Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 64-49 win over No. 10 Missouri …
It’s way too early to consider this team any kind of NCAA tournament lock, but there’s also a buzz building about this group after the first week of SEC play.
Ole Miss fans have seen their team come close to the NCAA tournament and fall short too many painful times of late.
That happens when teams don’t take advantage of opportunities, and the Rebels took advantage of two big opportunities this week.
Video: Jarvis Summers talks about Murphy Holloway and Derrick Millinghaus
Even though it was the first week of SEC play it was a a big for resume building with a road game against a Tennessee team that has played a quality schedule and a home game against the nation’s No. 10 team, one of the favorites to win the SEC.
Recent Ole Miss teams have come up short in such key opportunity games. They’ll have to win more of them this season – and not stub their toes against lower RPI teams – to get where they want to go, but against Tennessee and Missouri it’s looked like a very focused Ole Miss team.
That was much different than the Rebels looked at the end of February last year at home against Vanderbilt.
Video: Missouri coach Frank Haith
Ole Miss is playing with confidence and consistency right now and has the parts and pieces on the roster for someone to cover for someone else who is having an off night.
Marshall Henderson is just 5-for-20 from 3-point range over the last two games. Against Missouri, however, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy noted the importance of Henderson’s presence on the floor just to provide spacing for Murphy Holloway and other post players.
Obviously Henderson is going to do much more than that, but Missouri gave him a lot of respect after his 32-point performance at Tennessee. Holloway was able to beat his man one on one – going to his left as he so often does – more times than not and finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, just two rebounds shy of his ninth double-double.
I don’t know if it’s right to say there’s a point guard competition right now, because Jarvis Summers and Derrick Millinghaus are both making big plays. Millinghaus is coming along and playing with more confidence now, playing under control more. Kennedy called him the MVP of the first half for his eight points, two big 3-pointers, with Henderson on the bench in foul trouble.
Summers still keeps the game under control, protects the ball, gets to the free throw line and converts. Those two were often in the game at the same time Saturday night.
The move of LaDarius White into the starting lineup was meant to get more scoring from the bench with Nick Williams in a sixth man role.
It’s worked that way to some degree. Williams has had 11, seven and five points in his three games off the bench, and against Missouri he hit a big 3-pointer when Henderson was out to help keep the Tigers at arm’s length.
But the move hasn’t done anything to spur more scoring from LaDarius White in the starting lineup. The Rebels need more from White.
It was a great start to SEC play, and Ole Miss is 2-0 in the league for the first time in seven years.
The Rebels need to bottle up that momentum and take it to Vanderbilt. The Commodores are struggling right now, but Memorial Gym is always a tough place to play.