Rebels’ thin frontcourt will face challenge from Auburn’s Harris and Bowers
With junior forward Sebastian Saiz officially ruled out of Wednesday’s matchup (6:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network) against Auburn, Ole Miss will be shorthanded in its frontcourt and will have to rely on other healthy bodies to step up and have a positive impact.
The Rebels’ thin frontcourt will be tested against the Tigers’ frontline of Tyler Harris and Cinmeon Bowers, two of the Southeastern Conference’s most-proven big men, each of whom has the ability to dominate a game from start to finish–or take over a game when necessary.
Ole Miss will look for Anthony Perez and Marcanvis Hymon to make up for the absence of Saiz’s physical presence. Both players fared well against Mississippi State and helped keep the Rebels competitive in a game in which they were missing three Ole Miss starters.
Perez made all three of his shots from 3-point range to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Hymon added eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Scouting the Tigers
Harris, a transfer from Providence, is second on the team in scoring (15.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) for Auburn. Harris played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ 75-70 upset win over then-No. 14 Kentucky, scoring 21 points, on 6 of 11 shooting, and pulling down 11 rebounds.
In the Tigers’ 83-77 win over Alabama, Harris and Bowers combined for 34 points and 21 rebounds. Bowers is having close to a double-double statistical type of season, averaging 11.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, which ranks third in the SEC.
Ole head coach Andy Kennedy realizes the challenges the Rebels (12-7, 2-5) will face and continues to put a lot of emphasis on his players making plays when needed.
“For us, we have to continue to get guys to step up,” said Kennedy, who is 12-5 all-time against the Tigers, including six-straight wins. “Marcanvis Hymon, Tomasz Gielo, Terry Brutus, and Anthony Perez are the guys we have on our roster and we are going to have to try to put them in position where they can be successful,” Kennedy added.
Auburn (9-9, 3-4) is coming off a 95-63 defeat to Florida on Saturday, which dropped them to 0-3 in SEC play on the road. The Tigers rank dead last in the SEC in scoring defense allowing 78.2 points per game and have been outrebounded by opponents by 3.6 rebounds per game, which is last in the league.
Ole Miss is currently on a four-game losing streak, its longest of the season.
That’s what he said…
“You got to make plays in order to win games; all games are hard and Saturday was no different. But I did see some positives and some guys got some much-needed experience in a difficult environment,” Kennedy said of the Rebels’ 83-77 defeat in Starkville on Saturday.
In addition to Saiz’s absence, senior guard Stefan Moody is still day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and Kennedy mentioned during Monday’s SEC Basketball Coaches Media Teleconference that a decision on Moody won’t be made until game-day, Wednesday. Senior guard Martavious Newby is day-to-day as well, sidelined with an eye injury.
Kennedy says Fitzpatrick-Dorsey “is going to be a big part of our future”
Since Moody went down with a hamstring injury, freshman guard Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey has run the offense and Kennedy has been impressed with Fitzpatrick-Dorsey, who had to play catchup since he wasn’t granted eligibility until the end of the fall semester.
Against the Bulldogs, Fitzpatrick-Dorsey had 16 points, on 5 of 9 shooting, in 28 minutes of action.
“Once we get Moody back, we are going to try to play our best players and hopefully Donte’s confidence, his comfort level has improved since his last outing,” Kennedy said of the Southwind High (Memphis) product, who was a perfect 6 for 6 from the free throw line against Mississippi State.
“We feel like he’s a kid that’s going to be a big part of our future here.”
Ole Miss-Auburn series history
Wednesday’s game will be the 130th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1928. The Tigers hold an all-time series lead of 73-56, but the Rebels have won nine of the last 11 meetings.
Ole Miss knocked off Auburn 83-79 on The Plains last season and swept the Tigers in a home-and-home series in 2013. The Rebels are 39-23 all-time versus Auburn in Oxford and have won six-straight home games over the Tigers dating back to 2009.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)