The Ole Miss Rebels dropped their SEC opener to #8 Kentucky last Thursday by the final score of 99-76, so the road to their first SEC victory goes through Gainesville. The Rebels will take on the Florida Gators tonight in hopes of putting Thursday’s loss behind them, but without adjustments to the sloppy performance against Kentucky, the Rebels will be in for another tough night.
After a few minutes of competitive basketball, the Wildcats were able to build a substantial lead that the Rebels couldn’t recover from. Shot quality was poor, and when the Rebels had open shots, they weren’t able to hit them. Shooting 37 percent from the floor against any team isn’t a recipe for success, especially against the #8 team in the country. Trying to shoot their way back into the game with 3’s didn’t work either as the Rebels went just 6-22 from beyond the arc. After the loss, head coach Andy Kennedy talked about the effort put forth by his team.
“The tone of the game was set by their speed in the open floor. They were just running by us in transition, and then, we just lost composure. Maybe the game was too big. Maybe we had some guys who were just not ready for a game like this. Every team has a formula for success. Kentucky has one. We have one. We didn’t follow our formula very well, and as a result, we dug an early hole and started playing desperate basketball. That’s too good of a team to play desperate against.”
Sebastion Siaz led the Rebels in scoring and rebounds as he notched his fourth consecutive double-double, but shooting seven 3’s, including several early on, shouldn’t be a focal point of the Rebel offense tonight. Deandre Burnett added 19 and Rasheed Brooks turned in 15 for the Rebels, but to beat Florida, more Rebels must contribute to the flow of the offense. Cullen Neal wasn’t able to get going and didn’t score a point in the loss. The Rebels turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 21 Wildcat points. Efficiency and ball security will continue to be the Rebels Achilles heal if they don’t make adjustments before tonight’s game.
On the defensive end, the Rebels were unable to slow down Kentucky’s fast paced style, and as a result, the Wildcats were able to score 60 points in the first half. The Rebels held the Wildcats to 39 points in the second half, but that was in large part because they chose to slow the tempo down after building a substantial lead. If the Rebels can’t get the Gators out of their comfort zone, it may spell trouble once again for the Red and Blue.
The #24 ranked Gators come into the game with a 10-3 record. The Gators aren’t an offensive juggernaut, averaging just 79.2 PPG. After facing the high-scoring Wildcats, the Rebels may be better equipped to stop the Gators. The Rebels hold statical advantages in blocks per game, assists per game, 3-point percentage, and overall scoring offense. The Gators are coached by Mike White in his second season replacing Billy Donavan.
Tip-off from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville is set for 6 p.m. The matchup will be televised on ESPNU and broadcasted on the Ole Miss Radio Network.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.