Five Big Impressions from Ole Miss’ 82-61 Win over New Orleans
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss defeated the New Orleans Pioneers, 82-61, on Tuesday night in the Rebels’ season opener.
Head coach Kermit Davis was able to play a healthy eleven-man rotation for the contest, with a total of fourteen seeing action on the night. This led to a diverse scoring output as Ole Miss finished with multiple players scoring in double figures.
There are always things that the box score won’t tell — things that you have to see to understand, or things you might see but which may not resonate at first. I like to dive into those things. Some are only flashes, while others are things we may expect more of in the future. Overall, the Rebels really impressed me in this season opener and have some good building blocks for this stage in the season.
Here are five impressions from the game.
The Shooting of Austin Crowley and Tye Fagan
It had been talked about in the offseason how improved of a shooter Austin Crowley had become. If you watched the Trevecca scrimmage or listened to head coach Kermit Davis, you would hear him say as much. However, sometimes single-game performances can be misleading. That being said, Crowley put those doubts to rest today as he made five of six shots and three triples.
It wasn’t just his three triples that wowed me, but the ways he got them. We saw one off a baseline out-of-bounds (BLOB) play on a dribble hand-off and another off flare movement on a double screen. Crowley’s improvement as a shooter drastically improve his ceiling as a player, and he can now be relied upon to knock down shots.
The other player of note here is Tye Fagan. The Georgia transfer didn’t take a lot of deep shots last season. However, he was two-for-two tonight. It’s not just about the deep shots, though, as Fagan also showed a flash of impressive creation ability with a nice drive and a jumper that he created. Overall, he can do more offensively than what many thought.
The Jumbo Pick-N-Roll
Ah yes, the sign of a good coach is adapting to the talent around you. When you watch NBA games, you’re starting to see bigs who can facilitate and play-make. Examples of this are found in Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. They occasionally get asked to do a pick-n-roll. It’s a common play, but normally forwards are asked to be the pick-man in these. Jokic and Embiid’s special ability allows them to be the one operating it as the handler.
Ole Miss actually can replicate this action. Jaemyn Brakefield has a skilled game with a solid handle, and we saw three or four pick-n-rolls with him being the handler and Nysier Brooks being the roll man.
As the game went on, we saw Jaemyn become more comfortable in this as the first two didn’t lead to an open shot or roll, but with Brakefield’s playmaking ability and Brooks’ rim running it was bound to work out. Eventually, we saw a defensive hesitation of how to defend and Jaemyn finished an easy lay-up out of it. This will be something that can be so fun especially if Ole Miss can keep up its perimeter shooting/off-ball movement to complement this action.
A point of emphasis that Coach Davis mentioned after the scrimmage against Trevecca was being able to get back and stop the fast break. Ole Miss turned the ball over twelve times in the contest against New Orleans. That led to only six points.
The Pioneers also finished with 12 fast-break points. Subtract the six from the turnovers, and that’s only another quick six that UNO could muster. It’s a small detail, but one that could change the outcome of games. Giving up twelve turnovers, it’s nice to see that only half (so far) led to points. It is always a good sign to see teams being able to play out the coach’s points of emphasis especially this early on in the season.
We’ve seen it before. It’s a staple of any good Kermit Davis team — a lengthy athletic four-man paired with fast guards who can trap in the corners. It makes it tough to get easy passes off and it allows the backside to attack on the fly. It led to them getting the lead back against Trevecca.
Against UNO it helped them during a massive 19-2 run in the first half. The Rebels switched to a 1-3-1 and immediately got a few big deflections because of it. The Pioneers simply didn’t have an answer for it and paid the price as the Ole Miss offense got back on track.
Out of the 82 points Ole Miss scored on Tuesday night, 18 would come from dunks. This turns out to be an astonishing 22% of the Rebels total points. The Rebels made highlight plays all over the floor. Whether it be in transition or off a lob in the half court Ole Miss was throwing it down.
This wasn’t one or two people partaking in the fun either. It was everyone. Jarkel Joiner caught a lob, Nysier Brooks caught a lob. Matthew Murrell showed off his impressive vertical. Murrell also won the team dunk competition. Luis Rodriguez had a couple in transition.
The Rebs were having fun out there, and those in attendance at the Sandy and John Black Pavilion were too. This reminded me of the Lob City Clippers, or if you’re are older than me those fun Showtime Lakers teams in the eighties.
Started the season off 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙤𝙥. pic.twitter.com/WBj3QwhVX8
— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) November 10, 2021
PUT. HIM. ON. A. POSTER.@JarkelJoiner rises up on the alley-oop to continue the Rebels' scoring run!
— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) November 10, 2021
The next highlight-filled (hopefully) game will be on Friday as the Rebels stay at home to play Charleston Southern. That game tips off at 6:00 PM CT and will be available to watch on SEC Network+.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
TJ Oxley is the Vice President of Operations and the Director of Community Relations for The Rebel Walk. He is also the Director of Basketball Content and Senior Basketball Writer. He has over five years of experience providing in-depth analysis of college basketball through multiple platforms. A former MBA graduate of Ole Miss, TJ started with The Rebel Walk in 2019.