Ole Miss looks for a 2-0 start in conference
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With No. 10 Missouri (12-2, 1-0) rolling into Oxford on Saturday, Ole Miss (12-2, 1-0) has a chance to start SEC play 2-0 in their conference home opener.
The Rebels won Wednesday night against Tennessee, 92-74, and a win Saturday would be Ole Miss’ first 2-0 start in the SEC since the 2005-06 season. The Tigers got their first win as a member of the SEC with an 84-68 win at home over Alabama.
Ole Miss and Missouri have never faced each other, but the Rebels are just 15-108 against top-10 teams with the last victory coming against No. 10 Kentucky in the 2010-11 season.
The Tigers only two losses on the season have come to Louisville in a tournament early in the year and at UCLA at the end of December.
Point Guard: Ole Miss’ sophomore Jarvis Summers and Missouri’s junior Phil Pressey will battle it out at the point Saturday night. Summers is averaging 7.7 points compared to a 13.6 average from Pressey. Summers has only had a remarkable 12 turnovers all season, an average of 0.86 per game, and 3.6 assists per game. Pressey averages 3.4 turnovers per game, but he also averages over seven assists per game.
Guard: Junior Marshall Henderson is the SEC’s leading scorer, averaging 19.1 points per game. Henderson scored a career-high 32 points against Tennessee Wednesday. For Missouri, senior Keion Bell has started in 10 games, averaging 8 points per contest, but he only shoots 18.8% from the three-point line.
Guard: Either senior Nick Williams or sophomore LaDarius White should get the other start at guard for Ole Miss. Williams is averaging 10.7 points per game, while White is averaging 3.6 points per game. Junior guard Earnest Ross is the other starter at guard for the Tigers. Ross is averaging 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest.
Forward: Much like Ole Miss, Missouri will start two seniors at both forward positions. At the first spot, Ole Miss will have Murphy Holloway, who is averaging 15.7 points and 11 rebounds per game. Alex Oriakhi has an average of 10.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for Missouri.
Forward: At the other forward two Memphis natives – Reginald Buckner and Laurence Bowers – were set to square off. However, Missouri’s Bowers, who is the team’s leading scorer averaging 16.8 points per game, sustained a sprained MCL on his right knee in the Tigers’ win over Alabama Tuesday and will miss the next two games, including Saturday’s contest, according to Yahoo Sports.
In his place, Missouri is likely to go with junior Tony Criswell, who has missed the past three games with a broken finger on his left hand. If Criswell, who is averaging 6.0 points per contest in an average of 17.8 minutes of playing time, can’t go, freshman Stefan Jankovic could get the nod. Jankovic averages 10.5 minutes per game and has an average of 4.1 points per game, including shooting 7-for-20 from behind the arc.
For Ole Miss, Reginald Buckner, who is averaging 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, should get the start. Buckner also has 2.9 blocks per game.
By The Numbers
Points Per Game: Ole Miss – 83.7, Missouri – 78.9
Opponents Points Per Game: Ole Miss – 64.7, Missouri – 64.9
Field Goal Percentage: Ole Miss – 44.8%, Missouri – 45.7%
Three-point Field Goal Percentage: Ole Miss – 31.9%, Missouri – 35.5%
Tree-pointers Made Per Game: Ole Miss – 7.1, Missouri – 6.5
Free Throw Percentage: Ole Miss – 70.1%, Missouri – 71.7%
Turnovers Per Game: Ole Miss – 12.1, Missouri – 12.6
Turnover margin: Ole Miss – +5.6, Missouri – -0.9
Rebounds Per Game: Ole Miss – 41.6, Missouri – 45.3
Rebounding Margin: Ole Miss – +4.6, Missouri – +11.7
Assists Per Game: Ole Miss – 13.6, Missouri – 14.8
Blocks Per Game: Ole Miss – 6.0, Missouri – 3.6
Steals Per Game: Ole Miss – 9.6, Missouri – 6.2
For complete stats on Ole Miss, click here.
For complete stats on Missouri, click here.
Both teams have similar style, but for Ole Miss to have a shot at taking down Missouri, they can’t get into a race.
If it is a fast-paced game, the Rebels will have to protect the ball the way they have all season. Missouri is more likely to play sloppy, and Ole Miss’ defense has been known to use their hands to get some turnovers so far this year.
Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork tweeted Thursday there were only 900 tickets remaining for Saturday’s contest, so a packed out Tad Smith Coliseum could give the Rebels extra momentum to pull off the upset.