It’s been a while since the Big Blue Nation has seen the Kentucky Wildcats play. The last game was two days after Christmas against the Louisville Cardinals in the KFC YUM! Center, a game in which Kentucky did nothing to cause a rethink of their national #1 ranking. Tonight the Wildcats welcome Ole Miss into Rupp Arena, a team that has had some ups and downs this season.
Kentucky comes into this game after having faced the now-legendary "Camp Cal," and while there hasn’t been a lot of news out of this annual rite of passage, Calipari had a video the other day that suggested a very successful and productive time away from the competition of college basketball. Now, we’re almost certainly going to see some rust — when you’re away from competition for that long, you are going to get some — but Ole Miss hasn’t looked all that strong in the non-conference season (currently ranked #68 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings )
Season so far for Ole Miss:
Season record: 9-4, 0-0
Andy Kennedy’s team started the season on the wrong foot, losing 66-65 to the #224 Charleston Southern Buccaneers. That was both unexpected and unfortunate, but the Rebels got a top 100 win against Creighton and a top 50 win against Cincinnati before losing their second game to TCU. Since then, they have two more losses to Western Kentucky at home and Dayton on the road. Their last game was on January 3rd to Austin Peay at home, a convincing victory for Ole Miss.
Kentucky and Ole Miss have played 115 times in history, beginning from 1925. Ole Miss has been one of the least successful SEC teams against the Wildcats. Since the turn of the 21st century, the Rebels have managed to beat Kentucky only 3 times in 20 tries, and none of them have been in Rupp Arena.
Ole Miss Roster:
|NO.||NAME||POS||HT/WT||STATUS||YR-EXP||HOMETOWN (Last School)|
|42||Stefan Moody||Guard||5-10/179||S+||JR-JC||Kissimmee, Fla. (Kilgore)|
|1||Martavious Newby||Guard||6-3/210||S**||JR-2L||Memphis, Tenn. (Booker T. Washington HS)|
|32||Jarvis Summers||Guard||6-3/186||S**||SR-3L||Jackson, Miss. (Provine HS)|
|4||M.J. Rhett||Forward||6-9/240||S+||SR-TR||Columbia, S.C. (Tennessee State)|
|11||Sebastian Saiz||Forward||6-9/233||S*||SO-1L||Madrid, Spain (Sunrise Christian Academy)|
|10||LaDarius White||Guard||6-6/205||MR*||SR-3L||McComb, Miss. (McComb HS)|
|23||Dwight Coleby||Center||6-9/240||MR*||SO-1L||Nassau, Bahamas (Piney Woods High School)|
|3||Terence Smith||Guard||6-4/195||MR+||SR-TR||Russellville, Ala. (Tennessee-Martin)|
|25||Terry Brutus||Forward||6-6/230||R*||SO-1L||Spring Valley, N.Y. (Massanutten Military Academy (Va.))|
|20||John Crnogorac||Center||6-11/216||R||FR-HS||Sydney, Australia (Marshall Academy)|
|21||Marcanvis Hymon||Forward||6-6/207||R||FR-HS||Memphis, Tenn. (Whitehaven)|
|34||Aaron Jones||Forward||6-9/230||R*||SR-3L||Gautier, Miss. (Gautier HS)|
|0||Roderick Lawrence||Guard||6-5/185||R+||JR-JC||Orlando, Fla. (South Plains College)|
|13||Anthony Perez||Forward||6-9/205||R*||JR-2L||Cumana, Venezuela (Word Of Life (Kan.) Traditional School)|
|Ole miss basketball|
|+||Eligible transfer/red shirt|
|&||Injured, not available|
Source: Ole Miss Athletic Website
|Rank and Records||MISS||UK|
|Strength of Schedule||#125||#4|
|RPI Top 50||1-1||6-0|
Note: For defensive four factors, lower is better for all but TO%
Ole Miss Team Notes
- Ole Miss is only slightly above average defensively, and is a decent offensive team. Allowing almost 99 points per 100 possessions is not going to impress anybody.
- At 35%, the Rebels shoot the three pretty well. Better than Kentucky, anyway.
- The Rebels take good care of the basketball, relatively speaking, at only 18% turnovers.
- Ole Miss makes their free throws, but they don’t get there very often.
- 2-point shooting seems to be a challenge for the Rebels.
- Mississippi is actually a better defensive rebounding team than Kentucky is by a very narrow margin.
Ole Miss Player notes
- Jarvis Summers is the player that makes it all happen for the Rebels. He’s not very efficient and hasn’t shot the ball well from the perimeter, but he gets to the rim and finishes, and is a very good passer. He gets to the line a lot.
- Stefan Moody, a JUCO transfer, is one of the best defenders on the team and a good 3-point shooter at 35.6%
- LaDarius White is their sixth man, a very dangerous 3-point shooter at 47.8% He also gets to the line well and has good size at 6‘6".
- Martavious Newby is the best defender on the team. He can make the three, but he’s not a prolific scorer.
- Sebastian Saiz is the shot blocker of the bunch, and a good rebounder.
- M.J. Rhett is the most efficient starter and best rebounder on the team.
- Ole Miss: No injuries to report
- Kentucky: Alex Poythress is out for the season with a torn ACL
Jarvis Summers vs. Andrew Harrison/Tyler Ulis — Summers is a tremendous, athletic senior point guard who can get to the rim. He hasn’t shot the ball well this season, but he is capable of better as a career 39% 3-point shooter. He has good size at 6‘3".
Summers dropped 22 on Harrison last season in Oxford, and he’s mature enough that Ulis’ on-ball defense won’t bother him. He can get to the rim against either player and finish, or draw a foul. Andrew is big enough to get to the rim and finish on Summers, though, and Ulis will demand his constant attention.
Stefan Moody vs. Aaron Harrison/Devin Booker — Ole Miss plays three guards, so I’m just guessing here. Moody is a JUCO transfer, but he’s small and quick enough to give both Aaron and Booker problems. He is also a good 3-point shooter, so they’ll both have to stay at home
The good news is, Moody will not be able to guard the much bigger Booker and Aaron Harrison when Andrew is in the game. When Ulis is in, I expect he’ll switch to him and have Summers or Newby cover the 2 spot. Either way, Kentucky’s size gives them the edge here.
- Martavious Newby vs. Trey Lyles — Newby is the team’s best defender but either he or Summers will have a huge size mismatch trying to guard Lyles. Lyles might struggle to guard either of them off the bounce, but Kentucky’s back line will make it hard for them to do any damage driving the ball into the paint.
- Sebastian Saiz vs. Willie Cauley-Stein/Marcus Lee — Saiz is a good player and efficient near the basket, but he is going to have trouble dealing with the length of Lee and Cauley Stein, as well as their abnormal quickness. WCS and Lee are just better players.
- M.J. Rhett vs. Karl-Anthony Towns/Dakari Johnson — This is similar to the power forward spot. Towns is bigger, stronger, longer and more skilled than Rhett, although Rhett is more experienced.
Kentucky’s bench is much deeper and more talented, although LaDarius White is a very good sixth man and many be their second-best player. He can score outside and in, and has the length to be a good defender. We may see more of him than Newby. Terrence Smith has been a solid player off the bench for the Rebels, and has decent size for a guard. Dwight Coleby is the most efficient player on the team and has good size, but is foul prone.
Ole Miss’ lack of size and inside firepower will force them to do most of their damage from the perimeter, and that’s going to be a problem for them. While they can shoot the three, they aren’t great at it, and it’s unlikely that they can make enough of them in Rupp Arena to defeat this powerful Kentucky Wildcats squad.
Kentucky is likely to show some rust after being laid off over a week for the holidays and Camp Cal. John Calipari has promised us some changes in his guard play, and that will be something to look for as far as the Wildcats are concerned, but we should expect the Rebels to try to muck this game up with a lot of contact and different defensive looks to force Kentucky to react to them. I doubt it will work in the end.
State (excuse the momentary cognitive lapse, Ole Miss fans) is a decent team that will challenge Kentucky for a while, but their lack of size and offensive punch, not to mention their very average defense, will prove their undoing. You always have to play the games, but this is a very heavy lift for the Rebels this season.