I think we've seen this plot before. Senario Hillman was suspended for the game. Coach Grant said he made a "bad decision," and that it "was a basketball issue, not an off the court issue." Your guess is as good as mine as to what that means. Hillman dressed out and sat next to the coaching staff on the bench, sporting his new mohawk, and cheering on the team throughout the game. Tony Mitchell took his place in the starting lineup.
Justin Knox stepped up and had a good first half but disappeared in the second half. We really missed Hillman's defense as the Rebels lit us up from beyond the arc. We had an 8 point lead in the first half but allowed Ole Miss to cut it to 2 by halftime.
We forced some turnovers with the press and Charvez Davis caught fire from 3 point land in the second half to build an 11 point lead. Torrance had a great game at point. I think a lot of people don't realize how much we are going to miss him next year. As bad as this season has been, next year could be worse when I think about our guard situation. Ben Eblen is simply not an SEC caliber player, and we will miss the diversity of Torrance's game.
After building an 11 point lead, we promptly gave up a 10-0 run. Once again we had chances, but did not make the plays down the stretch. Green had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line but made only one of two. I did not like the idea of using our last timeout with 8 seconds left, down 2, with Ole Miss at the line to shoot one more free throw. Had he missed that free throw, we would have had to use precious seconds getting the ball up the court without the luxury of setting up a play. He made it, and Ole Miss played tight defense, switching on every screen to make sure neither Torrance or Davis could get a good look. Tony Mitchell had an open shot but missed it, and we drop to 4-10 in the SEC. Speaking of Tony Mitchell, he has not seemed like the same player we saw earlier in the season. I don't know if it's lingering effects from his illness, being worn down from all the bumps, cuts, and bruises he's suffered over the season, or if the league has somewhat figured him out now that there is more film out there to review. At any rate, we need him to get going again, Senario to learn from whatever mistake caused him to get suspended, and Anthony Brock to find his shot again. The big positive from this game was Davis, he had been gun shy in many games so maybe this will give him the confidence to take the shots when he has them, as he proved today he is more than capable of making them.
The crowd was rather small and not very loud or energetic. There was not much of a student turnout, and I would guess there was probably only 7,000 or so there. I would imagine that will not be the case with auburn and the football trophy presentation crowd coming in for Senior Day next weekend.
Up next, we go to Columbia, SC to take on the Cocks Wednesday night at 6pm. Of course, I would never root against us in a game, but I won't be too upset if this one doesn't go our way. If we lose to South Carolina and auburn can beat Mi$$ $tate, we would "clinch" 5th place in the SEC West, which is a much better draw in the SEC tournament than the 4th spot. The record is very disappointing and this has been a frustrating year, but this team has been fun to watch. They play good defense, play hard, and every game is exciting, even if ultimately disappointing. They haven't given up yet, so let's not give up on them.