Three keys for Ole Miss against Vanderbilt
Ole Miss looks to have found its balance on offense thanks to a backcourt of Breein Tyree and Deandre Burnett at their natural positions (point guard and shooting guard, respectively). The Rebels (13-9, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) defeated Mississippi State, 88-61, Tuesday night in The Pavilion and will now face Vanderbilt (11-11, 4-5) Saturday at 2:00 pm in Nashville.
Though the Commodores lost four straight to begin league play, they’ve since turned things around. Under the leadership of first-year head coach Bryce Drew, Vandy has won three of its last four games, including a 68-66 win at Florida on January 21.
The Commodores defeated Iowa State last Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge in Nashville, with their lone loss over the last four games occurring by a single point to Arkansas in Nashville on Jan. 24.
The Rebels have fared well in recent meetings against Vanderbilt, having won five of their last six against the Commodores, including two in a row at Memorial Gym in Nashville.
Saturday’s game marks Ole Miss’ first trip back to Music City since the 2014 season. Head coach Andy Kennedy is 3-3 all-time at Memorial Gym.
With only nine leagues games before Ole Miss travels to Nashville for the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Rebels need to stay on the winning path from now until early March if they want a decent seed in the tournament. Here are three keys for Ole Miss in the contest with Vandy.
Three keys to Ole Miss’ matchup against Vanderbilt
1. Limit Vanderbilt’s 3-point shooting
The Commodores are known for their 3-point shooting. Junior guard/forward Matthew Fisher-Davis, who’s averaging a team-best 15.7 points per game, ranks second in the SEC, averaging 2.7 3-pointers a game. Vanderbilt leads the league knocking down 9.9 threes per game.
2. Keep Luke Kornet off the glass
Throughout the season, the Commodores have mainly relied on their frontcourt since their guards have struggled at times. Their 7-foot-1 post player, Luke Kornet, has played a key part in Vanderbilt’s offense, averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 42.8 percent from the field.
3. Maintain balanced scoring
Against the Bulldogs, the Rebels had four players score in double figures. Terence Davis led the way with 18 points. Sebastian Saiz recorded his 15th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 boards. Burnett and Tyree finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Coach Kennedy seems to have found the right starting lineup on the floor, with the four above-mentioned players, plus junior forward Marcanvis Hymon.
If Ole Miss has three or more players score in double figures, the Rebels should have no problem defeating the Commodores on the road.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017
Time: 2:00 p.m. (CT)
Location: Nashville, TN
Arena: Memorial Gymnasium (14,326)
(Feature image credit: Mario Parham, The Rebel Walk)
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.