Ole Miss Looks to Bounce Back Against Elon
Tonight Ole Miss looks to bounce back from a tough loss against Marquette last night, 72-78. After looking very good in the first half against the Golden Eagles, the Rebels fizzled out in the second half. Ole Miss lost despite some impressive performances and balanced scoring across the board.
In tonight’s contest, the Rebels face Elon (2-2) who enters the contest after losing to West Virginia in round one. Elon may be the smallest program in the tournament, but the Phoenix are a scrappy bunch who, like Marquette, never give in to submission.
Most fans don’t know a lot about Elon, so here’s a preview to get you familiar.
- 2021-2022 Record: 2-2
- Coach: Mike Schrage
- 2020-2021 Record: 10-9 (4-7)
- Final 2020-2021 NET Ranking: 188th
- Key Additions: Torrence Washington (Transfer), Andrew Junkin (Transfer), R.J. Noord (HS), Sam Sherry (HS)
- Key Losses: Ikenna Ndugba (PRO) Simon Wright (Transfer), Brandon Harris (Transfer)
The Phoenix had some injuries last year that makes them rather deceiving. A relatively small school in North Carolina, Elon still has a place in this event. The team returns its leading scorer, Hunter McIntosh, who was named to the Preseason Colonial Conference First Team. Junior Guard Zac Ervin has also taken a big leap as a scorer this year averaging 14.5 PPG so far this season.
The Phoenix are 44th in the nation, averaging 28 three-points attempts per contest. The team’s three main scorers (Ervin, McIntosh, Watson) all average over 4.5 three-point attempts per game. The Phoenix play a smaller lineup with one forward at 6’8″ looking to space out the offense. On defense, you can see a mixture of stuff including a 1-3-1 or 2-3 zone.
Three Keys For Ole Miss
Use Your Size
As stated earlier, the biggest player in the Elon starting lineup is 6’8.” This is based on the lineups from the first three games. It is possible that Sam Sherry (6’10”) or Andrew Junkin (6’11”) will get more run this game due to Ole Miss’ size. Regardless, the Rebels will still have a size and athletic advantage over Elon.
Against Marquette, Nysier Brooks dominated. However, limited looks turned into only seven shot attempts and 13 points. We can expect a big game from Brooks, Robert Allen, and Jaemyn Brakefield. One strategy the Rebels could use is to seal defenders off on screens by establishing a quick post-up. Take a quick look at this clip from the WVU game.
We can see that as Gabe Osabuohien (No. 3) sets the screen, he immediately posts up the smaller defender. There’s a split moment where Elon is lost as they try to switch back, but they couldn’t afford to leave a shooter such as Taz Sherman unguarded. This allows Gabe to continue to work the smaller defender deep into the paint for an eventual and-one opportunity.
Limit Offensive Penetration
Last night against Marquette, the Ole Miss defense was stingy in the first half. The added pressure forced Marquette into less than ideal shots late in the shot clock.
In the second half, Tyler Kolek got going and the Golden Eagle offense would begin to attack. This then freed up shooters on the outside (mainly Justin Lewis). Like Marquette, Elon’s offense has some similarities.
We’ve already mentioned how much Elon likes the three. They’re 23rd in the nation in three’s made. The Phoenix have many guards who can drive and kick. These include Torrence Watson, Hunter McIntosh, Darius Buford, and Hunter Woods. Ole Miss needs to channel that first half defense and stick to their stance and stay in front of attacking guards.
Try Not To Foul
It’s no secret that Ole Miss shooting 40% from the free throw line was a tough look. There could be any reason that it played out that way last night, and there are plenty of ways to work on them. However, the bigger problem is how Ole Miss gave up more free throws to Marquette. The Rebels shot 15 free throws to Marquette’s 19.
Ole Miss had over double the points in the paint than Marquette. The officiating could definitely be in question, but that’s another person’s job for another argument.
The bottom line is Ole Miss has to play physical but not give up unnecessary fouls. Last night they gave up easy points because of it, and in some perspective it cost them the game. Elon is a good free throw shooting team, knocking them down at a 78% clip.
Ole Miss and Elon tip off at 8:00 p.m. (CT) and the game will be streamed on ESPN3.
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.