About Last Night

A few thoughts at observations after the Rebels’ 79-73 win over Mississippi State. …

Other than the end result, which is ultimately all that matters, it was a less than stellar performance. How many times do you give up 55.6 percent shooting, struggle to shoot 40 percent yourself, get out-rebounded and win?

The answer is not often, but when you do it’s because you score 23 points off turnovers as the Rebels did.

The turnovers – 16 forced by Ole Miss compared to six forced by MSU – were the difference.

They allowed the Rebels to hang around in a game in which they could have been blown out.

They allowed time for Jarvis Summers to get in a groove in the second half after foul trouble in the first.

It was a terrible perimeter night for Ole Miss, a team that really needs its jump shots to drop because its best scorers are its guards.

The Rebels were just 6-for-20 from 3-point range, but because they didn’t allow the Bulldogs to gain real separation late you had that feeling that a couple of big shots would fall.

Finally they did.

Anthony Perez played 17 minutes for the game but just seven in the second half when he took both of his 3-pointers and nailed them both. He tied the game at 60 with 6:16 left and minutes later hit another 3-pointer with an assist from Summers for a 67-62 lead.

Remember Perez. His role is increasing.

The bottom line is the Rebels have to hit shots like that to be successful. Their scorers are their guards. When the shooting isn’t there, they’re going to struggle.

A Twitter reader took issue with me last night when I criticized the Ole Miss bigs for their inconsistency with simply catching the ball.

This is not a new issue. The Rebels lose opportunities in the low post because they don’t handle the ball well.

Dwight Coleby is a much improved offensive player. When he turns loose of a shot I’m thinking it will find the mark, especially from the free throw line where he’s 33-for-40.

But neither Coleby nor his teammates catch passes into the post consistently enough.

I get that some of the passes are zipped in there. This is where I’m hard on these guys. As an athlete there were several things that I didn’t do well, and if the task required straight-line speed, well, I was behind the 8 ball from the beginning.

But I could catch the ball. Whatever ball it was.

So the passes are being zipped in by big-time college athletes, but they’re being thrown to guys of the same skill level – or guys who should be.

I’ve heard a few players through the years, various sports at various schools, tell me “Scholarship players have to make scholarship plays.”

You can’t say it better.

As it relates to catching passes and handling the ball in the post, the Ole Miss bigs could be better.

When they become better, and a guy trying to play at a fast pace like Stefan Moody, or a savvy point guard and deceptive passer like Jarvis Summers, gain confidence in throwing it inside, the team will be much better.

Elsewhere …

The Ole Miss RPI dropped from 46 to 48 by simply playing Mississippi State (211). Playing at Missouri (160) won’t help much either, but it will certainly hurt if the Rebels lose.

There’s no cause for alarm unless the Rebels start dropping games. The SEC is a better RPI league than it’s been in years, and Ole Miss has RPI opportunity games on the horizon against Texas, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU.

So the Rebels are on the bubble, and there’s NCAA tournament talk right now.

All they have to do is win.

And for that to happen all they have to do is shoot. OK, well they need to rebound more like they have recently and less like they did last night. Keep forcing the turnovers, but don’t let the other guys shoot 55.6 percent.

But the biggest thing is to shoot and get the shots to fall.

Every night.

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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  • agingbiker

    I’d not had opportunity to see much of MSU before last night but I was impressed with their quickness and athleticism. They really get it down the court quickly. Mostly though, their determination impressed me. I think you’re right about the Rebs big guys hands. If they can adjust/improve there, this front line later in the year (as well as the next two) could take a lot of pressure off perimeter shooters.

    Enjoyed our short chat.

    • Parrish Alford

      Good to meet you Biker. Thanks for introducing yourself.

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