What is the true identity of this Ole Miss men’s basketball team? One minute, they’re pushing the No. 1 ranked Kentucky into a corner in overtime. Then they dominate South Carolina on the road. We don’t know what the hell happened against LSU. Just when you have them figured as a bust, they slam nearly 100 points against No. 19 Arkansas. And, it was like they were “just playing” Arkansas. They were on the road. In Fayetteville. The Hogs couldn’t even remember the last time they lost there without the help of Google.
Saturday night, the Rebels looked bipolar compared to their lackluster performance last Wednesday. Against the Tigers, Ole Miss was 27-78 in shooting. That horrific performance averaged to just 34.6% from the field. There is little hope when your team’s top three scorers finish just 14-of-45. So yeah, when Ole Miss went to Fayetteville to face an Arkansas team that had not lost a game at Bud Walton Arena since January 28, 2014, it’s easy to assume it was an impossible task for the Rebels.
However, if the Rebels made any statement this season it is they are one hell of a road team. And, that is not an understatement. Ask Oregon. Ask Kentucky. Now, ask Arkansas.
First Impression from Saturday Night: The difference in shot making
In less than a week, the difference in shot making showed an improvement of 22% in field goal percentage for the Rebels. That is impressive. The first half of play was probably one of the best performances I’ve witnessed from an Ole Miss basketball team in a long time. The Rebels scored a massive 53 points heading into halftime, while maintaining the accuracy that lacked against LSU. They were 74.1% from the field, 20-for-27, adding 6-for-7 from behind the arch.
Second Impression: I love it when Moody is not moody
When Stefan Moody is having a bad night, the Rebels are having a bad night. Against LSU, Moody finished 5-for-18 in field goals, and a disappointing 2-for-9 in three point shooting. But, somehow managed to get 14 points with his amazing free throw shooting abilities. That was a bad night for him. A good night for Moody was last night. Yeah, 18 points was not jaw dropping, and was definitely not the most we’ve ever seen from the talented junior guard. But, his improved accuracy in shot making was stellar. Moody recorded 5-for-9 in field goals, 2-for-3 from three point range, and was 6-for-8 at the line. And of course, we are always awe over alley-oops .
Third Impression: This win meant a lot in so many ways
This was the first time since 2003 that Ole Miss had beaten a ranked team on the road. That alone was an achievement. A win against No. 19 Arkansas opened the door for major opportunities for Ole Miss, if you’re considering postseason talk. The Rebels currently hold No. 42 in the latest RPI Rankings. They now need more wins against teams within the Top 50. Tuesday night, Ole Miss heads on the road to face Georgia, who currently holds the No. 23 RPI rank. If the Rebels can continue their road game miracles, an impressive resume will start to form.
At this moment, the Rebels are on the bubble. They are in good position, but the matchup in Athens will have a lot ridding on the Rebel After Georgia, the Rebels will not have as many opportunities to build impressive wins during the regular season. They will need to maintain wins against teams like Missouri (6-10) and Mississippi State (7-9), who both currently hold RPIs 133 and 200.
After a stretch against teams with RPIs outside the Top-50, Ole Miss will host Texas A&M (11-5), who ranks 39th in the RPI Standings. They will then have the chance to sweep #19 Arkansas when they host the Hogs on February 14th. Arkansas has only won one of their last four road games, and that came in a late rally over Georgia.