OXFORD – Whether Ole Miss plays its best ball more often today may determine what type of ball it plays in the postseason.
Missouri visits Tad Smith Coliseum, and while the Rebels (15-7, 6-3 SEC) lead the Tigers (16-6, 4-5) in the SEC standings, the game represents a chance for Ole Miss to pick up a resume-building top-50 RPI win.
The Rebels are currently 0-4 against the top 50.
The tip is at 4 p.m.
Consistency for Ole Miss will require improved rebounding, a hill head coach Andy Kennedy thought the Rebels had conquered – or at least made a meaningful advance.
A year ago rebounding wasn’t a concern, but a year ago Ole Miss had seniors Reggie Buckner and Murphy Holloway in the frontcourt.
“I thought we were (getting better), but our last three outings have messed us up,” Kennedy said. “We obviously had these issues in November-December. We thought we had come to some sort of conclusion as to how to remedy them. Then they seem to have raised back up.”
LaDarius White, playing big guard or small forward, led Ole Miss in Tuesday’s 80-64 loss at Kentucky with only five rebounds.
The Rebels, with Sebastian Saiz and now Dwight Coleby playing extensive minutes, both freshmen, had outrebounded their opponents in four of five previous games before being beaten on the glass significantly against South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.
In the last three games Ole Miss has an average rebound margin of minus-14.3.
Kentucky leads the SEC in rebound margin, and Tennessee is second. Missouri is third at plus-6.5.
The Tigers’ second-leading rebounder is senior guard Earnest Ross at 6.5 per game. Most of Missouri’s production, in fact, is in its backcourt.
Jabari Brown is the SEC’s leading scorer at 20.1 points a game, and teammate Jordan Clarkson is sixth at 18.7 points.
Ross adds 13.5 points a game.
Brown leads the league in 3-point percentage at 47.4 He doesn’t have quite the same green light as Marshall Henderson with 137 attempts to Henderson’s 224.
“Jabari Brown is having a player of the year type campaign,” Kennedy said. “He’s shooting a ridiculous percentage in league play from the floor and from 3, and he’s a volume guy. He’s Marshall, but Marshall’s around 33-34 percent, he’s around 53-54 percent. Gives you a little bit of an idea of the challenge they present.”