Ole Miss Set to Tip Off against Stanford in First Round of ESPN Events Invitational
This Thanksgiving offers Ole Miss fans plenty of action. The Egg Bowl is set to kick off at 6:00 p.m., and with all the publicity surrounding the football program it will be fun to watch. Before that, however, Ole Miss basketball will be playing in the first game of its multi-team event at 12:30 PM CT.
Ole Miss is one of eight teams competing in the ESPN Events Invitational. The competition tips off Thanksgiving and is set to conclude on Sunday. Other teams competing in the event are: Florida State, Siena, Stanford, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Memphis and Seton Hall.
Games are taking place at the State Farm Field House at the ESPN sports complex that is paired with Disney.
Last season Ole Miss competed in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic in Charleston SC. The Rebels competed in games last season against Marquette, Elon and Boise State.
This year, Ole Miss (4-0) will kick off the tournament with a contest against Stanford (2-2). Both Stanford and Ole Miss are looking to improve on last year’s record and potentially find their way back into postseason play.
As part of the excitement for this event, we at The Rebel Walk are giving you a new style of coverage giving an analytical look at each team and how Ole Miss fares in a matchup with each team.
The Rebels come into the contest after recently beating UT-Martin in Oxford last Friday, 72-68. On top of that win, Ole Miss has also beaten UT-Chattanooga, Florida Atlantic, and Alcorn State. The Cardinal have had an up-and-down season, starting 2-2, with the most recent win coming over Cal Poly.
Stanford also has a win over Pacific. Jerod Haase’s team has lost to Wisconsin and San Diego State.
Ole Miss will play the winner/loser of the Florida State/Siena matchup happening beforehand at 10:00 AM CT.
An Important Start for Ole Miss
The matchup between Ole Miss and Stanford should be a good one. Both teams are looking for their first quality win. This can help both teams establish their resume early on.
Both Stanford (60) and Ole Miss (51) find themselves in the Top-60 of the KenPom rankings. Stanford was predicted to finish in the upper-middle part of the PAC-12, while Kermit Davis’ team finds itself anywhere from 6-9th in preseason SEC rankings.
Last year, the Rebels missed out on two quality resume games from the Shriners classic. Both Boise State and Marquette found themselves in the tournament last year. This year with a new look roster, Ole Miss looks to improve on its season from a year ago. Whoever wins this contest could be getting a jumpstart to their season.
A Look at Stanford
11/7 – vs Pacific (W: 88-78)
11/11 – @Wisconsin (L: 60-50)
11/15 – vs SDSU (L: 74-62)
11/18 – vs Cal Poly (W: 80-43)
The start to the Stanford season has been as one may have expected — winning their two buy games as expected but losing two contests against Wisconsin and SDSU. A team that brought back some talent from last year, Stanford would’ve loved to win one of those games to help them take that proverbial next step.
Through four games thus far, Stanford is scoring 70.0 points per game. Their leading scorers for the season so far are Michael Jones (13.8 PPG), Spencer Jones (11.0 PPG), and Maxime Raynaud (10.5 PPG). One can’t forget about Harrison Ingram either who was a top player in the class of 2021.
What Ole Miss Needs To Do To Stop Stanford
Thanks to Synergy Sports Technology, we are doing a deeper dive into Stanford to figure out where the Cardinal has excelled so far this season. With this information we can better explain how Ole Miss can best the Cardinal.
This contest will come down to a couple of keys that can be broken down a bit further. The first is how well Ole Miss’ defense can continue to play? The other is will Ole Miss be able to get out and push the tempo?
Pushing the Pace
Stanford is largely a half-court team. They average 63.5 possessions per game. Seventy-one percent of those result in a field goal attempt in the half-court after slowing things down. When the Cardinal slows down its offense, it is at its best, ranking in the 58th percentile in points per possession while in that setting.
One weakness for Stanford is their play in transition. They do look to push but their finishing ability has struggled so far this season. Jerod Haase’s group averages 10.5 possessions per game in transition and only averages 0.905 points per possession playing fast.
One way Ole Miss can play into that weakness is to get Myles Burns in the game and active. When Burns is in the contest, it normally means Ole Miss is going to look to apply pressure.
Twenty-two percent of the defensive possessions Ole Miss has with Burns on the court turn into transition offense. That figure is significantly higher than any other member on Ole Miss’ team.
Getting Stanford out of its comfort zone
The leading scorer so far is Micheal Jones. While he doesn’t take the most shots, Jones is by far the most efficient Stanford member to date. With a team-high 13.8 PPG, Jones is also shooting 50% from the field and 37.5% from deep.
Synergy’s analytics tell us that, so far, Jones is in the 90th percentile in all of college basketball with 1.290 points per possession. Of all his attempts, 31% are catch-and-shoot jumpers, while most are his ability to try and attack the rim. When he does attack, he’s among the best in college basketball — ranking in the 96th percentile finishing around the rim with layups.
Another big name who is largely involved is Maxime Raynaud. The Cardinal big man largely works as a pick man in the Cardinal offense. Twenty-two percent of the Stanford possessions have him either rolling to the rim or popping out for a catch-and-shoot opportunity.
When Raynaud does roll, the Cardinal has found success scoring 1.600 points per possession. This is in the 97th percentile. Occasionally, Raynaud will also post-up where he is also fairly efficient.
Lastly, one may want to watch Spencer Jones. He averages the most shots on the team and is also the most diverse player for the Cardinals. He can get looks off a variety of different play styles. On the year, he has struggled early on with a 37% effective field goal percentage but can go off at any point.
Using this information Ole Miss can do one thing that can largely make Stanford uncomfortable. That is taking away the paint and cleaning up the glass which are conveniently two things at which Ole Miss already excels.
It will be a big matchup for Ole Miss. The Cardinal shoot 72.2% at the rim, an elite level so far. Ole Miss will need physical play from Jaemyn Brakefield, Robert Allen, Theo Akwuba, and Jayveous McKinnis.
On defense, Ole Miss is one of the best at holding the paint. The Rebels force teams to shoot a lowly 46.9% at the rim. If Ole Miss can go ahead and continue its style of play, forcing Stanford to look for other ways to get points, the Rebs could be off to a great start in this tournament.
Get Ole Miss Players Shots
For Ole Miss to succeed offensively, the Rebels need to find ways to continue to get quality shots. Depending on whether or not Ruffin returns from injury, Ole Miss may have to lean heavy into its rotation for more on-ball play. Ideally, Ole Miss will look to have Matthew Murrell play off-ball where he is more effective.
Murrell has been one of the top scorers in the SEC averaging 17.8 points per game. Two areas where Murrell particularly has thrived is off of spot ups and on “off-screen” movement. The junior guard is in the 92nd percentile of all NCAA players on spot-up jumpers while ranking in the 79th percentile for off-screen jumpers.
As we dive deeper into the analytics, we want to note the play of Amaree Abram. The freshman guard has shown a really strong perimeter game and has an effective field goal percentage of 62.5%. From deep, he is shooting 41.7% from three, which places him in the 75th percentile.
If you’re wondering what an effective field goal percentage is, it calculates the value of each shot when creating a percentage for the current impact of a three versus a two. A player who takes mostly two-point jumpers wouldn’t have much variance to a player who takes a more mixed balance of shots.
The matchup for both teams proves to be an intriguing one as both teams look for that first signature win. As always, we will have all the coverage and look forward to keeping you up to date with all the latest Ole Miss basketball news.
(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.