1. Hottest scorer in the SEC
Starting guard and best player for the Ole Miss Rebels is shooting guard Breein Tyree. A Somerset, New Jersey native, Tyree averages a Southeastern Conference leading 20 points per contest. He’s the best shooter on the team, hitting 37.4% of his threes and 78.6% of his free throws. Tyree is on a red-hot streak right now, leading his team to three consecutive wins, in which he scored 38 points, 23 points, and 40 points.
On top of his scoring, Tyree is averaging 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. On top of the three most recent games, the 6’2″ senior has also had games scoring 36, 27, 26, 34, and 24 this season. In the past match ups with Kentucky, Tyree has been a big contributor, combining for 34 points over the past two games. Despite being very ball dominant, he isn’t turning it over at a high rate either, making him extremely tough to defend.
2. One man show
While it is great to have a player like Breein Tyree, Head Coach Kermit Davis is probably wishing his team didn’t live and die with one player. Outside of Tyree, Ole Miss struggles to score on a consistent basis. The Rebels rank 11th in the Southeastern Conference and 190th in the country in points per game, while ranking 10th in the conference in total field goal percentage, which is 171st nationally.
In games that Tyree struggles, the team as a whole usually stands no chance, which is why defending him effectively is so important this afternoon. The Rebels are 2-4 in games that Tyree scores in single digits this season. A good sign for Kentucky is that this game is in Rupp Arena, and Tyree’s numbers dropped significantly when playing on the road. His points drop by nearly 6 per game, his turnovers more than double, his free throw percentage drops almost 8%, and both his field goal and three point percentages drop by nearly 10% a piece.
3. Finally, a team not known for offensive rebounding
Through this stretch of SEC Saturday games for Kentucky, they’ve faced some of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and it has had a visible effect on the games. Luckily for Kentucky, Ole Miss struggles to rebound even more than they struggle to score. As a team, Ole Miss ranks 12th in the SEC in rebounds per game and 13th in offensive rebounds per game. Thats 219th and 258th in the country in those respective categories.
Part of the rebound struggles for Ole Miss stem from a lack of size in contributing players. Three of the top four tallest players on the roster aren’t contributors. The best rebounder on the team is 6’7″ KJ Buffen, who averages just 6.1 boards per game, ranking 17th in the conference.
4. The Rebels are going streaking
The game by game results this season for Ole Miss have come almost exclusively in streaks. Sitting at an overall record of 13-11 on the season, the Rebels have already racked up two winning streaks of four games and a third of three games. On the flip side, the Rebs have had two losing streaks of two games and a losing streak of six games as well.
The fifth ranked opponent that Ole Miss has faced this year, Kentucky looks to keep them winless, as the Rebels currently are 0-4 against ranked teams this season. The two best wins for Ole Miss are over Penn State on a neutral floor and against Florida last week. Ole Miss is playing their best basketball of the season during their current three-game winning streak, winning all three games by double-digits. If Breein Tyree can continue his hot streak, the Rebels will try to continue theirs.
5. History is not on Ole Miss’ side
If you think that history is a good basis for what happens in sports match ups, then you have to like the Cats’ chances of knocking off the Rebels today and covering the 9.5 point spread as well. Since John Calipari took over at Kentucky, Ole Miss is 1-11 against the Cats, currently on a ten-game losing streak.
Of those 11 total wins over Ole Miss, Kentucky has won by double digits seven times. The last time that Ole Miss defeated Kentucky was February of 2011 at Ole Miss. As for in Rupp Arena, the Rebels haven’t beaten Kentucky since 1998, a year that Kentucky went on to win the National Championship. That was actually the only time that Ole Miss has ever won at Rupp Arena going into today’s game.
Go Cats. Beat Rebels.