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Scouting the Opposition: Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Returns Home to Face Struggling Missouri Tigers

Scouting the Opposition: Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Returns Home to Face Struggling Missouri Tigers

OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss Rebels (18-6, 5-6 SEC) look to get back to their winning ways Saturday night as they welcome the Missouri Tigers (8-16, 0-11) into the SJB Pavilion.

The Rebels enter this game coming off three straight losses against quality and ranked opponents. Head coach Chris Beard’s team is looking for a get-right game against Mizzou to put the Rebels back on track after a tough start to February. We’ve got all the information you need to know about the Missouri Tigers, and how Ole Miss can win this game.

It’s no secret the Rebels have not had the February they have hoped for. With three straight losses at the hands of Auburn, South Carolina, and Kentucky, the Rebs are currently under .500 in the SEC. However, Ole Miss is still in the NCAA Tournament conversation AND the Rebs have a much easier schedule to look forward to. 

According to ESPN’s bracket guru Joe Lunardi, the Rebels are slotted as an 11 seed and one of the four teams in the “Last Four In” category.  Ole Miss has a real chance to boost its tournament resume in the coming weeks with a couple of winnable Q1 and Q2 games to finish out the season. But before we jump ahead, Ole Miss cannot overlook Mizzou on Saturday. 

The Tigers enter Oxford at the bottom of the SEC. Mizzou is currently winless in conference play, carrying an 11-game losing streak. In their most recent action, Dennis Gates’s unit lost to Mississippi St. in Columbia last weekend and are aiming to get their first SEC win this season. 

Ole Miss has the ultimate get-right game against a struggling Missouri Tiger team, and I want to be the first to welcome you to another edition of “Scouting the Opposition,” The Missouri Tigers Edition.

Who are the Missouri Tigers?

Heading into year two in Columbia, head coach Dennis Gates was looking to continue the success he had in the first season at the helm of the Missouri Tigers. Last year, the Tigers finished with a 25-10 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. It was a really good first season under Gates; however, 2023-24 has not turned out the way many expected. The Tigers were predicted to finish above the Rebels in the SEC preseason poll but are currently winless in conference and sit at the very bottom of the SEC. 

Now, this is not Gates’ fault. The Tigers have been riddled with injuries all season, which includes an injury to their best player, Sean East. East is in the Top 10 in scoring and assists in the SEC  as well as in the Top 5 in FG% and 3-pt Fg% in the conference. Gates said East was uncertain to play Saturday night in Oxford as he has missed the past two games with a knee contusion. 

Missouri has taken a long-term approach to roster construction, focusing more on the high school ranks. Dennis Gates is one of two current SEC coaches to go above the .500 mark in conference play in their first season (Calipari).

Even with East, the Tigers have really struggled all season long. They are ranked 153 in the NET Ranking and carry losing records in all of the quads except for Q4. Below is a breakdown of Missouri’s quad wins/losses:

Q1: 1-6

Q2: 1-5

Q3: 1-4

Q4: 4-1

The Tigers have lost to some high quality teams out of conference such as Kansas, Illinois, Seton Hall, and Memphis. On the other hand, Missouri has also had some tougher losses on their resume to teams like Jackson St, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas. Their best wins of the season came in the non-conference to Power-6 Schools, Pittsburgh and Minnesota. Missouri is winless in the SEC this year; however, the Tigers have played very close games against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

For Ole Miss, this is a must-win game. As it stands, the Saturday night contest against Missouri is a Q3 game. If the Rebels win, yes it will help their resume a little bit come March; however, if they lose, this presents a difficult game for the committee to not overlook. With that said, let’s jump into the Tigers’ scouting report!

Scouting the Tigers

The Missouri Tigers are led by junior guard Tamar Bates. Bates, an Indiana transfer, has averaged 14.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game this season. For most of the season, he has been the number two scoring option behind the injured Sean East. However during East’s absence, Bates has been playing some of the best basketball of his career. In his first 14 games with the Tigers, Bates had averaged only 7 ppg, but in his last 13, Bates scoring has skyrocketed to over 20 ppg. He is a crafty point guard who is quick with the basketball and can get downhill in a hurry. He scores a large majority of his points in the paint and can also knock down a three when he has to. 

Bates is one of the more efficient shooters in the SEC and currently shoots 53% from the field, which places him in the 96th percentile among active players. That figure also makes him the 4th-most efficient shooter in the conference. He also ranked in the top 10 in the SEC for 3-point FG% at 42%. In addition to being so effective shooting-wise, Tamar Bates has the highest usage rate on the Tigers with a staggering 30% over his last 5 games. This puts him into the 96th percentile among all players across the nation.

There is no doubt that Bates is the best scorer, most efficient player, and most-used player on Gates’ squad; however, the rest of the team does not fit that mold. Offensively, the Tigers are ranked 12th in the conference in offensive net rating.  They play at one of the slower paces in the conference and are currently ranked 2nd-to-last in the conference in scoring. Gates’ squad only averages 72 ppg. They have a very stagnant offense without Bates on the floor. There is not much movement off the ball which forces their main ball handlers to become iso basketball players, which is a recipe for disaster since the Tigers do not have the right guys for that kind of offense. 

One of the reasons why Mizzou ranks so low offensively is because of their poor shooting percentages. The Tigers rank near the bottom of the conference in field goals attempted as well as field goal percentage. Missouri ranks 10th in both of those categories as well as 11th in 2-pt attempts in the SEC. Gates’ team does, however, take more attempts from behind the 3-point line which is good for 6th in the SEC in attempts — but 10th in percentage. Outside of Bates’ contributions from three, Nick Honor is another player to watch on Saturday. He is the Tigers’ most potent 3-point scorer. He is ranked 6th in the SEC in 3-pointers made. He has also been extremely effective from three in his last 5 games where he shot 45% from three. Outside of Bates and Honor, the Tigers do not really have any other effective three point shooters. 

In addition to their lack of scoring, Bates, Honor, and Noah Carter, the team’s third best scoring option who averages 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, are the main contributors to the Tigers offense, and are the only players that average or are even close to averaging double figures. These three players make up the majority of the Tigers’ scoring because Missouri is the second-to-worst team in the conference in bench scoring. The bench only averages 11.5 ppg in conference play which is good for last in the SEC and 330th nationally. 

Outside of scoring Noah Carter, the senior forward, is the team’s best rebounding option. With his 5.2 rebounds per game, he leads the team in this category. Despite leading the team in that category, the Tigers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the entire country. In both the offensive and defensive categories, Mizzou ranks last or next-to-last in both offensive and defensive rebounding. The Tigers are currently 327 nationally in defensive rebounding. To go along with their poor defensive rebounding, Mizzou gives their opponents an abundance of second-chance scoring opportunities. The Tigers rank 350th in both second-chance points given up and percentage of second chance points given up. This bodes really well for Ole Miss as the Rebels have played well against poor rebounding teams thus far. 

As one of the lankier/taller teams in the SEC, it is quite shocking Mizzou has had such a poor season rebounding the basketball. The Tigers are quite good at blocking shots and stealing the ball. Keep an eye out for Aiden Shaw who used to start at the beginning of the season and is in the top 10 in the SEC for blocks shots and Anthony Robinson who leads the team in steals. 

As mentioned earlier, the Tigers play at a very slow pace and do not have a lot of flare on offense. They have really struggled at scoring in the second half of many of their losses. Most recently, they have given up 40+ in the second half of each of their last three losses. This poor scoring form in the second half is due to the inability to get to the line and turnovers. The Tigers rank last in the SEC in free throw attempts. Outside of Bates, they do not have a dynamic scorer who can get to the rim and draw fouls. This type of player would especially be helpful in late-game scenarios when the Tigers need to just get a bucket. Also, turnovers have been a big issue for Mizzou. The Tigers turn the ball over around 12 times per game; however, against State, Bates and Honor combined for 10 turnovers which led to the Tigers’ season high of 20 turnovers. Ole Miss is hoping this trend continues on Saturday.

Similar to Mizzou’s offense, the Tigers’ defense is not much better when it comes to ratings. The Tigers rank 13th in defensive ratings and often find themselves in a whole lot of foul trouble. Gates’ squad is currently ranked second-to-last in the SEC in personal fouls, averaging 20 per game. One of the main culprits of the Tigers’ fouling struggles is freshman center Jordan Butler. Butler was ranked as a ESPN Top 100 prospect when he came to Columbia. He is a 7-footer who can move with anyone on the court and can score down low and in transition. He is a very fun player to watch when he is on the court. But he has really struggled to stay on the court as of late because he has fouled out or has come perilously close to fouling out in three of Mizzou’s last five games. It will be key for Ole Miss to draw fouls and get to the line against a foul-heavy Tiger team. 

Despite the foul trouble, Mizzou does not give up many looks. They rank in the upper echelon of the SEC in allowing field goal attempts. This is because the Tigers like to dictate the opposing team’s pace on defense by not allowing teams to run in transition. Slowing down fast break attempts has been a strength of the Tigers all season long. Because of the slower play of the opposition, the Tigers have really limited their opponents’ shot attempts. However, opposing teams are shooting very well on those shot attempts. The Tigers allow other teams to shoot over 50% from two and over 34% from three. These are not winnable numbers, folks. 

Gates’ squad likes to play a version of match-up zone defense. Because of the lankiness of the Tigers, they have the ability to excel with this type of defense. Two players to watch out for in the Tiger’s defensive zone are Conor Vanover and Jesus Carralero. Vanover is a 7-foot-5 center who ties Jamarion Sharp as the tallest player in college hoops. He will be such a fun matchup to watch as he goes up against Cisse and Sharpe down on the low block. They especially love to play their version of match-up zone with Vanover on the court because they want to force the opponents to shoot over Conor which is extremely difficult to do. 

Jesus Carralero is another lengthy big who plays well on the defensive end of the court. The 6-foot-8 transfer from Campbell has recently returned to the lineup in the Tigers’ latest game against State. Before his injury, he had played big minutes for the Tigers. He is not the stat-sheet stuffer as Bates or Honor are; however, Carralero is a nice player who can give the Rebels fits when he is fully healthy. 

All in all, I think the Rebels will match up very well against the Missouri Tigers. The Rebels will look to continue to drive the basketball with Flanigan and Murrell to put the Tigers in foul trouble. They will also look to get JuJu Murrary back on track by exploiting Mizzou’s poor perimeter defense. 

The Rebels will hopefully find their footing in front of a great crowd Saturday night!

Game Info

Make sure to catch the Ole Miss Rebels taking on the Missouri Tigers tonight at 7:30 CST. The game will air on the SEC Network.

Coleman Young

Coleman Young

Coleman Young is a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss. Born and raised in Baltimore, Coleman has always been an avid basketball fan, growing up watching the Maryland Terrapins. His love for college hoops grew even more when he attended Ole Miss in 2017. Coleman is a huge fan of all Ole Miss sports as well as the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles. He was previously an Ole Miss College Hoops contributor at

About The Author

Coleman Young

Coleman Young is a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss. Born and raised in Baltimore, Coleman has always been an avid basketball fan, growing up watching the Maryland Terrapins. His love for college hoops grew even more when he attended Ole Miss in 2017. Coleman is a huge fan of all Ole Miss sports as well as the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles. He was previously an Ole Miss College Hoops contributor at

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