Notes and observations from the Rebels’ 81-74 loss to Western Kentucky …
When I posted Andy Kennedy’s press conference video yesterday a Twitter reader responded to say, “I just watched that debacle and don’t need to listen to it.”
While that’s not good for business it was an accurate description of the day’s events.
The coming of the College Football Playoff Committee has brought with it the phrase “game control.” The Rebels exhibited that in the first half against Western but melted when the Toppers began to rally.
This was against a Conference USA team that was only 3-4 when the game began.
The Rebels have twice shot under 30 percent in a half in home losses. TCU held Ole Miss to less than 30 percent for the game, and against Charleston Southern the Rebels shot only 17.9 percent in the first half.
Yes the percentages have been better in road games. That looks a little quirky right now, but the guess here is that as the season rolls along we’ll find that Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon aren’t elite teams.
Clearly the roster makeover just isn’t working right now.
Forward M.J. Rhett, who transferred in from Tennessee State, has provided a little rebounding help but to this point has been another big guy who doesn’t consistently score on shots right at the rim.
Terence Smith was a 1,000-point scorer at Tennessee-Martin. Yes, it was Martin, but but the 3-point line is the 3-point line. It was not unreasonable to believe that Smith would hit a decent percentage from the arc this season. Indeed, in preseason he was described by Kennedy as a guy who was really a productive scorer in practice.
Smith hit a jumper at the edge of the lane to give Ole Miss a 56-40 lead with 14:46 – That’s a 16-point cushion with time already burned away in the second half – to play yesterday. It was his only bucket of the game on three attempts in 14 minutes. On the season he’s shooting 26.7 percent from the field, 0.91 percent from 3-point range.
Players who have been more productive at different times in their Ole Miss careers have become less so.
Aaron Jones’ career includes an ACL tear, but that was two years ago. He had flashes of productivity last year but hasn’t sustained it as an upperclassman.
Athletic small forward Anthony Perez, who almost averaged double figures in SEC play last year, has vanished.
Among the newcomers, junior college transfer Stefan Moody has put together good shooting games back-to-back and is now 10-for-16 from 3-point range over his last two games.
When Western took him away in the second half the Rebels had no answer.
LaDarius White shot 5-for-6 from the floor in the first half yesterday but was 0-for-4 in the second. White has had good minutes this season, but he hasn’t been a guy who sustains scoring through the season.
The biggest concern here is Jarvis Summers. A three-star signee who was considered a very good point guard but a project on offense has begun to play like that analysis and not like the Howell Trophy winner that he was last season when he shot 48.6 percent from the floor and averaged 17.3 points.
Summers is 6-for-38 from the floor over his last four games and is shooting 32 percent for the year.
This team isn’t built now for him to be a pass-only point guard. It needs him to score off the dribble as he did last year, to take over a game when the other team is taking momentum.
Shooting wasn’t the Rebels’ only problem yesterday. Western was able to get position and score in the paint and hit shot from outside too.
Clearly the Rebels have been better in some road games.
However, there wasn’t a lot that went on yesterday that inspired a lot of confidence in this team with SEC play coming on fast.