Finding ways to win.
David is a junior broadcast journalism major in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss was down by 13 points to Vanderbilt with 8:39 to go in the game, but the Rebels rallied to head to overtime on a buzzer-beating three-pointer from junior guard Marshall Henderson.
It wasn’t pretty, but Ole Miss (14-2, 3-0 SEC) did what it had to do to leave Nashville with a win as they outscored the Commodores 11-1 in the overtime period to win, 89-79.
The Rebels are now off to their best start in league play since the 2005-06 season, and they won a game they usually don’t.
Vanderbilt came into Tuesday’s matchup shooting 20 percent from the three-point line in their previous two SEC games, but 12 of the Commodores 13 made field goals in the first half came from behind the arc. They ended the game with 17 made three-point shots, setting a Memorial Gymnasium record.
However, the Commodores poor free throw shooting – 10 of 23 – left the door open for a Rebel comeback.
Henderson led the scoring with 26 points, while sophomore guard Jarvis Summers (14), senior forward Reginald Buckner (14) and senior forward Murphy Holloway (12) all scored double-digits.
It was the first win for Ole Miss at Vanderbilt since 2001.
Next, the Rebels have a home contest against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. Tip off is set for 12:30 p.m., and it will be televised by the SEC Network.
Ole Miss has found ways to win games.
When any slip up could put you on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, there’s not a lot of room for error, and so far, the Rebels have done what it takes to avoid those mistakes.
There’s something different about this team. They have an attitude about them where they feel a game is never over until it’s over, and it paid off Tuesday night.
The ball movement Ole Miss had early in the game was very effective and gave them some easy buckets. Vanderbilt was only giving up 59.3 points per game, and the Rebels were able to score 40 points in the first half alone.
Ole Miss had some good minutes from several players that will be key for their success going forward.
Buckner rebounded from a zero point performance against Missouri and had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. His consistency going forward will be vital for Ole Miss’ success.
Head coach Andy Kennedy got some valuable minutes from two freshman in Anthony Perez and Martavious Newby.
The Rebels were in a need of a spark in the second half, and that’s exactly what they gave them. Newby played solid, aggressive defense, while Perez knocked won a big three-pointer to cut the deficit to six. A bigger role for Perez and Newby would give Ole Miss more depth than just about any team in the conference.
Sophomore guard LaDarius White got his third consecutive start, and he responded scoring nine points on 4 of 5 shooting. With White being a steady player in the starting lineup, it gives Kennedy a good option on the bench with senior guard Nick Williams.
The Rebels can not afford to get down by double-digits, especially on the road. They were fortunate enough to get away with it Tuesday, but next time, they may not be so lucky.
After arguably their best defensive performance of the season against Missouri, Ole Miss had a terrible time defending the perimeter as the Commodores knocked down 17 three-pointers with 12 of them coming in the first half.
When the Rebels were in man, Vanderbilt used ball screens and penetration to get open looks, and when Ole Miss shifted to a zone, the Commodores once again used a ball screen to make the weak side guard help. Once that happened, Vanderbilt used quick passes to swing the ball to the other wing for an open shot.
Sure, teams won’t be as hot as the Commodores were Tuesday night, but regardless, there’s no excuse for giving up that many open looks.
To make things worse, Ole Miss had a tough time defending the lane in the second half after they made adjustments to contest three-point shots.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rebels had a difficulty of getting things going when Vanderbilt went to their 2-3 zone. Ole Miss needs to get better at attacking a zone instead of relying on Henderson and the long ball.
What It Means
A 3-0 start in league play is everything Kennedy could have hoped for. Now, the Rebels have two winnable games at home. If they take things one game at a time, they have a chance to really get their name in the national spotlight.
It’s not far stretched to think Ole Miss could be 6-0 in SEC play and 17-2 overall when Kentucky rolls into Oxford Jan. 29 for a showdown on ESPN that the whole nation is sure to see.
The bad thing is that it won’t take the rest of the conference that long to figure out the Rebels can’t be taken lightly.
Ole Miss can’t look ahead to any other opponents, or everything they’ve worked for could be over in the blink of an eye.