What did we learn?
This is an athletic team with several of the newcomers making it a quicker team. That doesn’t mean they’re going to unseat the veterans for playing time right away.
One of them will. Marshall Henderson looked very much at home, and that’s what the Rebels need. They don’t need him to acclimate slowly. Henderson hit his first shot, a 3, then missed eight of his next nine. He’s going to shoot, and he’s going to be streaky. He’s going to be good. He finished with a game-high 19 points and was 5-for-12 from 3.
There was good defense from this team, partly because they will play good defense this year, partly because Montevallo had a handful of starters who were 3 feet tall. Seriously, most of Montevallo’s players ranged from 5-11 to 6-2. It was hard for the Falcons to get off decent shots until the game got ragged, and it did get ragged, because Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy played a lot of people.
A lot of guys were trying to impress with not a lot of minutes.
That being said, there was good effort if not always good rhythm. Too many turnovers, and it wasn’t always the new guys committing them. The Rebels were at times dominant, and at times allowed the hustling Falcons to get things done in the paint. Fifteen turnovers for Ole Miss while forcing just 10.
Anthony Perez played off the bench and showed a quick release from 3-point range. You can see the skill. You can also see that contact affects him, at least it did a couple of times tonight.
Martavious Newby and Terry Brutus also got in the game. Derrick Millinghuas, expected to play a key role at point guard, did not, sitting out with an academic issue. We also did not see junior college transfer Jason Carter, who Kennedy has described as a legitimate 3-point shooter at 6-foot-8, a matchup problem he’s not had here before. Carter was suspended for a team rules violation. It’s not clear when his status will change.
Among the returning players, LaDarius White looked good, showing the balance and penetration skills he did last year. Jones had an average night.
This is the time, of course, where a lot of guys will play. Eventually, a playing rotation will evolve, and Henderson will be a starter. He needs to be. He makes this team different than it was a year ago, relevant from the 3-point line. Eventually, that will make his teammates better too.
Lots of people playing for Ole Miss, so not a lot of cohesion on offense. Reggie Buckner did not start, sitting out in favor of Aaron Jones, but Buckner played 15 minutes in the half, as many as Murphy Holloway, those the most minutes of Ole Miss players.
Holloway has 10 points, most of them in Holloway fashion, though he did hit a 3. He has five rebounds.
Marshall Henderson started the game and from the get-go it was clear that he’s comfortable shooting, and his teammates are comfortable looking for him. He hit his first shot, a 3, and has finished the half 2-for-9. He’s got five points, the other bucket coming on an impressive drop-step just inside the 3-point line. He’s looked good driving the baseline and kicking out to open teammates. Highly skilled.
Nick Williams, Jarvis Summers joined Holloway, Jones and Henderson in the first five. Also playing so far this evening have been Martavious Newby, LaDarius White, Anthony Perez and Terry Brutus. Everybody has scored.
Ole Miss takes on Montevallo at 7. The Falcons were Division II national runners-up last year. They return three starters but not their two main games.
There is cautious optimism for an Ole Miss team that returns four starters and a talented class of newcomers.
Some shootaround video from a few minutes ago here:
I’ll have updates on Twitter and will be back here at halftime and after the game.