Notes and thoughts from a 91-88 win over Missouri …
In what currently stands as a resume-building win for Ole Miss there are several players I would tab MVP on the day before I got to Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones.
That’s not the way Missouri coach Frank Haith saw it, however. Without hesitation Haith went immediately to the Ole Miss bigs.
He called them physical, much more physical than the Missouri bigs. I’ve not considered the Ole Miss frontcourt very physical this year.
Physicality and effort are different things. The effort has been there. But if you’re not strong enough to hold a rebound once you grab it, you’re not as physical as the other guy.
That’s sometimes been the case with the Ole Miss bigs. I suspect for Jones that’s part coming back from the injury and and part just the makeup of the player. Jones helps the team by getting his hands on balls and tipping them to teammates. He did that some yesterday.
Physicality from a frontcourt player is catching the ball in the post and going up strong over or through your opponent to score. You don’t win that one-on-one battle all the time, but you get to the free throw line a lot, and Saiz and Jones just don’t get to the line typically as much as the Ole Miss guards.
Physicality is also crashing the boards, and that’s what Saiz was doing a lot of yesterday, his hair waving through the lane as Marshall Henderson saw it.
For Ole Miss to make a real run at an NCAA bid it’s going to have to have better play on the glass. Yesterday was a good start in that direction. It was the first time Saiz and Jones have had double-figure rebounds in the same game.
The Rebels were not competitive on the glass with Tennessee and Kentucky, the two best rebounding teams in the conference. Ole Miss was a combined minus-33 in those games.
They were plus-1 against Missouri, and Missouri is a pretty good rebounding team, third in the league behind Kentucky and Tennessee.
Saiz and Jones had the added benefit of playing at home. They’ll need to duplicate their efforts on the road this week at Alabama and at Georgia.
Before we leave the bigs, it was interesting to note that freshman Dwight Coleby played only five minutes. Physicality is a big part of his game, but he needs to learn to foul less to really help this team. He had a foul, a turnover and a blocked shot in his five minutes. The turnover really was a difficult one, a pass he wasn’t prepared for when Henderson kind of rushed it to him at the last minute when Henderson was off balance and losing control on a baseline drive.
Defensively the Rebels paid a lot of attention to Missouri guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson, and rightfully so. That left Earnest Ross so open at times it looked like Ross was playing Horse, and he was knocking down shots in the first half.
Ultimately, all three players finished with at least 20 points, led by Ross’ 24. Clarkson had 23 and Brown 20.
Other MVP candidates yesterday included a roundup of the regulars: Marshall Henderson, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White.
White really is the wild card here. He’s physically gifted and every now and then he puts together a big game. Against Missouri he scored 16 points on only six shots. He had a couple of 3-pointers that kind of got forgotten in the first half, because it seemed like every shot the Rebels put up hit home. He finished the day 5-for-6 from the floor, 4-for-5 from 3. He also had six assists with no turnovers, a steal and a blocked shot.
Henderson was 10-for-18 from the floor, 8-for-15 from 3. His 3-point percentage was his second-best of the season. He was 7-for-13 (53.8) at Western Kentucky and 53.3 against Mizzou. He also had five assists.
Summers was 5-for-12 from the floor and finished with 16 points. Two of his field goals came in the last 2:20, half of his total points came with less than 5 minutes to play. He’s clutch.
Henderson couldn’t help himself and looked ahead a little bit to the Florida and Kentucky games coming up in Oxford next week.
Just how big those games are for Ole Miss depends in large part on what the Rebels get done this week, and what the Rebels get done this week will depend in large part on the continued improvement of Frank Haith’s Ole Miss MVPs.
Henderson’s eight made 3-point shots marked the third time this season he’s made at least eight in a game.
He was 8-for-19 at Tennessee and 10-for-23 at home against Oregon, both losses.
By going 8-for-15 he shot 53.3 percent, his best percentage game in conference play and second-best for the season. He was 7-for-13 at Western Kentucky.
Henderson has shot better than 33.3 percent three times in the eight SEC games in which he’s played.