is one) and a lot of guys trying to do it themselves. I recall a stretch when Murrell hit back to back threes followed by a Joiner baseline step back pull up with zero passes and a Brakefield contested fast break lay-up. Your best player was feeling it, pulling you back into the game and you out here getting yours? The assists tell that story well enough.
1 Important Observation
Loyalty is often a quality desired, valued and sought after in a coach. It is a quality that is due to serve a recruiter well, sitting in front of that family in their living room. But loyalty to a player can also be a detriment. It was clear Jarkel Joiner was not contributing to winning in this game. Murrell was cooking in the first half, Joiner re-entered the game and the offense hit a rut.
On top of not being a true point guard, Joiner just has not been able to provide the scoring since his return from injury. The thing is, the Rebels don't need him too. They need him to take care of the ball, run the offense and pass it MM11. His point of attack defense was brutal all night, constantly getting beat off the dribble (yes to superior talents and athletes, but still). The team made its runs most often with him on the bench and I do not believe this to be a coincidence.
The Rebels season finale and senior night is this Saturday at 5pm against Vanderbilt and Scottie Pippen Jr.