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Ole Miss Drops SEC Opener to Alabama, 82-64

Ole Miss Drops SEC Opener to Alabama, 82-64

Tuesday night’s men’s basketball contest had all the makings of a fun one. Nate Oats’ Alabama squad and Kermit Davis’ Ole Miss team are about as far apart from each other strategically as possible, and we saw what happened when Fire meets Ice as the Crimson Tide defeated the Rebels, 82-64.

Alabama (6-3, 1-0) runs with an incredible pace, trying to score early in the shot clock while also hoisting up threes at an absurd clip. The Crimson Tide is 10th in the country, attempting 31 threes per game. Ole Miss (5-2, 1-0), however, loves to control the paint and make the opposition struggle to get into a rhythm offensively.

Photo credit: Alabama Athletics

It would be Alabama who set the tone early as the Tide’s pace gave Ole Miss fits. Alabama jumped out to a quick 8-0 run that left Ole Miss scrapping to find a way back for the rest of the game.

“The biggest concern is that we gave up 82,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “We could never get them under control. We could never get 13 under control at all.”

The No. 13 to whom Coach Davis refers is Jahvon Quinerly, the former Villanova transfer. He notched 24 points and five rebounds while breaking down the Rebel offense. John Petty Jr. tallied 13 and Alex Reese added 10. For the Tide last night was much of the same as the Tide made 12 triples on 37 attempts.

They just drove it tonight. We’ve got to keep them out of the paint and we didn’t do a very good job. We couldn’t stop the dribble for sure.

Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis

Ole Miss was forced to play catch-up for a majority of the game, but a tough night scoring–especially from outside–ruined the chances of a comeback. The Rebel offense struggled to get into a rhythm all night as Bama made it a point of emphasis to sink into the paint, effectively shrinking the floor. This would be the first time the Rebels would lose the battle in the paint all season, with Alabama scoring 32 to Ole Miss’ 30.

The Rebels shot 33% from the field on 22-65 shooting while going 1-13 from three, a little below 8%.

Ole Miss was led by Romello White who notched a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. K.J. Buffen played the game with heart, and at times was the engine keeping the Rebels in the hunt as he added 15 on 6-10 shooting while adding both four offensive and defensive rebounds.

Major Takeaways 

No. 1 –  Death by Depth?

There will always be games where teams are taken out of their element and forced to adapt in some way. So far this season, Ole Miss hasn’t necessarily had to do that so getting a game like this out of the way could be a blessing in disguise. The big issue with a game where things aren’t going your way is being able to fall back on the core concepts by which the team has lived.

One of those concepts Ole Miss has lived on thus far this season has been getting a spark from the bench and giving some rotation to let starters rest or to shake things up. Tuesday, however, we saw the Rebel rotation go to about nine, realistically. The problem was that while we saw Jarkel Joiner and Matthew Murrell come off the bench and play 25+ minutes, players like Austin Crowley and Robert Allen came in for a couple of minutes at a time and struggled to find any sort of rhythm. The notice was evident as the Rebels added only 19 points off the bench while Alabama added 54.

No. 2 – A Game of Runs and of Opportunity

Anyone will tell you that basketball is a game of runs and that both teams in a game will have them. Where the game is separated, though, is how quickly you stop the other team’s runs and how well can you expand on yours. Even with how poorly the Rebels shot the ball, there were still a handful of moments where Ole Miss was just a bucket away from cracking the Bama lead to five. It was Bama’s ability to stop Ole Miss’s runs that kept them driving ahead. If Ole Miss had managed to get that lead down to five, you might have seen a different ending.

The best example of this came late in the first half with about five minutes left. Alabama had just gone on a 8-0 run that set the Tide lead at 12. Ole Miss then rallied with a small 8-3 run to cut it back down to seven. Devontae Shuler attacked on a fast break with a minute and a half left before halftime, ultimately getting blocked by Alex Reese. The result of that play ended up as a foul on Ole Miss that sent Reese to the line and pushed the Tide’s lead back up to nine — instead of the lead being potentially five.

Alabama would take a nine point lead into half which is a lot tougher for the second half than a potentially five-point deficit.

No. 3 – Leaving Points on the Board

Even with its shooting woes, Ole Miss still battled last night. They grabbed 47 rebounds, 19 of which were offensive. Romello White grabbed 15 boards while the duo of Buffen and Rodriquez grabbed 8 apiece. When you have rebounds, you obviously gain a second chance at scoring points. When a team like Bama can score as quickly as it does, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. Ole Miss grabbed five more offensive rebounds (19-14) than the Tide, but Alabama doubled Ole Miss’ second-chance points.

In a game where Ole Miss struggled to find points, the Rebs found themselves at the free throw line 35 times. Unfortunately, Ole Miss converted just nineteen from the charity stripe for a 54% clip. The Tide also shot poorly from the line, 58% on 24 attempts, but the extra 11 attempts the Rebels had could’ve gone a long way in narrowing the gap.

No. 5 – Perimeter Passing Problems

Ole Miss has had its struggles making passes this year, and this goes beyond assists. At times, the Rebels struggle to get solid post feeds, as oftentimes they are either tipped or too high. When they swing around the outside or drive and kick, the Rebs don’t always hit players in the pocket and that can be the difference in an open shot getting off or having to gather and swing again.

The Alabama game brought these problems to light as Ole Miss only notched three assists all game. All three of these assists came from a single player (Luis Rodriquez). A lot of the poor shooting could be attributed to this as the question becomes how many rhythm shots did Ole Miss attempt and how many catch-and-shoot or catch-and-one-dribble pull-up opportunities did they cleanly have on the outside?

Next Up

Ole Miss hosts Wichita State at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 2, in The Pavilion.

About The Author

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is a current MBA student at Ole Miss after having earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toledo. He currently covers college hoops and the NBA Draft for the Basketball Society as well as all things Ole Miss for The Rebel Walk.

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