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Ole Miss’ Offensive Woes Strike Again in 74-59 loss to Arkansas

Ole Miss’ Offensive Woes Strike Again in 74-59 loss to Arkansas

Ole Miss strolled into Fayetteville fresh off its best week of SEC play, following a win on the road over Mississippi State and a home victory over Texas A&M. Over that two-game stretch, the Rebels allowed just an average of 48 points. Arkansas, on the other hand, plays a more upbeat style of play that sees them score 85 points per game. Although they didn’t reach that average, the Razorbacks still prevailed Wednesday night, defeating the Rebels, 74-59.

“We’ve got to win games in the high 50s and 60s” head coach Kermit Davis said after the game. “That’s just who we are. We have to play to our strengths. We’ve got to guard.”

The Rebels now have a road trip to Georgia that will begin a tough stretch to end the season, with games that features the likes of Tennessee, an improved Auburn team, and Missouri–twice.

First-half action

After the opening tip, the Rebels would cause fits for the Razorbacks for the early part of the first half, forcing some early turnovers. However, around the twelve-minute media timeout, Arkansas started to go into attack mode and came out with a quick 9-0 run, a majority of which was courtesy of the Razorbacks’ Davonte Davis. This would give Arkansas a comfortable double-digit lead that Eric Mussleman’s squad would take into halftime.

The Razorbacks would shoot 46% from the floor in the first and 42% from deep in the first. The Rebels, on the other hand, struggled to shoot outside in the first, going 0-9 from deep. Ole Miss played with a lot of energy early on, but struggled to adjust to an Arkansas trap.

“We’ve got to guard and be the most physical team out there. It’s the only way we are going to win,” Davis said.

Second-half action

The second half brought more of the same. The Rebels would fight, but another 9-0 run in the second would send the Razorbacks to a lead that would extend as high as 20. The teams traded buckets, but Arkansas would emerge victorious, 74-59, and continue its home dominance as the Razorbacks notched their 11th win of the season at Bud Walton Arena.

Scoring

Devontae Shuler finished with 19 points. (Photo courtesy Ole Miss Athletics)

Arkansas (13-4, 5-4 SEC) was led by J.D. Notae who finished with 19 points and 5 rebounds. Notae would shoot 8-9 from the line.

Davonte Davis and Connor Vanover would also provide serviceable contributions. Davis scored 14 on 7-9 shooting with 6 rebounds, while Vanover added 8 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Ole Miss finished the game shooting 44% from the field, which compares to Arkansas’ 48%. A big difference came as the Rebs shot 1-16 from deep for a 6% mark, while the Razorback’s shot 7-17 from deep (41%).

Ole Miss was led by Devontae Shuler who notched 19 points on 9-12 shooting. Jarkel Joiner and Luis Rodriquez were the only other Rebels who scored in double figures: Joiner notched 11 while Rodriquez added 10.

Three Observations

1) The Ball was taken out of Shuler’s Hands

As Arkansas has done in games earlier in the season, they ran a very high trap that took the ball away from Devontae Shuler. It was a situation where other players needed to be decisive on how to attack with numbers in the last 1/4 of the court. Whether it would be a dump down low, kick to a corner, or even a quick floater, the Rebels could’ve made a couple of quick plays to stop that trap a lot sooner.  The clip below is a better visual representation.

“They just yucked up the game. We got across and it’s four against three. We have to make plays. Nobody can makes plays, but we got to make plays,” Coach Davis lamented after the game.

Instead, the Rebels tried to make plays from the perimeter which led to a tough shooting performance. It is frustrating to watch Ole Miss shoot so poorly from outside because they are better shooters than that.

2) Coach Davis Admits His Frustration

One of the most interesting comments from all of the pressers this entire season came last night.

I have never tinkered with offense more in my entire career than I have with this team.

Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis

Davis has tried different lineups, different rotations, and different sets to get it to work, but tonight we saw his frustration. There were some good looks and the Rebels made some shots, but this isn’t the team Davis envisioned for the season back in the summer.

I apologize to our fans. I hate it, but that’s who we are right now and I hate it.”

Coach Kermit Davis

It is worth noting we did see a good feed to Romello White off a cross screen down low. It ultimately got blocked, but the move was an adjustment that wasn’t executed on by White. We also saw an off double screen with a flair by Jarkel Joiner for three on the wing that was a good look that rimmed out.

3) Credit to Devontae

There was a lot of frustration after the loss; however, that should not overshadow the credit Devontae Shuler is due. He played with heart the entire contest in a game where the focus was to get the ball out of his hands.

He hit incredibly tough shots, making all nine of his FGs inside the arc. If you’re keeping track, Shuler has now eclipsed five straight games scoring over seventeen points.  He embodies everything it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel, and I give him a nice tip of the cap for that. Much respect to Devontae.

Next Up

The Rebels continue on the road with the next contest coming against Georgia in Athens at 5:00 p.m. Saturday. Ole Miss lost to the Bulldogs, 78-74, at home earlier this season.  The game is now considered a must-win for the Rebs to avoid being stuck at the bottom of the conference. UGA is 9-6 with a 2-6 record in conference play.

(Feature image courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)

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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