The Kentucky Wildcats are on a 2-game winning streak in the SEC, having picked off the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday and the South Carolina Gamecocks the previous weekend. The Mississippi Rebels welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to the Tad Pad in Oxford tonight for a red-out game with the Wildcats.
Let's look a a comparison of the two teams' season so far, courtesy of Statsheet.com:
|SEC standings:||W-L Splits:||Kentucky||Ole Miss|
|6||South Carolina||12-7||3-3||Conf Neutral||0-0||-||0-0||-|
Kentucky is coming off a mixed effort against the Bulldogs in which they played remarkable basketball in the first half, then almost surrendered the game near the end. Ole Miss is coming off a beat-down in Oxford against the visiting Tennessee Volunteers in which the Vols dominated statistically, holding the Rebs to only 15% from the arc and 29.9 eFG%. That's tough to recover from.
Mississippi Rebels Basketball Roster
|Will Bogan||3||G||Rarely plays||180||6-1||sophomore|
|Reginald Buckner||2||F||Starter, leading rebounder, 3 blocks/game, foul prone
|Trevor Gaskins||23||G||Major reserve, 34% 3PT shooter, leading steals,
|Zach Graham||32||G||Starter, 2nd leading scorer
|Terrance Henry||1||F||Starter, 2nd leading rebounder
|Dundrecous Nelson||5||G||Reserve, 35% 3Pt shooter||190||5-11||freshman|
|Isaiah Massey||44||F||Redshirt? Hasn't played a minute||220||6-8||freshman|
|Steadman Short||15||F||Major reserve||235||6-9||junior|
|Chris Warren||12||G||Starter, leading scorer, 35% 3PT, leading assist
|Donald Williams||25||G||Minor reserve||215||6-5||sophomore|
|Nick Williams||20||G||Starter, 43% 3Pt but takes few
You may recognize Donald Williams as a former Kentucky redshirt player who was granted a 1-year scholarship by coach Billy Gillispie. Major losses from last year are forwards DeAundre Cranston, Murphy Holloway, and guards Enil Polynice and Terrico White.
No injuries to report for either team.
Ole Miss is very competitive on the Four Factors comparison, shooting about as well as Kentucky and handling the ball almost as well. Kentucky is the better offensive rebounding team and gets to the line at a higher rate than the Rebels.
Ole Miss had a decent pre-conference season but has really struggled since conference play began. The reason is because they have been struggling with their passing, assisting on only 10% of their field goals, they aren't able to defend the three, allowing opponents to shoot 41% while only managing 35% themselves, and allowing opponents to score 113 points/100 possessions while managing only a dismal 104.5. Adjusting these stats for competition, Ole Miss still only manages 111 OE and 101 DE. In other words, the defense they play is not good.
The Rebels shoot the ball very well from inside, but they are shooting it far too poorly from three to take 37% of their shots from there. Ole Miss is also struggling with offensive rebounding in league, coming in 10th in the SEC with only 29.6 percent OR.
If form holds, the Rebels will have a hard time handling Kentucky's three-point shooting. Ole Miss has not been effective guarding anyone on the perimeter so far in the SEC, and they have struggled to take care of the offensive glass. Kentucky's speedy guards, as well as Josh Harrellson's inside rebounding presence, will force Ole Miss to play more man than zone, and even though the Rebels are athletic and reasonably long, they don't seem to utilize those skills particularly well.
Ole Miss is, on paper, a dangerous team if Kentucky can't defend inside. If they force the Rebels to shoot a lot of perimeter shots, that should work in Kentucky's favor. However, one caveat is that Ole Miss does have shooters, particularly Chris Warren, who are capable of scoring from outside and putting pressure on the defense with drives into the paint. His size will prove a particular challenge if coach Calipari decides to put Liggins on him, as he likely will, at least some of the time.
On paper, Kentucky should win this game. But Ole Miss is thoroughly capable of tearing that paper up and throwing Kentucky's hopes for a 3-game winning streak into the dustbin.
For the Ole Miss view on things, visit SBNation's excellent Mississippi Rebels blog, Red Cup Rebellion.