By David Collier, junior broadcast journalism major in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.
Follow David on Twitter @DavidLCollier https://twitter.com/DavidLCollier
Ole Miss (14-2, 3-0 SEC) is off to its best start in league play since the 2005-06 season, but a win against the Arkansas Razorbacks (11-5, 2-1 SEC) on Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum at 12:30 p.m. would give the Rebels their best start in SEC play since beginning the conference slate 5-0 in the 1936-37 season.
The Rebels have won their last five games and used some dramatics on Tuesday night to get a 89-79 win at Vanderbilt in overtime. Ole Miss also has wins at Tennessee and at home against then No. 10 Missouri.
Arkansas has won their past two conference games at home against Vanderbilt and most recently against Auburn in a double-overtime thriller.
The Razorbacks have improved in year two under head coach Mike Anderson, but they have not found a way to win away from home as they have a 0-4 record outside of the state of Arkansas, including losing those games by an average of 13.25 points.
Arkansas leads the all-time series against the Rebels, 41-29, but Ole Miss has won five in a row, eight of the last nine and 21 of the last 29 meetings.
Point Guard: Sophomore Jarvis Summers, 6-foot-3, 184 pounds | Sophomore B.J. Young, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds
Summers has been outstanding in league play, averaging 14 points per game through the first three games. He still holds a 4 to 1 assist to turnover ratio, and the Jackson native is shooting 90.9 percent from the free throw line in SEC play as well.
Young is the Hogs leading scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game. He’s also totaled 62 assists on the year and is shooting 47.7 percent from the field. However, his three-point percentage is a lackluster 24.1 percent.
Guard: Junior Marshall Henderson, 6-foot-2, 175 pounds | Junior Mardracus Wade, 6-foot-2, 176 pounds
Henderson has made quite a name for himself around the SEC so far this season, and Tuesday night he continued to do just that. He hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer from around 35 feet that forced the game into overtime before the Rebels went on to the 89-79 win over Vanderbilt. The Hurst, Texas native is leading the SEC in scoring, averaging 19.1 points per contest.
Wade is an experienced veteran for Arkansas. He is shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and is averaging 7.7 points per contest this season. He’s not much of a rebounding threat, averaging just 1.4 boards per game. Wade is the second best free throw shooter in the starting lineup, shooting 71.2 percent from the charity stripe.
Guard: Senior Nick Williams, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds / Sophomore LaDarius White, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds | Sophomore Rashad Madden, 6-foot-5, 181 pounds / Junior Rickey Scott, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds
White started his fourth consecutive game Tuesday, while Williams came off the bench. White was hot early on and ended the day with nine points on 4 of 5 shooting. Williams’ production has been down since league play began, but he’s a good option off the bench if he’s not in the starting lineup.
Madden has started nine games this season, while Scott has drawn the start in seven contests, so it’s hard to say who will get the against Ole Miss. Madden and Scott are both averaging 4.7 points per game in just over 16 minutes of playing time each game.
Forward: Senior Murphy Holloway, 6-foot-7, 240 pounds | Junior Marshawn Powell, 6-foot-7, 240 pounds
Holloway didn’t have the type of game he usually does against the Commodores, scoring 12 points with eight rebounds, and a matchup against Powell will be fun to watch as two of the SEC’s best go at it. Holloway leads the Rebels in steals with 28, while Powell has the most turnovers for Arkansas with 30.
Powell is the leader on the floor for Arkansas and is averaging 15.2 points per contest, which is second on the team. He is the best shooter statistically on the squad, shooting 54.9 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from behind the arc. He is also the Hogs’ leading rebounder, reeling in 5.8 rebounds per game.
Forward: Senior Reginald Buckner, 6-foot-9, 235 pounds | Sophomore Hunter Mickelson, 6-foot-10, 245 pounds
Buckner had bounce-back performance against Vanderbilt, posting a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, one game after being held scoreless against Missouri. The Memphis native is second in the conference in blocks per game with 2.8, and Buckner has totaled 37 points and 45 rebounds and 20 blocks in his past four against the Razorbacks.
Mickelson has started all 16 games for Arkansas this year and is averaging 19.1 minutes of playing time. He scores 7.1 points per game on average, while bringing in 4.3 boards per contest. Despite being the tallest guy on the court, Mickelson leads the team in free throw percentage, shooting at a clip of 85.7 percent.
By The Numbers
Points Per Game: Ole Miss – 82.8, Arkansas – 79.6
Opponents Points Per Game: Ole Miss – 64.6, Arkansas – 68.4
Field Goal Percentage: Ole Miss – 45%, Arkansas – 46.1%
Three-point Field Goal Percentage: Ole Miss – 31.8%, Arkansas – 31.6%
Tree-pointers Made Per Game: Ole Miss – 6.9, Arkansas – 5.9
Free Throw Percentage: Ole Miss – 70.3%, Arkansas – 68.5%
Turnovers Per Game: Ole Miss – 11.9, Arkansas – 11.3
Turnover Margin: Ole Miss – +5.4, Arkansas – +6.4
Rebounds Per Game: Ole Miss – 41.1, Arkansas – 36.4
Rebounding Margin: Ole Miss – +4.3, Arkansas – -0.8
Assists Per Game: Ole Miss – 13.0, Arkansas – 15.8
Blocks Per Game: Ole Miss – 5.8, Arkansas – 5.3
Steals Per Game: Ole Miss – 9.6, Arkansas – 9.4
For complete stats on Ole Miss, click here.
For complete stats on Arkansas, click here.
On paper, Ole Miss and Arkansas are very similar. They both like to play up-tempo and use their athleticism to their advantage.
It honestly could come down to turnovers in this one, so if the Rebels can play with the defensive intensity they did a week ago in their blowout win of Missouri, they should get the win.
With a frantic pace, Henderson could have some open looks from deep, but the real key will be how well the Rebels can pass the ball to find the open man. It’s pretty apparent so far that teams are going to chase Henderson off the three-point line, so if they can use that to their advantage and get it to the open man, Ole Miss should put some points on the board.
Ole Miss wins by 14 at home.