Ole Miss Falls to Missouri in First Round of SEC Tourney, 60-72
TAMPA, Fla. –Heading into the SEC tournament, it was clear Ole Miss men’s basketball needed to run the table for any chance of postseason play.
As unlikely as winning it all might have been, Ole Miss still had plenty to gain from the Tampa experience. It was a chance to end things on a good note, allowing the Rebels to send off the seniors on a good note while also gaining some momentum for next year.
That wouldn’t be the case as the Rebels were ousted by Missouri, 72-60, Wednesday night.
In the first round of the SEC tournament, the Tigers gave Ole Miss trouble with physical play and efficient shooting. It was the third time this year that Cuonzo Martin’s team bested the Rebels.
“Give Missouri a lot of credit, they played well all three times against us,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis.
“I thought that we came out and our biggest lead was five with about maybe 5:30 to go in the first half, but then we’ve just been really challenged all year long with finishing halves and starting second halves, and that kind of reared its head up tonight. I thought we had some good spots of physical play, but in the end their team beat us by 12 on the boards, played physical in the paint, and tonight they just played really well and I thought they were extremely competitive in the second half.“
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis on the loss to Missouri
Ole Miss was able to keep it tied heading into halftime via some hot shooting of its own. The Rebels made 44% of their shots in the first. Jarkel Joiner took the reins for the Ole Miss offense in the first half as he scored ten to lead a balanced attack.
Missouri, however, shot an even higher 52% from the field and received a big contribution from Ronnie Degray III who had notched 14 at the half.
Rebels woes opening/closing halves continue
A common theme for Ole Miss’ struggles has been the inability to close or open halves. Tonight was no different as Missouri came out and won the first five minutes of the second half. An 11-0 run put the Tigers comfortably ahead — where they would remain for the rest of the game.
Ole Miss was outscored by Missouri in the second half, 40-28 as the Rebs shot 37% in the second half. Joiner, who was effective in the first half, struggled in the second, shooting 1-7.
“I missed layups and I missed wide-open jumpers…That’s it,” Jarkel said after the game.
By the numbers
Missouri shot 54% from the field for the contest. The Tigers found open looks regardless of what Ole Miss tried to throw at them defensively. Much of the Missouri offense runs through Kobe Brown, who was recently named to the All-SEC second team. Ole Miss found themselves in a position to have to double Brown, leaving the Rebels’ defense trying to recover as the ball would swing around.
The Rebels also struggled to get favorable matchups defensively on Brown — who scored a team-high 16 points for the Tigers to go along with his 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Prior to the game, many analysts made the claim about how both teams placed an emphasis on owning the paint. The Tigers are an aggressive rebounding team who likes to hit the glass, while Coach Davis wanted to get Nysier Brooks involved with a physical size advantage.
But Missouri took control of the paint and rebounding margins, besting the Rebels in both categories. Ole Miss was out-rebounded by 12 (37-25), while only scoring 34 points in the paint to Missouri’s 40.
“Just the physicality. We need to match their physicality. This game we changed the game plan as far as to switch one through four and one through five. They just got to the rim and made plays.”
Matthew Murrell on what made Missouri such a tough opponent
Ole Miss shot 41% on the contest. The Rebels were led by Matthew Murrell who finished with 16 and Joiner with 13. From outside, Ole Miss shot 4-14 (29%) for the contest. Joiner and Murrell were the only Rebels to play over 25 minutes in the game. Luis Rodriquez fouled out in the contest as part of the 13 fouls that Ole Miss gave up in the second half.
For the Rebels, this marks the first time since the 2005-06 season for the Rebels to win fewer than five conference games in a season. Ole Miss finishes the year with a 13-19 record and a 4-15 mark in SEC play. Injuries and illnesses derailed the team from the high expectations set at the beginning of the year.
“We knew that the season wasn’t planned to go this way, but we are all just making sure in the offseason we’re just working hard and coming back next year with a vengeance and ready to play and ready to shock the world.”
The Rebels lacked continuity throughout the year. The team never seemed to settle as they played 14 different starting lineups throughout the season. After the game, both players and coaches expressed their frustration with how the season turned out. Coach Davis, while frustrated, also remained confident about the future of the program.
It’s a big boy league, and I get it, but I’ve got a great AD. We’re going to work day and night to get this thing flipped next year, and they’ve given us every resource to be successful at Ole Miss, so it’s right on us. We’re going to go out and put together a roster that the Ole Miss fans can be proud of, and we’re going to be right here next year hopefully playing for seeding in the NCAA tournament and having a great chance to win.“
Coach Kermit Davis
(Feature image credit: Southeastern Conference)
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.