Healthy Rebels pose challenge for Missouri team playing without Clark
Out with a detached retina, junior forward Sebastian Saiz didn’t play for Ole Miss the first time the Rebels faced Missouri back on Feb. 3. Yet, Ole Miss defeated the Tigers 76-73 in that game, and with Saiz back now–combined with Missouri’s dismissal of junior guard Wes Clark–the Rebels could pose a difficult challenge for the Tigers Tuesday in Oxford.
Clark dismissed from Missouri team
Clark, who was second on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg) and second on the team with 74 assists and 23 steals, was dismissed from the team prior to the Tigers’ 72-67 home win against South Carolina last Tuesday. The action results from Clark’s failure to improve his class attendance and grades.
The decision was made by the Mizzou Athletic Department, but second-year coach Kim Anderson didn’t contest Clark’s dismissal, a source close to the situation said.
Since Clark’s dismissal, Anderson has started freshman Cullen VanLeer at point guard. VanLeer has averaged five points and two rebounds since becoming the floor general for the offense.
Possible replacements at Guard for Mizzou
Guards Terrence Phillips and Tremaine Isabell could possibly be asked to become leaders offensively for a Missouri team that is averaging 68.1 points per game and shooting 41.7 percent from the field. But Anderson is auditioning all of his guards to see who can play pivotal roles.
“It would have to be Terrence, a guy that makes plays for other people,” Anderson said about Phillips, who’s fourth on the team in scoring (7.8 ppg). “So if I had to say one guy at this point, it would be Terrence Phillips or it could be Tremaine Isabell, a player that can break guys down off the dribble.”
Scouting the Tigers
With limited experience at the point guard position, the Tigers have had to rely on their frontcourt and will have to do so Tuesday night (8:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network) against the Rebels (17-10, 7-7 Southeastern Conference). Senior forward Ryan Rosburg, who scored 17 points – on 5 of 7 shooting – against the Gamecocks, has been the go-to guy for Missouri in recent weeks.
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy looks at the Tigers’ misfortunes as an opportunity booster for Rosburg and others to become reliable assets.
“He has played tremendously,” Kennedy said about Rosburg, who fouled out in his team’s 84-72 road loss at Arkansas on Saturday, finishing with 11 points. “Obviously with Wes Clark no longer being a part of their team, it has opened up opportunities.
“With Rosburg being a senior – the sense of urgency that comes with that – he has really stepped up in that void and provided great production. He’s scoring it at an efficient rate, always been a solid defender and rebounder in the post. Offensively, he’s playing great.”
Rebels prepared to make a run
While Missouri (10-17, 3-11) has taken a hit in its starting lineup at the wrong time of the year, the Rebels, with healthy bodies, hope to go on short run before the SEC Tournament begins in three weeks. Ole Miss has gone 2-2 in its last four games, with its last win coming against Auburn, 69-59. Senior guard Stefan Moody had 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Missouri’s Anderson thinks Moody is a tough matchup for any team in the SEC, and he also thinks Moody’s presence, alone, on the floor causes defensive problems since the versatile guard has the ability to shoot from long range and drive to the basket.
“Obviously when you face Ole Miss, you really have to be concerned with the great play of Stefan Moody, who’s a sensational player,” Anderson said about the SEC’s leading scorer (22.8 ppg). “A guy that does so much for his team. I think he does a great job distributing the basketball to other players and getting them shots.
“The first time we played them, Saiz was hurt, so that adds another dimension for them, makes their inside game even tougher.”
Anderson has paid attention to the ups and downs Ole Miss has faced during conference action, but feels the Rebels’ season is still very much in play, despite some heartbreaking losses to LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Florida.
“Yes I do,” Anderson’s response when he was asked whether or not the Rebels can go on a run. “I know they have battled.”
Feature image credit: SEC Network.com
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.