How Ole Miss looks headed into Alabama

Ole Miss has a big road test at Alabama tonight (8pm, ESPNU).

The Crimson Tide narrowly lost to No. 1 Tennessee 71-68 on Saturday. The Tide is in ESPN’s “First Four Out” in the NCAA Bracket predictions and ranked 50th in the NCAA’s NET ranking. It also opened SEC play with a win over Kentucky, so Alabama is a team that deserves respect despite losing three of its last four SEC games.

OLE MISS: 14-3 (4-1 SEC)
ALABAMA: 11-6 (2-3 SEC)

SEC STANDINGS

  1. Tenn 5-0
  2. LSU 4-0
  3. Kentucky 4-1
  4. South Carolina 4-1
  5. Ole Miss 4-1
  6. State 2-2
  7. Auburn 2-2
  8. Alabama 2-3
  9. Florida 2-3
  10. Mizzou 1-3
  11. A&M 1-4
  12. Arkansas 1-4
  13. Georgia 1-4
  14. Vanderbilt 0-5

The Rebs are sitting pretty, but they gotta win to maintain. There’s a lot of basketball to play.

The New and Improved Breein Tyree is powering Ole Miss to Victory

Aside from new coach Kermit Davis, the main difference between the last place Ole Miss Rebels of a year ago and the current 14-3 (4-1 SEC) squad has been the great play of Breein Tyree.

Tyree averaged just 10 points per game a year ago, and after the disappointing season ended I wondered (maybe for no good reason) if Tyree would even return for his junior season after the coaching change.

But Tyree did come back and, wow, has he been a difference-maker for the Rebels. Tyree had his team-leading 8th 20-point (or more) game in the 84-67 win over Arkansas on Saturday. He’s also the Rebels’ leading scorer (17.5 ppg). I never saw either one of those things coming, but apparently Kermit Davis did (thank you Kermit!).

Terence Davis (16.2 ppg) and Tyree have combined to give Ole Miss one of the best back court’s in the SEC, and thanks in no small part to the dynamic duo, the Rebels are winning.

Tyree also seems to have grown into a leader, telling the media on Saturday he would be willing to move back to point guard if an injury to Devontae Shuler makes it necessary.

“Whatever Coach needs me to do, I am going to do it,” Davis said.

The words ring of something a mature, team-player would say and that attitude may be yet another reason the Rebels are enjoying a fantastic start.

LINKS

SEC STANDINGS (Rebs hovering near the top)

Up 4 spots to 24th in NET Rankings

CBS Bracket: 5 Seed

I still can’t believe the Saints got robbed of a return to the Super Bowl:

Rebs return to winning ways

There’s always that fear after a loss that it will snowball, and that all the good from that 10-game winning streak and 4-0 SEC start will get erased.

Ole Miss put those fears to rest on Saturday, beating Arkansas 84-67 and improving to 14-3 (4-1 SEC). In so doing, the Rebels likely maintained their Top 25 status, NCAA Tournament-worthy NET ranking (28th as of Jan. 18) and Bracketologist love.

“Coming off a loss, you never want two in a row,” Breein Tyree said. “We had a bad taste in our mouths from LSU, we knew we could have played better, and we wanted to come out and show the fans that we’re still here and still a high-level team.”

Tyree (22 pts) and Terence Davis (18 pts) combined for nearly half of the Rebels’ points. When those two are both “on” at the same time not many teams will stand a chance.

Dominik Olejniczak scored a season-high 13 points. The giant’s confidence seems to be growing. He could be a real factor for Ole Miss as this season progresses.

Ole Miss travels to Alabama (11-6, 2-3 SEC) on Tuesday. Don’t let the Crimson Tide’s record fool you, they put quite a scare into the normally dominant Tennessee Vols on Saturday. The Rebels will be tested in Tuscaloosa.

But for now, it’s hard not to feel good about the Ole Miss Rebels.

LINKS:

Ole Miss rolls over Arkansas

CBS Bracket: 6 Seed

SEC Standings (still looking good)

Kermit’s comeback story

Andy Kennedy interviewing Kermit Davis feels weird

 

 

It’s “Something to Prove Saturday” for Arkansas and Ole Miss

Ole Miss better not let its guard down against Arkansas on Saturday. The Razorbacks (10-6, 1-3 SEC) are facing the possibility of their first 4-game losing streak in nearly a decade after dropping games to Florida, LSU and a blowout loss to Tennessee on Tuesday.

“It’s a big game from a lot of different ways,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “It’s an opportunity for us to rebound after playing against a very, very talented Tennessee team that really took us to the woodshed. What I mean by that is they hit us early and we contributed to that, too.  We played on our heels.  So going back out on the road you don’t want to do that. Lessons learned for our basketball team. Against a team of that caliber and they are playing well you’ve got to play your best basketball. What I liked, I liked the fight in our guys. I thought we had some guys that in the second half they could have folded their tent but they didn’t. So I’m looking to get that fighting spirit, that kind of mindset and add execution to it and go against an Ole Miss team that’s playing well. It’s life in the SEC and you’ve got to have short term memory and get ready for the next game.”

The Razorbacks will visit Oxford with something to prove.

Ole Miss has something to prove, too, though, like that it deserves its spot in the Top 25 and a spot in all of those projected NCAA Tournament brackets.  Two losses in one week would do damage to both of those.

Winning streak comes to an end

Ole Miss finally had an “off” night, and LSU is a pretty good basketball team.

Those two things sum up an 83-69 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night. It’s unfortunate that it had to happen in front of a sold-out Pavilion crowd eager to participate in a 10-game winning streak and witness their Top 25 basketball team make it 11 straight.

But them’s just the breaks. Sometimes good basketball teams lose, and that’s especially true when the other team also happens be good.

Ole Miss shot 40 percent from the floor, but just 28 percent from 3-pt range and was only 9 of 17 from the free throw line.

Kermit Davis blamed poor ball movement. 

“We just had no ball movement offensively, didn’t trust the offense in the first half,” Davis said. “The ball never really got off the ground, didn’t seem like we were dribbling for shots.”

That wasn’t good enough against LSU, which improved to 13-3 (3-0 SEC). The Tigers, winners of six in a row, are a good team. Maybe a really good team. Time will tell on that, but they can shoot and they have a couple of really big guys down low that can do some serious damage. LSU is good.

Ole Miss is good, too, but not on Tuesday night.

“One of those games,” Davis said. “We’ve got to let it go and have a short memory.” 

Hopefully the fans will have a short memory, too, as a big home crowd would help get back in the W column against Arkansas on Saturday.

Sometimes a loss can be a good thing. It can be used to teach a team what kind of effort and skill is needed to win. It’s cliché, but true, there are no off nights in the SEC.

Craddock Court should be rocking tonight

Ole Miss is 13-2 (3-0 SEC), hasn’t lost a game since November 24 and has the country’s attention after consecutive wins over Top 15 opponents, garnering a No. 18 ranking and a lot of praise from the college basketball press.

And so the scene is set for an 8pm showdown against LSU (12-3, 2-0).

Anybody that’s watched the Rebels play recently can plainly see that their shot-selection has improved markedly since last year. I was amazed by the way the ball was passed around the floor against Auburn and Mississippi State.

This story from the AP captured the numbers that demonstrate how efficient Ole Miss is offensively:

They are shooting 49.9 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from 3-point range and 76.1 percent at the foul line. They’re averaging 79.8 points per game and have logged assists on more than 57 percent of their buckets.

Ole Miss entered the week ranked 15th nationally in field goal percentage and 20th nationally in free throw percentage. It also ranked in the top 50 in 3-point percentage and assists. Its top three scorers are all hitting between 40 and 42 percent from 3-point range, led by Breein Tyree, who averages 17.5 points per game.

Here’s hoping this keeps up tonight in front of a sold out and loud Ole Miss crowd.

Ole Miss will move into the national spotlight with a win over Mississippi State

After the big W against Auburn on Wednesday night, the college basketball world is starting to take note of what Kermit Davis has going on in Oxford.

If the win over 11th ranked Auburn got the nation’s attention, following it up with a victory at No. 14 Mississippi State on Saturday would will push the Rebels all the way into the spotlight and probably the Top 25, too.

What a huge opportunity for Ole Miss on Saturday!

Nobody at Humphrey Coliseum will want to beat Mississippi State more than Kermit Davis.

Ole Miss may be for real this time

It’s too early to start dreaming big, but I can’t help it. Not after Ole Miss led No. 11 Auburn from wire to wire and won 82-67 in front of a fairly raucous Pavilion crowd.

The 3’s were falling, dunks were dropping and the crowd was screaming.

Craddock Court was lit.

Kermit Davis and the Rebels are 12-2 (2-0 SEC) and riding a 9-game winning streak.

A win over Auburn says this might be real.

It might actually be real, and it’s hard not to get excited.

We’ve seen the Ole Miss bubble pop so many times over the years that it’s hard to let yourself buy in, but what happened on Wednesday night is undeniable.

Terence Davis was the Terence Davis we hoped he’d be last year. Electric.

Breein Tyree didn’t have to do much in this game, but he’s already established his ability to dominate (see his 31 points at Vanderbilt).

This team may win us a lot of ball games. If Ole Miss wins in Starkville on Saturday my head may explode.

HIGHLIGHTS OF OLE MISS VS AUBURN

Rich Rod’s first order of business should be to convince Jerrion Ealy to play some football at Ole Miss

I’m trying really hard to keep all of my emotional defenses up so that I’m not completely crushed by Jerrion Ealy choosing to play professional baseball (he’s projected as a 1st round pick) or going to Clemson. Ealy is currently “committed” to Ole Miss, but he’s taking a look at Clemson, and the baseball draft is still to come. It’s a lot to overcome. Stay strong, Jake. Stay. Strong.

EALY SETS RUSHING RECORD AT UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICAN GAME