After upsetting 5-seed Wisconsin 57-46 on Friday afternoon, the Ole Miss Rebels advanced to the round of 32 for the first time in 12 years. That year the 3-seed Rebels defeated 14-seed Iona and 6-seed Notre Dame before falling in the Sweet 16 to 2-seed Arizona. That was the only time Ole Miss has made the Sweet 16 in the program’s history.
They will try to make it two on Sunday night when they take on 13-seed La Salle. After being the last at-large team in the field, the Pioneers were sent to the play-in game in Dayton where they played Boise State for the right to play 4-seed Kansas State. After a nine-point win over the Broncos, they set out to upset the Wildcats. La Salle jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead before crumbling in the second half. They were able to pull out the upset 63-61 behind clutch shooting at the end by Jerrell Wright. After two wins deemed to be upsets, the Pioneers will look to continue their winning ways against Ole Miss.
Record: 23-9, 11-5 in Atlantic 10
Conference Tournament: Lost to 5-seed Butler 69-58
NCAA Tournament: Defeated 13-seed Boise State 80-71 in play-in game
Defeated 4-seed Kansas State 63-61 in round-of-64
Quality Victories: No. 9 Butler, @ No. 19 VCU, Villanova
Losses to teams outside the tournament: Central Connecticut State, @ Charlotte, @ Xavier, Massachusetts
Tournament appearances: 13 (first since 1992)
Sweet Sixteens: 2 (last in 1955)
Elite Eights: 2
Final Fours: 2
National Championships: 1 (1955)
1992 NCAA Tournament: 13-seed in East regional: Lost to 4-seed Seton Hall 78-76
Scoring: Ramon Galloway 17.2 ppg
Rebounding: Jerrell Wright 6.9 rpg
Assists: Galloway 3.8 apg
Steals: Galloway 1.9 spg
Blocks: Steve Zack 1.3 bpg (injured), Wright 1.0 bpg
PPG: 72.4 (60th nationally)
Field Goal Percentage: 44.8 (93rd)
Free Throw Percentage: 73.9 (40th)
Three-Point Percentage: 37.6 (35th)
Three-Point Field Goals Made: 7.7 (43rd)
Assists Per Game: 14.4 (70th)
Rebounds Per Game: 31.7 (292nd)
PPG Allowed: 66.1 (161st nationally)
Opponents Field Goal Percentage: 45.7 (303rd)
Opponents Three-Point Percentage: 30.3 (30rd)
Turnover Margin: +3.1 (23rd)
Blocks Per Game: 3.5 (163rd)
Steals Per Game: 7.9 (55th)
The matchup against Wisconsin meant that the Rebels were going to have to be patient and adjust to a bruising style of play. That could not be more different than the Pioneer style which is run small and run fast.
La Salle does not run deep with only four players seeing time in every game and just six healthy players averaging over 9 minutes per game. Since the injury to Zack, they have been a very small team, often using four guards. This could fit well for what Ole Miss has on their roster which is an assortment of athletic guards. Andy Kennedy went ten-deep against Wisconsin with guards Marshall Henderson, Jarvis Summers, Nick Williams, Derrick Millinghaus, Snoop White and Martavious Newby all seeing time. It’s safe to say that they will all see playing time again on Sunday.
Wright has been critical to the Pioneer success all season and has stepped it up recently. He had 21 points and 8 rebounds against Kansas State and at 6’8 240 Lbs. is a lot to handle underneath. The only other forward to see time is Rohan Brown who resembles a figure along the lines of White for Ole Miss. Brown is not as athletic as White and is not nearly as good of a shooter. It will be interesting to see whether or not Kennedy decides to play four guards as well or try to dominate the inside with the size and athleticism of Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner.
The only matchup between two double-digit seeds so far this tournament could prove to be the most exciting one. Both teams are streaking and like to run. Two of the most explosive players in the tournament, Galloway and Henderson, will square off with the better sharpshooter headed towards the Sweet Sixteen. Tipoff is set for 6:40 CT on TruTV.