Day After Observations (Saturday Night Edition)

Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 83-77 Moody-less loss at Mississippi State …

It was the fourth-straight loss for Ole Miss.

No one really expected an Ole Miss team missing three starters to win at MSU, right?

That was my thought before the game, and that was the vibe on Twitter then as well. Quite often those doom and gloom predictions come true.

This one did, but the means to the end may have surprised some folks.

The Rebels weren’t only missing the SEC’s leading scorer but also their second-leading scorer in Sebastian Saiz and the 15 rebounds a game that Saiz and Martavious Newby provide.

It was not surprising to see the Rebels come out and battle. There’s not a lot of experienced production on this team beyond Moody and Saiz, but effort has not been a problem.

It was effort that helped Anthony Perez get 10 rebounds and post a double-double. It was effort that helped Marcanvis Hymon get 10 rebounds and allow Ole Miss to be plus-five on the glass.

Effort can make up for a lot of things, but it has to combine with some level of talent and athleticism to score points on contested shots at the rim.

That was the Rebels’ biggest downfall in the game.

They shot 31.3 percent in the first half yet led 38-36 because they had shot 7-for-13 from 3 and 11-for-12 at the free throw line.

And because they had forced – received might be a better word – 11 turnovers from MSU. It was not hard in the first half to see why the Bulldogs were 0-5 in the SEC. They have obviously had some better performances than their first half showed or they wouldn’t have been as close to a couple of wins as they have been.

We have talked at length about Moody’s importance to this team and the Rebels’ unhealthy reliance on him.

There’s a reason Moody shoots all the time. He’s the best option. He’s far and away the best option.

The Rebels needed a couple of guys to play far above their heads if they were going to win. There was indeed more offense from a couple of players but nothing that really blew you away.

After an 0-for-10 performance against South Carolina Rasheed Brooks was 8-for-15, 4-for-7 from 3 for 20 points to tie a season-high.

Perez had 14 points and was 3-for-3 from 3-point range. However, he was 0-for-7 inside the arc.

Hymon was strong on the glass but was 3-for-9 shooting in his second-straight start.

Sam Finley had played only six SEC minutes in the first six conference games. He played 18 minutes and had 10 points, most of that at the free throw line where he was 6-for-6. His shooting was inefficient, just 2-for-9, 0-for-3 from 3.

Tomasz Gielo knocked down a couple of 3s on four attempts but was 2-for-7 overall.

In short, a lot of guys absorbed Moody’s shots, but they knocked them down in accordance with their ability, not his.

MSU coach Ben Howland spoke of Moody in glowing terms after the game and basically called him – in his opinion – a can’t miss NBA player.

Asked if he thought Finley might help the Rebels moving forward, Andy Kennedy referenced his shooting percentage and called it “problematic.”

Perez’ 3-for-3 3-point effort wasn’t enough for Ole Miss to win at MSU, but it could be massive in games to come. Perez was 4-for-5 from 3 against South Carolina. Before Tuesday he had not hit more than one 3-point shot in a game this year. Now he’s hit seven of his last eight over two games.

Perez has a track record that will make a lot of folks slow to get too excited right now, but there are great possibilities if he continues to shoot well from outside and if Brooks keeps shooting as well.

Kennedy continues to list Moody as “day to day,” so it’s possible he could be back for Wednesday’s home game against Auburn.

You look at this out-manned effort against Mississippi State and applaud the fight and competitive spirit. Then you hope you find something that makes this team better when Moody can play again. Maybe that something is Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey.

I called it a “grow-up game” for Dorsey before the tip, and I think he did a lot of growing up. He played 28 minutes and ran the offense well with just two turnovers. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting and had four assists.

However, 12 of his points came in the final 3:18 when the Rebels were down 11.

Fitzpatrick-Dorsey, I’m just going to call him DFD to simplify things, needs to make a bigger impact earlier in the game. He’ll get there. This is a guy who was Rivals’ No. 144 player last year but missed the first semester clearing up an academic issue. He was thrust into things during the Christmas break and didn’t have those November and early December games to feel his way around. If he had, he’d be much farther along right now.

It might be that when Moody returns now Kennedy has more confident in playing Moody and DFD at the same time.

The big question will be how Moody feels when he comes back. Will he let himself go when that hamstring, while healed enough to play, doesn’t feel as comfortable as it once did?

We’ll see.

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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