Day After Observations

Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 72-71 win over Florida …

Ole Miss has been such an erratic home team this season that I didn’t have much confidence that it was about to make the crucial plays down the stretch to beat a quality SEC team.

Florida isn’t as quality as it was last year, but there’s still talent on that roster.

The Rebels stormed back into contention with a 13-0 run when they had fallen behind seven in the second half. At one point in the first half they trailed by 11.

So often this season it’s been Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers, maybe LaDarius White, but then bust as far as scoring goes.

Dwight Coleby has come on of late and continued that trend with low-post scoring yesterday.

He had a couple of glaring misses late, but had he not been on the mark earlier the Rebels would not have been in position to win. He finished 5-for-8 from the floor.

The big surprises yesterday, and the guys Ole Miss had to have, were Anthony Perez and Terence Smith.

Perez’ mere presence was a surprise as he was appearing in an SEC game for only the second time this season.

Smith sees the floor much more often as the backup point guard. A post-grad transfer like M.J. Rhett, he was a noted 3-point shooter at Tennessee State. That part of his game had not transferred as much to Ole Miss.

Smith hit only one of his first 14 3-point attempts this season. Starting with his 16-point performance against Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 20 he’s hit 12 of 21. His 3-for-6 3-point shooting against the Gators, though, was the first time he’s hit more than one 3-pointer in an SEC game.

After shooting 40.1 percent from the floor overall and twice scoring 20-plus points in SEC games as a sophomore Perez was a logical candidate to take a big step forward this season. That hasn’t happened, and his lack of minutes has reflected his non-production.

He may have earned more minutes moving forward. He only attempted three shots but hit a big 3-pointer and added five rebounds and an assist with no turnovers in only 12 minutes of play. He hit a couple of key free throws too, not easy to do coming into the game cold.

Stefan Moody (2-for-10 FG, 0-for-5 3’s) wasn’t hitting the shots yesterday, and somebody not named Summers had to score.

Summers was 5-for-11 from the floor. There was no doubt who would have the ball when Ole Miss threw it in down a point with 9.8 seconds left. And there was no doubt Summers was going to the rim after he settled for a long jump shot in the same situation at Kentucky.

The surprise in the last 10 seconds was that Florida didn’t work harder to cut off Summers’ path before he got into the lane.

Summers also had eight assists and only one turnover in 33 minutes.

Moody, visibly frustrated, worked to involve his teammates more as the game went on and finished with four assists and two turnovers.

The Rebels were plus-1 on the glass and really protected their offensive end, limiting Florida to four offensive rebounds.

In short, they did what they had to do to win a tough game yesterday, and they had not done that in SEC play. They’d been fairly dominant in their two conference wins. It was good to see them make clutch plays in a close game.

The bottom line is as inconsistent as this team has been it remains in the thick of the NCAA conversation with a 44 RPI.

That won’t last if the Rebels don’t string some wins together beginning Wednesday night at home against Mississippi State.

Ole Miss opponents next week ranked No. 198 (MSU) and No. 150 (Missouri) in the RPI. The Rebels won’t stay in the NCAA conversation long if they lose games like that.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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