- Story by SportsTalk Mississippi Ole Miss Beat Reporter Brian Scott Rippee
Ole Miss suffered its worst defeat of the season and was yet again abysmal on the offensive end floor in a 57-47 road loss at Texas A&M to open SEC play.
The Rebels wasted a 26-point performance from Breein Tyree. The Aggies entered this game 185 in the NET, the worst mark in the SEC by 62 spots. The next worst entering the night is Vanderbilt at 123.
Here are four thoughts from a setback that will linger as a significant sore on the Rebels’ resume for the remainder of this season, though it likely will not end up mattering with the brand of basketball this team is currently playing.
- This isn’t news if you have been following this team over the course of the last month, but the Rebels are horrible in half-court offense. Their saving grace in this game was Tyree being unconscious from the perimeter in the first half. The senior guard scored 21, points went 4-6 from three-point range and single-handedly lugged Ole Miss to a 10-point lead. Three other players registered field goals in and no other player made multiple shots in the first 20 minutes of the game. Seriously, Tyree was 8-10 and none of the other eight players Kermit Davis played had more than one field goal. Ole Miss shot 7-33 in the second half and notched a 30 percent mark from the field for the game.
- Texas A&M, as bad as it is offensively, is a pretty decent defensive team. The Aggies rank 61st in the country in total defense. But this is a reoccurring issue for the Rebels and their struggles had more to do with themselves than anything else.
- The bottom line here is this: There are too many non-factors offensively on the court for Ole Miss at any given time. When Tyree was off the floor, the Rebels were completely hapless offensively. It had one stretch of game action that spanned over 12 minutes with one field goal from a player not named Tyree.
- Blake Hinson scored two points on 1-9 shooting and has not been in double figures since before Christmas. K.J. Buffen was scoreless in 32 minutes and snagged four rebounds. Devontae Shuler had two points in the first half and was a nonfactor until the final seven minutes when the Rebels had coughed up the lead and were playing catch up. Shuler finished with 12 on 5-18 shooting and played all 40 minutes. Toss in a bad game from Khadim Sy — who had strung together six consecutive games with double-digit points — and it made for a putrid offensive performance. Sy had three points and three boards in 24 minutes.
This team misses the toughness and rebounding Luis Rodriguez provided. He will be out for at least a couple more weeks as he rehabs a foot injury he suffered during warm-ups before the team’s first game in Brooklyn against Penn State. But Rodriguez isn’t solving the lack of shot-making this team suffers from. Shuler has to be more consistent. So do sophomores Buffen and Hinson, who, so far, have not made the lead Davis had hoped after encouraging freshmen campaigns. And the bench has to offer more than it currently does, which is next to nothing other than logging minutes.
3. Let’s take a look at the other end of the floor. The end at which the Rebels allowed 38 second-half points to the 347th rated offense out of 355 D1 teams. The Aggies are the worst three-point shooting team in college basketball. They went 3-7 in the second half, hammered Ole Miss on the glass (24-16 in the second half) and got to the line five more times. Ole Miss needed someone other than Tyree to make shots down the stretch. They got that late in the game from Shuler, but the team was unable to string together enough stops at the other end.
4. There is no way around it, this was a horrific loss to what might be the worst team in the SEC. Ole Miss is now 9-5 (0-1) with Arkansas up next on Saturday. Rodriguez isn’t returning any time soon. There are no reinforcements. This is the Rebels’ reality and they will have to try to remedy this with the pieces they currently have. Ole Miss must become a more efficient in half-court offense, and do so quickly. How it evolves on that end of the floor will determine whether they will right the ship or muddle around the bottom of what appears to be an average SEC.
“We know our problems and you have to have short memories,” Davis said to the Ole Miss radio network in the postgame. “We have to get confidence in our guys shooting.”