Notes and thoughts from Ole Miss’ 76-60 win over Arkansas …
Stefan Moody is such a great player than when he’s not great it really looks odd. Consistency is the hardest achievement for athletes, being so good game after game.
That’s why so very few college basketball players average 24 points a game as Moody was doing for much of this season.
That average has been in slight decline since the hamstring injury. However, even in pain Moody has been impressive, because he’s been able to continue to score – until the last several of games.
Moody pulled the hamstring in the last five minutes of the South Carolina game on Jan. 19. He missed the MSU game but in the three games that followed was 14-for-30 from 3-point range.
In the first couple of games back he settled for 3-point shots almost exclusively. He was knocking them down so you thought he had overcome the hamstring.
As he’s begun to trust the hamstring more he’s worked to get into the lane more, but isn’t finishing like he often has.
He was 4-for-17 against Arkansas. The shooting percentage wasn’t that bad – 5-for-11 – on Tuesday night at Florida, but Florida denied him shots, and he fouled out trying to create them. In the two games before Florida he was 5-for-25 from the floor against Vanderbilt and 6-for-18 against Missouri.
In his last four games Moody is 20-for-71 from the floor (28.1 percent). He had shot under 30 percent in a game just once in 21 games, now he has in two of his last three.
Yesterday he looked like something more than a guy who was just in a shooting slump. He looked a step slower. He knew this and tried to force himself to find that burst that makes him look so special. This is when he looked really out of sync.
I asked Andy Kennedy after the game if there was something else going on with Moody, something more than the hamstring, perhaps an illness or something. Kennedy said Moody “hasn’t been feeling well lately,” but attributed his play more to the “grind” of the season.
I think it’s too early to sound all the warning bells on Stefan Moody, but the last several games have been disturbing.
Ole Miss has won 16 games because of his play. It’s a very different team when he’s average.
I don’t think it’s time to sound all the warning bells on Stefan Moody, but it bears watching.
His teammates were able to pick him up against Arkansas, and that’s a good thing, but that hasn’t been the case most of the season. Right now it’s an isolated incident. We’ll see if it becomes a trend Tuesday night at 8 at Texas A&M, a good team which is struggling of late.
Arkansas is an average team that becomes less than that on the road where it is now 1-8 on and for the week lost two games in Mississippi by an average of 24 points.
The Hogs were further hamstrung at The Pavilion when guard Dusty Hannahs, their second-leading 3-point shooter and a 16 points a game guy, got in foul trouble and never became a factor. Hannahs went 0-for-4 from the floor in 16 minutes. He averages 11.48 field goal attempts per game.
Arkansas center Moses Kingsley dominated the Rebels in the first half when he was 7-for-8 from the floor, but Ole Miss, particularly Sebastian Saiz, tightened things up in the second half, and Kingsley was just 1-for-3.
With Kingsley defended and Hannahs not a factor, Arkansas shot just 17.9 percent (5-for-28) in the second half.
Moody helped Ole Miss more in the second half. It was mostly from the free throw line, but you take scoring where you can get it.
Ole Miss trailed by 11 early in the game but battled back and led briefly in the first half before falling behind and trailing by two at the break.
It was a great position considering that Moody, Saiz and Rasheed Brooks had combined for three points.
Brooks’ fortunes never did change, and he was held scoreless. Saiz finished with 15 points in his second game back, Moody with 17.
Saiz was instrumental in shutting down Kingsley in the second half.
With Saiz back from injury after six games away there’s been some talk about playing both he and Marcanvis Hymon at the same time. That may occur more, but yesterday Hymon played strong off the bench and had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. He was 5-for-9 shooting.
Kennedy didn’t need those guys playing together against Arkansas. He needed to rotate them to keep them available. Saiz fouled out with just under 5 minutes left, and Hymon finished with four fouls.
The guys that really saved the day for Ole Miss were Tomasz Gielo and Anthony Perez. The stretch fours shot well together which is something that has rarely happened this year. In the first half when no one else was doing much Gielo had 12 points and Perez six.
If those guys had been off the halftime deficit could have been double figures, and that would have made things a lot harder in the second half.
All in all it was a nice warm fuzzy on Valentine’s Day Eve, but this team doesn’t have the look of one that’s about to go on a run to the NCAA tournament.
Ole Miss has an 85 RPI right now. There’s just too much ground to cover with not enough RPI opportunities left and with four of the remaining six regular season games on the road.