What if I were to tell you that Jarvis Summers recorded 2 assists, Marshall Henderson scored 11 points, and Reginald Buckner was held scoreless? Would you believe that Ole Miss won that game in a blowout? Probably not, but that’s exactly what the Rebels did on Jan. 12 when they defeated No.10 Missouri 64-49. That was in Oxford, now it is Missouri’s turn to try and extract some vengeance of their own when Ole Miss travels to the Show Me State.
Ole Miss (18-4, 7-2) was able to handle the Tigers due in part to the absence of star forward Laurence Bowers. Missouri (16-6, 5-4) is fully healthy now and the same cannot be said about Andy Kennedy’s ballclub. Reserve forward Aaron Jones is out for the season and key sixth-man Nick Williams is out indefinitely. Despite having all of their team in tact, Mizzou has still managed to lose two of their last three games, to two of the SEC’s bottom-feeders no less.
In their most recent loss to Texas A&M, the Tigers held a 22-24 to 8-12 free throw margin, a +8 rebounding margin, and shot over 45 percent from the field. They lost the game 70-68, due in large part to their turnovers. Missouri turned the ball over 16 times in that game and on the season they turn it over on over 19 percent of their possessions. The biggest culprit is preseason SEC player of the year Phil Pressey, who is averaging almost 4 tpg and had 7 against A&M. Pressey had 5 of the team’s 19 turnovers against Ole Miss, a number they will have to get down if they are to win this time around.
The return of Bowers paired with the injury to Jones is a big advantage for the Tigers this time around. He leads the team in scoring with 15.5 ppg and is second on the team with 6.2 rpg and 1.1 bpg. If Murphy Holloway or Buckner find themselves in foul trouble, that will force Kennedy to sub in either one of his freshman forwards Terry Brutus or Anthony Perez. Brutus is a powerful forward, but is unpolished and lacks ideal height, and Perez is built as a perimeter shooter instead of an inside bruiser. Pair Bowers with Tony Criswell and Alex Oriakhi and it becomes vital that Holloway and Buckner log a majority of the minutes.
Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown are a couple of big guards who can shoot the ball well from deep. At 6’4, Williams did a good job guarding the two in the last meeting, but with his injury that duty will fall on the shoulders of Henderson and Derrick Millinghaus. Ross and Brown are excellent in transition as well, especially when Pressey can get off and running. Ole Miss will have to stop the transition game and limit the shooters if they are to have a chance in this one.
Missouri is 13-0 at home this season, including 5-0 in conference play. If Ole Miss is to become the first blemish on that record, they will have to force a lot of turnovers again, limit the shooters, and keep the starting forwards out of foul trouble. It is going to be a dog fight Saturday afternoon and you can expect the Zou Crew to deliver Henderson all he can handle. Game time is set for noon local time from Mizzou Arena.