Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 87-83 win over Alabama …
If you were trying to use the game as a referendum on support for Andy Kennedy/Ole Miss basketball I’m not sure it made a definitive statement.
Attendance was listed at 5,913. It was not a big crowd, but fairly active. Crowds were bigger when the team was winning more often earlier in conference play, but there were lots of reasons to stay home and watch on TV last night not the least of which being the 8 p.m., start.
Attendance and atmosphere were factors cited each time when Ross Bjork fired basketball coaches at Western Kentucky during and following the 2011-2012 season.
An interesting note here from Ron Higgins if you’re trying to determine important factors in Bjork’s looming evaluation: Kennedy’s contract was restructured last year to add more incentives based on winning in the SEC. Prior to last night Kennedy had already won his most SEC games with a 10-6 mark over 16 games – what has been a complete SEC regular season until this year. Now he’s 11-6.
Kennedy gets $100,000 for winning more than 10 SEC games and another $25,000 for every win over the 10th win.
It’s been noted once or twice that the SEC isn’t that strong this season.
As for the Alabama game, Ole Miss won by being very efficient on offense and by eventually knocking down free throws. After a terrible start at the line, Jarvis Summers hit big ones at the end and finished 10-for-14 with his free throws.
Ole Miss shot 55.1 percent from the floor and 63.2 percent (12-for-19) in the second half.
That shooting allowed the Rebels to overcome a terrible night on the glass where Alabama was plus-16 with a 41-25 rebounding edge.
I don’t know that Marshall Henderson as a starter or a reserve has any effect on how he plays. Maybe it did that first time against Auburn when he said it relaxed him some.
Henderson started last night. He didn’t take a lot of wild shots last night and finished with 24 points on 6-for-13 shooting, 3-for-7 behind the arc.
Jarvis Summers was aggressive with the ball in his hands in the loss at Mississippi State but wasn’t able to finish at the rim. That was different at home against Alabama. He only attempted four shots but hit two of them. Most of his free throws came when he was fouled away from the basket especially during Alabama’s frantic comeback.
You can write off some of Alabama’s late success as what happens at the end of games when things get a little wild, but ultimately the last two minutes are still part of the game. You’ve got to get a hand in front of those shots and stop a few of them.
Great minutes off the bench from LaDarius White and Derrick Millinghaus.
Alabama had trouble guarding White off the dribble, and Millinghaus was 3-for-4 from the arc.
It’s hard to praise the defensive effort when the Rebels were down 16 on the glass, but they were much better in man and played far less zone than they have much of the season.
Defense against point guard Trevor Releford, most of it from Summers, was very good in the first half when Ole Miss set the tone, and Releford is Alabama’s catalyst.
There were hands in the passing lanes, and that led to 17 turnovers for Alabama, which Tide coach Anthony Grant said was the difference in the game. Ole Miss scored 22 points directly off turnovers.
Alabama, though, had a whopping 17 offensive rebounds and 22 second-chance points.
It’s going to be hard to live with those numbers at LSU Saturday where recent play suggests the Rebels won’t be as efficient offensively.
Several of those offensive rebounds came when Ole Miss was challenging someone else defensively, and one Alabama player was left alone.
Bottom line is the Rebels were better in man, and I would suspect to see more of that at LSU where Ole Miss will again need multiple contributions and will be unable to rely on Henderson to shoot it to victory.