On Saturday Ole Miss hosted #10 Missouri. Even without Laurence Bowers, the expectation was that the Tigers would be able to handle the Rebels and continue their first ever trek through the SEC conference schedule. But a funny thing happened along the way. Mizzou played their worst game of the season.
The Tigers were without the beating heart of their team on Saturday, they failed to make shots, they failed to execute and no one on the roster proved able to put the team on their shoulders and lead Mizzou to a win.
Plenty of credit should be laid at the feet of Mississippi as they controlled the game in both halves and won in convincing fashion and led wire to wire. The final score was 64-49 but in reality it didn’t feel that close. It seems apparent that many, including yours truly, underestimated this year’s Ole Miss squad, but for me this was more a case of the Tigers playing poorly than it was the case of the Rebels playing well. That said a win is a win and there’s no question their convincing victory over Missouri will go a long way when the tournament committee is selecting and seeding teams into the bracket.
For the Tigers, this was a game where Phil Pressey and Jabari Brown needed to step up and lead the team. Instead Pressey put up an 0-4 goose egg from three and finished with a very lackluster ten points in 36 minutes. To make matters worse, he wound up with as many turnovers (five) as assists and failed to rally the team or settle them down. Brown wound up with an “okay” 13 points and seven rebounds but was 4-13 from the floor and 2-7 from three and needed to do a lot more. As a team they shot just 2-18 from beyond the arc and 36.8% overall. They turned the ball over 19 times and managed to get to the free throw line just six times in the game.
Senior forward Murphy Holloway led the way for Mississippi. He racked up 22 points, eight rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes of action. He was 8-12 from the floor and the Tigers, lacking the presence of Bowers, their 6’8″ senior forward, had little answer. It was fortuitous that Holloway came up big as the rest of the Rebels that took the floor combined to shoot just 31.8%. Marshall Henderson, the team’s leading scorer, managed just eleven points in the game and struggled with his perimeter shot. He was just 2-8 from beyond the arc and Ole Miss as a team shot 5-18 (27.8%). With ten rebounds, senior forward Reginald Buckner also benefited from the absence of Bowers, but was 0-5 from the floor.
The Rebels (13-2, 2-0) are currently late into their game tonight against Vanderbilt (6-8, 0-2) and have their hands full in a classic “let down” game after upsetting Mizzou.
Missouri (12-3, 1-1) slipped to #17 in the AP Top-25 following their loss. They should be able to bounce back quickly as the Georgia Bulldogs (6-9, 0-2) will be walking into Mizzou Arena tomorrow night to face what is sure to be a very angry and very motivated Tigers team. Despite the fact that they will be without Bowers once again, Missouri should be able to absolutely blitz a Georgia team that is 318th in scoring (59.5 ppg) and 204th in rebounding. On top of that, the Bulldogs have lost games to Youngstown State, Southern Mississippi, Iona and South Florida among others while their “best” wins have come against USC (7-10) and George Washington (7-8).