By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Against one of the top defensive team in the SEC, Nick Williams believes he has the answer:
Get out in transition.
Ole Miss has won three of its last four and played its way into a three-way tie for fourth place in the SEC standings as it reaches the half-way mark in the SEC season.
The Rebels (14-7, 4-3 SEC) have a chance to boost their RPI standing tonight at Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff against Alabama (14-7, 3-4) is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
The Crimson Tide comes in with an RPI ranking of 36, Ole Miss at 44.
Rebels coach Andy Kennedy says efficiency on offense will be important against an Alabama team that ranks second in the SEC in field goal defense holding opponents to 37.3 percent shooting.
“The big thing, and we’ve been talking about it, is fastbreak points,” Williams said. “They don’t really do too good at getting back on D, and I know J-Mike, he’s lazy. He don’t like to run back anyway. I think we can get some real, real easy buckets and fastbreak points.”
Williams, a Mobile native, played AAU basketball with Alabama star JaMychal Green and guard Andrew Steele.
Skilled on the perimeter, Green leads the Tide in scoring at 13.7 points and adds 6.9 rebounds.
Transition basketball has not been the personality for an Ole Miss team that is averaging 66.1 points and has reached 70 just twice in SEC play.
More important for the Rebels, Kennedy says, will be strong play from their top offensive players – Terrance Henry, Jarvis Summers, Murphy Holloway and Williams. They have to knock down shots when opportunities present themselves.
“For us, the focus is on quality, not quantity,” Kennedy said. “Lets make timely shots. Nick has been able to do that. Terrance was huge against South Carolina, and Jarvis has been timely. We’ve got to have other guys step up and help as well.”
Ole Miss and Alabama have split their regular-season series in 10 of the last 13 seasons including last year when the Tide won 74-64 in Tuscaloosa, and Ole Miss won 68-63 in Oxford.
Ole Miss has been a strong defensive team as well, ranking just behind Alabama with a 39.4 shooting percentage for opponents. The Rebels are 11-2 when opponents shoot below 40 percent.
They’ll have a better chance to hold Alabama in the 30s if they improve their ball-handling. The Rebels are averaging 16 turnovers a game and are last in the SEC in turnover marching at minus-2.0 per game.
Kennedy expects to see a good deal of pressure from Alabama and doesn’t believe his team has handled that style very well.
“Certainly not as good as I would have hoped. In certain games we’ve been better than others,” he said, “but overall just look at our turnover numbers. They’re laughable.”