Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 82-74 win at Alabama …
The great philosopher Meat Loaf once sang to us that “two out of three ain’t bad.”
I concur. And when Ole Miss gets two out of three knocking down shots the Rebels reminded us last night that they can be pretty good.
Ole Miss didn’t get one out of three, much less two, in losses at home to Georgia and at LSU. While those are solid opponents the losses muddied the picture for the Rebels’ NCAA tournament hopes.
Some believe last night’s win did enough to get the Rebels in the dance. I’m not sure an 11-7 league record does that, and that’s what they’ll be if they lose at home to Vanderbilt Saturday night.
There are a lot of factors in play now, and the best thing Ole Miss can do is win just one more. Just win babe.
Vanderbilt is young and has improved as the season has gone along. The Commodores have won six of their last eight, but none of those wins have come against a team in the SEC’s top six.
Here’s your glass half full view: Last night’s shooting spree will provide Ole Miss with momentum, and the Rebels will capitalize on the energy of Senior Night and breeze past the Commodores.
Glass half empty: Winning the most critical regular season games to reach the NCAA tournament is something the Rebels have never done under Andy Kennedy, and now they have the added pressure of the “home court disadvantage” as Ole Miss is just 9-6 in its gym this season.
If two of the Big 3 hit 45 percent or better they’ll have a great chance. Stefan Moody was 5-for-11 (45 percent) and LaDarius White 7-for-9 (78 percent) last night.
White went off from 3-point range (4-for-5) which was something he hadn’t done in a while.
Moody wasn’t hitting 3s at the clip he did against Mississippi State and Tennessee, but ht was able to get into the lane and to the free throw line more than he did in losses to Georgia and LSU.
It helps, of course, for others to be knocking down shots too, and that was Aaron Jones last night. He was 5-for-8 from the floor and played his most minutes since getting 21 against South Carolina in the second SEC game.
Jones has become more of an option recently as some of the shine has slipped away from Anthony Perez to whom Jones had lost his minutes.
Ole Miss shot 61.5 percent in the second half last night. It was the best shooting half for the Rebels since shooting 71.1 percent at Auburn on Feb. 7.
Several of those shots late were of the high-percentage variety, but you don’t get those without hitting some tough shots first.
The Rebels hit some clutch shots, one of them from struggling Jarvis Summers. His only field goal of the game (1-for-8) was on a drive straight down the middle of the lane. He started left and crossed over to his right before finally banking one home. That came with 1:55 to play and kept the Ole Miss lead at the important eight points meaning if Alabama was going to go on a wild 3-point run at the finish it was going to have to hit at least three and get the necessary stops in between.
Folks are rightfully questioning the wisdom of staying with Summers right now, but I don’t see that changing.
Terence Smith has had clutch minutes this season, but in the big picture he’s not scoring enough to take minutes away from Summers who runs the offense successfully when he’s not shooting.
In the last 12 games Summers had two turnovers or fewer 10 times. Seven times he’s had one turnover, and last night he had none. In that same span he’s averaging 5.8 assists.
At various times this season, including the first half at LSU, the Ole Miss bigs have shot well from mid-range. Jones did some of that last night, but Kennedy is not inclined to run more than a handful of plays in their direction. Kennedy has identified Summers, Moody and White as his big three and is committed to them for better or worse.
He has seen Moody get hot and take over a game, and that happened to some degree last night. While White’s back-to-back 3s around the 8:30 mark gave Ole Miss some separation it was Moody that started that run with a floater in the lane and Moody that won the game at the free throw line where he was 13-for-14.
White hit the biggest shots in the game, but Moody had 25 points to lead the team.
Ole Miss has won games this year when only Moody was shooting well.
White had shot just 27 percent and hadn’t reached double figures in the previous five games before going off last night.
Last night was a reminder of what this team can be when at least two of its big three are efficient. The Rebels can win with a monster game from Moody, but they’re at their best when they get two out of three.