Much to the dismay of Ole Miss basketball fans, the Rebels fell short in their NIT run. Georgia Tech came into The Pavilion, manhandled the Rebels, and silenced the capacity crowd. Behind the aggressive play of Lammer, GT would shock the Rebels 74-66 and silence our NIT hopes of cutting Garden nets.
Ole Miss basketball (22-14) had made a great run in the NIT, coming off wins over Monmouth and Syracuse. By all appearances, Georgia Tech (20-15) looked like the underdog coming into the game Tuesday night. Man, can looks be deceiving.
There was a shocking revelation Tuesday night in The Pavilion. Ole Miss basketball just wasn’t ready for Georgia Tech. I will be the first to admit being very surprised. Not so much that we lost, but the manner in which we lost. Georgia Tech completely dominated the game from start to finish, looking as though they were the home team with the better record.
The Wreck Was Rolling
Ole Miss Rebels Basketball
Georgia Tech (20-15) will be headed to Manhattan for the NIT Final Four, due in large part to their aggressive play. They brought that aggressive play to The Pavilion against the Ole Miss Rebels. The Yellowjackets shot 27 of 52 (51.9%) from the field and edged the Rebels at the charity stripe, hitting 17 of 20 (85%).
Josh Okogie would lead Jacket scorers with 26 points, with Ben Lammers adding 20 points to go with his 8 blocked shots. I like Lammers and I’m anxious to see his play in the Garden.
Rebel Shooting Stalls
In contrast, the Rebels put up way more shots from the field than GT. Ole Miss shot 27 of 68 (39.7%) from the field. The overwhelming difference in the game was the lack of Rebel players going to the free throw line.
From my perspective, for what it’s worth, I saw the Rebels rush way too many perimeter shots. Of course, this means we had very little underneath play which is illustrated in the fact, only 8 shots were made from the foul line. In my opinion, seeing the lack of accuracy from beyond the arc, 6 of 28 (21.4%), the game should have been moved inside. However, hindsight is always easy for the armchair coach. According to OleMissSports.com, apparently, Andy Kennedy saw the same thing,
"“We played well coming into tonight. For us, we lead the nation in free throws made. That’s a stat that won’t happen again. But we went 6-8. I thought the zone made us settle a little bit. Some of it is the zone because at Syracuse we made 15 3’s and started falling in love with it. You know the guys that were making them a few days ago were not making them tonight.” -Coach Andy Kennedy"
Ole Miss Basketball Highlights
Yeah, there were highlights. However, highlights don’t mean quite as much when you are on the receiving end of a beat-down. Of course, with a last game of the season always comes the goodbyes.
Saiz Says Farewell
Sebastian Saiz has been a model student-athlete, during his time at Ole Miss. For 4 seasons Saiz has battled thru the SEC basketball ‘big man’ learning curve and injury, to go down as one of the greatest players in a Rebel uniform. Tuesday night, all eyes were on the Madrid, Spain native as he took the floor. Many Rebel fans, like myself, would be too superstitious to openly acknowledge it could be his last game. Unfortunately, It would be for the Howell Trophy winner.
Saiz would finish his career with a 19 point and 15 rebound performance. During the game Sebastian Saiz would become the 7th player in SEC history to record 1000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 100 blocked shots. Considering the great big men who have played SEC basketball, Saiz is in very special company.
So AK, What’s Next?
Yeah, it’s no secret I like Andy Kennedy. He has done well during his tenure as Ole Miss basketball head coach I feel. Could he have done better? I’m sure nobody would agree more than him, he could have done better. Coaches go into a season, and then into each game, believing they have the best team and can win every game. Andy Kennedy does it; he believes his basketball teams can compete with anybody. He should believe it, I mean he’s seen his teams do it. However, simply competing doesn’t translate into wins when it matters most.
To be fair and honest, AK has done a lot in terms of winning seasons. He has never coached a Ole Miss team thru a losing season, at all. In fact, in his 11 seasons as Ole Miss head coach, AK has had 9 20-win seasons. Before Kennedy arrived there are only 7 20-win seasons total in the record books.
Kennedy is the longest tenured coach in the SEC out of any football and basketball coaches. He is also the winning-est coach in Ole Miss basketball history. Coach Andy Kennedy has made the post-season in 8 of his 11 seasons in Oxford. That in itself, proves his resume and proves we are lucky to still have him as head coach.
About My Prediction…
Of course, I was wrong about Georgia Tech. After studying their schedule and statistics, I really believed we could beat them in our house. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only Rebel fan who did. Thanks to Ole Miss basketball for a great run and an exciting season. Hotty Toddy!
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