Ole Miss Basketball: Time To Move On From Head Coach Kermit Davis?

After dropping their fifth game in a row to the Auburn Tigers, the Ole Miss Rebels Basketball team fell to 8-8 on the season. Their current losing streak was sparked by an embarrassing 66-65 loss at the hands of North Alabama last month. Many Ole Miss basketball fans are not happy with the current state of the Rebels basketball team and it’s time to ask if they should move on from the Kermit Davis era.

A lack of offensive production and a high rate of turnovers have hurt the Rebels all year. To put the disappointing season into perspective so far, the worst loss for the Ole Miss basketball team this year came from the aforementioned University of North Alabama, a team that competed at the NCAA Division II level until just a few years ago before making the transition into Division I.

Currently a member of the ASUN Conference, the Lions have compiled a record of 43-70 in their first four seasons since making the transition and have not been very competitive at the Division I level so far, which undoubtedly makes that loss feel that much worse for the Ole Miss basketball fanbase.

The Rebels were seemingly off to a good start to the season in November, winning their first six games of the year. Their only loss in November was a narrow four-point defeat from the Oklahoma Sooners.

That loss would be the start of an abysmal 2-8 stretch including dropping their last five in a row dating back to December 20th. The Rebels have been on a downward spiral since.

Kermit Davis is 4-19 against SEC opponents since last year and 1-13 in the Rebel’s last 14 games against SEC teams.

So what’s the reason behind the Ole Miss basketball team’s woes and what should we expect for the rest of the season? Is Kermit to blame? Are the Rebel’s issues so far this year a result of bad recruiting, bad coaching, or something else? Should the Rebel faithful continue to trust the process?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the problem has been aside from the poor offensive production and the turnover issues. Whether you fall in the group of those who want Kermit out or not, it’s fair to say Kermit Davis has proven himself to be an effective coach in college basketball throughout his long career.

Kermit Davis began his head coaching career in the 1988-89 season, going 50–12 in his first two seasons at Idaho. After one season at Texas A&M and one more back at Idaho, he moved on to Middle Tennessee where he would make a name for himself in the college basketball world.

His first nine seasons as the Blue Raiders Head Coach were not overly impressive but his teams finished over .500 in each season. In year 10 at the helm, they went 27-7 and made the NIT quarterfinals.

The next year they would go on to finish 28-6 and make the NCAA tournament. In his final 7 seasons, the Blue Raiders were 179-23 with 3 NCAA tournament appearances, an impressive run for any coach in college basketball.

This impressive turnaround of the Middle Tennessee basketball program is what brought him to Oxford and expectations were high after a 20-13 finish and an NCAA tournament appearance in his first season with the Rebels.

However, Ole Miss has regressed every year since that 2018-19 run except for an NIT appearance in 2020-21.

It took him nine years with Middle Tennessee before they became an NCAA tournament contender consistently, so maybe Kermit Davis just needs more time to build, but in the SEC time is not a commodity often afforded by fans.

The Rebels at least seemed to be more competitive year by year under former coach Andy Kennedy who was 245–156 in his tenure with Ole Miss.

Kennedy led the Rebels to two NCAA tournament appearances and six NIT appearances as their Head Coach. Kennedy’s only losing record came in his final season when Ole Miss dropped the hammer on him before the season’s end.

Right now the Ole Miss basketball team seems to be going in the wrong direction and they have trended down over the last few seasons. A five-game losing streak, a 2-8 record over their last 10 games, and a loss to a new Division I North Alabama team after being 22.5-point favorites just might be the first few nails in the coffin for Kermit Davis.