Ole Miss Falls Short to Samford, 75-73
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss hosted Samford Tuesday afternoon in the Sandy and John Black Pavilion in the Rebels’ final non-conference game before SEC play.
Samford would be the team to ride out victorious. The 75-73 loss is the first home defeat for Ole Miss. The Bulldogs rode a hot-shooting performance to steal a buy game from Ole Miss.
There was some drama towards the end of the game as the Rebels had a chance to tie and potentially win it at the end. Jaemyn Brakefield would make a shot as time expired to tie the game. However, after a booth review, the shot would be called off and the Bulldog bench celebrated.
Offense was on display for Samford as the Bulldogs shot 51% from the field for the game and 46% from deep. Ques Glover (a Florida transfer) led the way with a game-high 21 points. The Bulldogs jumped out in the second half with a 20-4 run that would propel the momentum their way, and Ole Miss would be working from behind for most of the second half.
The Rebels wouldn’t go away quietly as a 13-2 run late in the second would tie the game. We would see Ole Miss battle back, eventually leading to the Brakefield call-off.
Ole Miss shot 41% from the field for the game and was led by freshman Daeshun Ruffin who notched 17 points on 6-18 shooting. Three other Rebels would score in double figures as Joiner added 15, Rodriquez tallied 13 and Brakefield scored 11.
Four Bonus Points
What exactly happened in this one and what can we take away from it? Let’s take a quick look at four points that stand out from the loss against Samford.
Ole Miss needs to figure out how to score on the interior
Nysier Brooks was 3-for-3 in the game but was rarely targeted inside. Former Rebel Romello White was very good at using his body to seal defenders but Nysier is struggling to get looks, and the Rebels may need to scheme his way into some posts ups. Ole Miss finished with 26 points in the paint against Samford. That isn’t a terrible number, but when you score 73 it is a number you would hope be a little higher. The zone gave Ole Miss fits, but we didn’t see much attacking outside of Ruffin.
When Daeshun Ruffin suffered a broken hand against New Orleans in the first game of the season, some wondered how he would adjust upon his return. Missing most of the non-conference schedule could certainly make it difficult.
But that hasn’t been the case for Daeshun.
He has a swagger about him and possesses confidence every time he has the ball. It is obvious that Ruffin brings an element to the Rebels’ offense that is needed. Ruffin’s scoring ability was on display against Samford as he was 6-for-18 from the field and electric with the ball in his hands.
Daeshun’s burst, handle, bounce and high-level finishing have shown flashes of stardom already. His hand injury has him mostly shooting in the mid-range, but once he gets healthy watch out.
Samford found a way to slow down the Ole Miss offense with its defense. The Rebels got some open looks out of it but struggled from behind the three point line. The team shot 29% from three in the game on 28 attempts. Having the shots not fall is one thing, but missing open looks consistently can become a bad problem to have.
After tonight’s game, Ole Miss’ season three-point shooting percentage falls to 30.4% from deep. The top shooter is Jaemyn Brakefield who now has a 40% shooting clip from outside. Austin Crowley, who was second on the team percentage-wise, played only four minutes tonight and didn’t attempt a shot.
The Rebels need someone to be a consistent three-point threat alongside Joiner. The best bets are Ruffin (once healthy), Murrell, and Rodriquez. The last two have been in a slump to start the season but have shown flashes. Teams are willing to over-help down low to take away the paint when the Rebels struggle to shoot. To get a more balanced attack, Ole Miss has to show the ability to score outside.
The Rebels have fight in them
Let’s call it what it is. Most teams don’t shoot over 50% and lose. When an upset happens this is the recipe for it: The underdog comes in and shoots lights out and stuns the home team with a lead. This is a bad loss, and a lot of teams have them…Samford has already won a road game against Oregon State. The Rebels’ NET ranking will drop, and this is going to be a Q3 or likely Q4 blemish on the resume.
Ole Miss will face an uphill battle in SEC play.
But one thing that I did notice tonight is the Rebels didn’t go down. It can be morally frustrating when opposing teams make shot after shot — and trying to chip away at a lead becomes tougher and tougher.
When we hit the ten-minute mark and Ole Miss hadn’t made progress, things became tougher. Right when I thought it was over, the Rebels came back. They stepped up the intensity and began to lock down the defense. Samford didn’t make a field goal in the final 3:08 of the game. It’s a flash. It shows that Ole Miss doesn’t give up and that the Rebels will continue to fight.
The Rebels get a week off before taking the court against Florida next Wednesday.