Three keys for Ole Miss against South Carolina
Ole Miss’ season hit a speed bump Wednesday night after the Rebels suffered a 69-47 loss to Georgia at The Pavilion. Ole Miss is now 0-6 against the RPI Top 50 and, to make matters worse, redshirt junior guard Deandre Burnett went down with an ankle injury in the loss to the Bulldogs. He has been listed as day-to-day after having an MRI on Thursday, and his status will be a game-time decision.
That’s not good news for the Rebels as Burnett was the team’s leading scorer (18.0 points per game) and was a great complement to senior forward Sebastian Saiz, who tends to see double teams each time he touches the basketball.
If Ole Miss is without Burnett in Saturday night’s game at South Carolina, the Rebels will have to account for his points, as he is fourth in the SEC in total scoring (288 points) this season (through all games).
The Gamecocks are off to just their second 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference competition since joining the league in 1991-92. Going into Saturday’s game, South Carolina currently ranks first in the league in scoring defense, field goal percent defense, and 3-pt field goal percent defense. The Rebels will be facing a Gamecocks team whose stingy defense has allowed only 60 points per game.
South Carolina is chasing its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004. So far, the Gamecocks have a good road win over Georgia and sport a 6-2 overall record against the RPI Top 100.
Here are three keys to the Ole Miss-South Carolina matchup:
1. Solid point guard play
Burnett may not be able to go, so that means freshman combo guard Breein Tyree will have to start in Burnett’s place. Tyree has played in 14 of the team’s 16 games, starting three, and is averaging 3.1 points and one rebound per game. Tyree is shooting 37.5 percent from the field and has turned the ball over 16 times. Tyree will need to take care of the basketball and score more points than he has had to this season.
2. Get off to fast start
Ole Miss has been a pretty good basketball team when it gets off to a solid start. The Rebels are 7-1 this season when they are up at the half. When trailing after the first 20 minutes, Ole Miss is 3-5.
3. Shoot 40 percent or better against the Gamecocks
Against the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday night, Ole Miss shot 14 of 51 from the field. The Rebels struggled from every area on the floor, making just 2 of 19 from 3-point range and 17 of 32 free throws.
South Carolina is holding its opponents to 36.8 percent shooting overall, and 27.8 percent from deep. If Ole Miss wants to get its first marquee win of the season, it will have to shoot better than it did against Georgia.
Series history vs. South Carolina
Saturday’s game will be the 36th meeting between the two schools on the hardwood, with Ole Miss holding an 18-17 series advantage. South Carolina leads the all-time series in Columbia, but the Rebels took the last road meeting 75-74 in 2014. Ole Miss has dropped the last two meetings, including a home setback last year, but has won five of the last eight matchups.
The home team has taken 13 of the last 16 matchups in the series. Andy Kennedy is 6-8 against the Gamecocks (6-7 with Ole Miss, 0-1 with Cincinnati).