Men’s Basketball Preview: Ole Miss hosts Mississippi Valley State
OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss men’s basketball team is searching for something. Through five games we have seen flashes of the talent and depth this team has; however, the Rebs still lack a bit of polish, which is a fair assessment to make at this early point in the season. Any team with the kind of turnover and loss of production from a year ago should have these questions.
Most recently Ole Miss competed in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic where they finished with a 1-2 record. The one win against Elon was expected. The two losses (against Marquette and Boise State) were games that hurt but also may not be as big of resume killers as one would expect. Marquette is playing really good basketball (minus the St. Bonaventure game), and Boise only lost one piece from their roster last year. Simply put, they both maybe tournament teams.
Ole Miss is still looking for its identity offensively. We know this team is deep, and so far shot distribution is scattered. I actually think at this point it’s a good thing as we are getting to see what everyone can do and watch the confidence build in every player. Ole Miss has seven players shooting over five FG attempts per game — eight, really, as Robert Allen is not far off at 4.4 per game.
The other side is that Ole Miss needs to find its secondary scorer. Jarkel Joiner is the leader of this team, no question about it. The next guy after that is still in question. No other player on the roster is averaging over 10 FGs attempted per game. We’ve seen sets run for Matthew Murrell to get shots off of movement. Crowley has operated as a PNR handler. Brakefield has gotten isolation opportunities. Brooks has had dive opportunities.
Head coach Kermit Davis has done a good job of allowing players to play within their strengths. Someone needs to seize the day and be the guy alongside Joiner if this team is going to take the next step in December. Ole Miss has two more chances to find that guy before a critical part of the schedule comes in December.
The Rebels have a game today against Mississippi Valley State and one on Tuesday against Rider. Let’s get a look at the MVSU Delta Devils.
NOVEMBER 26TH VS MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
- 2021-2022 Record: 0-2
- Coach: Lindsey Hunter
- 2020-2021 Record: 2-22 (2-13)
- Final 2020-2021 NET Ranking: 347th
- Key Additions: Jay Barnes (VC / HS), Khalil Turner (JUCO / VC)
- Key Losses: Kamron Cunningham (Transfer), Treylan Smith (Transfer), Alexander Perry (Transfer), Donaldson Fanord (Transfer)
The amount of turnover the MVSU program has had to deal with over the last few years is astonishing. This offseason didn’t help as they lost two very valuable players to the transfer market in Kamron Cunningham and Treylan Smith. They are still looking to fill out the rest of the roster but have a few commits on board to join Coach Hunter.
Last year’s MVSU team was ranked last in the country in NET Rankings. This is another buy game. Coach Hunter has a nice coaching history, spending time in the NBA as an assistant and as an interim, while also getting the opportunity to learn from fellow SEC coach Nate Oats during his Buffalo tenure.
MVSU has switched its identity from last year. They were 21st in the entire country on that mark last year. This year they’ve focused on attacking the rim more. Hunter’s squad is tenth in the nation in two-pointers attempted and tenth in the nation in free throws attempted. The key to watch is if the physicality of Ole Miss on defense translates to steals/errant shots or fouls/MVSU free throws. The Delta Devils are led by their sharpshooter Caleb Hunter and Gary Grant.
Overall, this is a game where one could expect to see Ole Miss use its entire roster if all goes as planned as the Rebels should just out-talent this team. Expect a game where Ole Miss should score 85+.
The Rebels and MVSU tip off at 3:00 p.m. Click here to listen live.