Yet another embarassing offensive performance. 17 points at halftime? Geez.
We never play well in the Tad Pad. It seems like every year, no matter how good we are playing or what type of team Old Piss has, we take a late season loss over there. In fairness, this Ole Miss team is a bad matchup for us. We saw that in Tuscaloosa when they took us to overtime.
It is true that we have not played well since JaMychal Green has returned. I think there are a couple of factors at play here. First, I do think there are some chemistry issues between JaMychal and the freshmen. When Green was out, Cooper, Lacey, etc, seemed less hesitant to take the open jump shots from the perimeter. As a team, we don't have a lot of confidence in our outside shot (and rightly so, if you look at the statistics), so I think our young guys aren't comfortable taking that open jump shot on the wing with 12 seconds left in the shot clock when they still think they have time to work it in to Green in the post. Second, our best games without Green were against Arkansas and Tennessee. We matchup well against those teams, because they are not comfortable staying in a 2-3 zone for long periods of time. They both want to run and bring ball pressure like us. Also, with Green back in the game, other teams feel more of a need to zone us to try to keep the ball from getting to him on the low block, something they don't worry as much about with our other bigs. For his part, Green is not playing bad at all, he had another double-double and he displayed some great passing skills. He is good at finding the open man when he's double teamed on the block or near the middle of the paint, but still struggles when he gets doubled along the baseline.
So, what's the answer? We are at our best when we are able to penetrate with the dribble drive and get to the line, but we are still going to have to make some outside shots to stretch a 2-3 zone in the halfcourt offense. The perimeter guys, especially the freshmen, need to shoot with confidence. More importantly, we need to speed up the pace of the game. We have played 2 ugly, slow, half court style games in a row, and we can't win that way. Frankly, if auburn had the ability to hit a free throw, they would have beat us. If Ole Miss could make a free throw, they would have ran us out of the gym. The most telling stat of the Ole Miss game: We had 0 fast break points and 0 points off turnovers. Meanwhile, our turnovers led to 16 Ole Miss points.
Which brings me to my next point, I don't know what is wrong with Trevor Releford, but he needs to get back into form in a hurry. His stats were not awful yesterday, he made a couple of 3s down the stretch to keep us in it, but 0 assists and 3 turnovers is not what I am looking for in my starting point guard. He also failed to finish a couple of drives near the basket. It looks to me like he is trying to draw fouls too much instead of trying to score or set up scores. A couple of times he tried the move where he cuts in front of a trailing defender in the open court and stops, hoping to get bumped, and the Ole Miss players read it and avoided the foul. In those situations, we would have been better to continue to attack since we had numbers, instead we had to set up our woeful halfcourt offense. We actually went on a little run with Eblen in the game, but we are playing 4 on 5 offensively with him in the game and you just can't expect to come out ahead doing that for extended periods of time.
Hankerson gets the Reggie Rambo award for the game by picking up 4 fouls in only 8 minutes of playing time.
With Tennessee's win over Vandy and Kentucky's win over Florida, this loss did not effect our SEC tournament seeding, as we would have been the 5 regardless.
Up next, we go to the Big Easy with a chance to avenge our worst loss of the season, in a first round matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday at 2:30 pm. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it to that game, but if we win I will be there for our 2nd round date with Florida. We have a very difficult draw, to say the least. Here is the entire bracket. I hate to say it, but if $tansfield can get their heads out of their ass, $tate has a great shot to make a run to the championship game and play their way back into the NCAA field. I still think we are in regardless, but if we lose to the Cocks, I'll be very nervous this time next week.