Ole Miss enters this evening’s game with a record of 13-10, 8-8 in the Southeastern Conference. The Rebels have won five of their last seven games but are coming off of a 75-70 loss to Vanderbilt. Coach Kermit Davis has put his stamp on this program in his third year at the helm by building a hard-nosed, defensive-minded team. Ole Miss is very willing and able to win games in the 50’s and 60’s so this will be a battle between two teams that win games primarily on the defensive end.
Offensively, the Rebels are last in the SEC in three point shooting and rank near the bottom nationally in that category. They shoot just 28.5% from beyond the arc as a team. In their last two games they have gone 3/11 and 4/13 from three point range so they don’t look to shoot very many either. Their 69.2 points per game is second to last in the conference as well.
On the defensive side of the ball Ole Miss stacks up much better allowing just 63.9 points per game on 42.6% field goal shooting. They also force over 16 turnovers per game which is 19th nationally. Opponents have had success knocking in 3’s though shooting at a 37% clip against the Rebels. Assuming that they sit back in a 2-3 zone defense primarily it will be very important for Kentucky to find their outside shooting stroke once again.
#24 Jarkel Joiner: 6’1″ 180 lbs, Junior Guard
10.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.4 apg
Shares the ball handling responsibilities with #2 Shuler. Aggressive. Really wants to drive it right. No right hand drives! Much more of a driver than a shooter. 12/61 from three point range on the season. Closeout short to stay between him and the basket. You don’t need to guard him outside of the three point line. If he makes a couple we will adjust. Go under the ballscreens and handoffs. Likes to shoot the pull-up jumper as he drives it to his right. Be ready to contest the jumpers. Not really thinking about passing as he drives it. You can bring some help and try to take it off of him when he drives. Stay between him and the basket! Likes to use the left to right crossover. Back up and guard against the right hand drive. Help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter. NO LAYUPS!!!
#2 Devontae Shuler: 6’2″ 185 lbs, Junior Guard
16.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.3 apg
Combo guard. Excellent scorer. SHOOTER! NO 3’s! You need to be tight to him and take away his three point attempts. He is by far their best shooter. Really good shooting them off of the dribble as well. Be tight to him and break his rhythm as he is bouncing it. Get over the ballscreens and handoffs. Switch if you need to. Chase him off of downscreens and get over the flares. He likes to settle behind screens on the perimeter to shoot the 3. Tighten up to him as the ball is driven towards you. Stay with him at all times and contest everything! Very good driver going either way, but prefers to drive it right. Make him finish over you when he drives it. Bring help when he drives it and make him give it up. Everyone else should be packed in anyway to stuff the driving lanes. Really likes to shoot jump shots as he drives it. Contest everything! More shots than points for him.
#15 Luis Rodriguez: 6’6″ 210 lbs, Sophomore Guard/Forward
7.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
Strong, athletic wing. No catch and shoot 3’s. Be there on the catch to take away the initial catch-and-shoot and then bounce back to guard against the right hand drive. No right hand drives. We need to have solid, disciplined closeouts. Do not fly by him. Chop your feet and the bounce back to stay between him and the basket. You can go under the ballscreens and handoffs, he is much better from the catch than he is off of the dribble. Good cutter off of the ball. Do not get back cut. He will catch it around the basket some and score with his right hand over his left shoulder. Be physical with him. Will fly in from the perimeter to offensive rebound. BOX OUT!!!
#5 K.J. Buffen: 6’7″ 230 lbs, Junior Forward
8.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.5 apg
Face up 4-man. Non-shooter. Just 7/18 from three point range. Really wants to drive it right. No right hand drives!!! Closeout short to stay between him and the basket. Do not let him beat you going to his right. He really likes to face you up off of the block and drive it right. If he starts going left he is going to spin back to his right. Just throw a hand up to contest if he shoots the face up jumper. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. They will bring him off of diagonal backscreens to catch it around the hoop. Be physical with him. Help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter. Crashes the offensive glass hard. BOX OUT!!!
#0 Romello White: 6’8″ 235 lbs, Graduate Transfer Forward
11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
Physical 5-man. Right hand driver. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! He will catch it on the perimeter a lot and look to drive it right. Slips a lot of ballscreens to get it on the perimeter. Closeout short and stay between him and the basket. You should be several feet off of him when he has it on the perimeter. Be ready to be physical as he drives it at you. Right hand, left shoulder when he catches it in the post. He will face you up to drive it right too. Make him score over you with your hands up. Always looking to come back to his left shoulder to finish with his right hand. Loves to spin back to his right hand. Wall up and be physical on his left shoulder. Take him away on the roll by helping all the way in off of anyone besides #2 Shuler. BOX OUT!!! Excellent offensive rebounder averaging over two per game.
#21 Robert Allen: 6’8″ 230 lbs, Junior Forward
4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 apg
Lefty. Backup 4-man. He is looking to drive it left. No left hand drives! Closeout short to him and stay between him and the basket. He will shoot the 15-foot face up jumpers, throw a hand up to contest those when he shoots them. Scores with his left hand over his right shoulder in the post. He prefers to face you up though. Be ready for him to shoot the little jump shot or drive it left. Help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter. Very good offensive rebounder. BOX OUT!!!
#11 Matthew Murrell: 6’4″ 200 lbs, Freshman Guard
3.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.7 apg
Backup guard. Willing shooter. Half of his shots have been 3’s. No catch and shoot 3’s. Be there on the catch to give a hard contest if he shoots it. Shooting the same percentage from 3 as he is from 2. Very inefficient. He is looking to drive it right once you take away the initial catch and shoot. Bounce back and be ready for him to drive it right. Make him score over you.
#3 Khadim Sy: 6’10” 238 lbs, Senior Forward
3.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.3 apg
Backup 5-man. Bouncy around the rim. Wants to finish everything with a dunk. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Just be physical with him and get him off of the block. He will ballscreen and look for the lob on the roll. Make him score over you. No dunks! BOX OUT!
#1 Austin Crowley: 6’5″ 195 lbs, Sophomore Guard
2.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.7 apg
Backup guard. Willing shooter. Shooting a very low percentage. Closeout short to stay between him and the basket. We will adjust if he makes a couple. Just throw a hand up to contest. No right hand drives. Don’t get beat off of the dribble. Help off of him when he doesn’t have it. No layups.
Besides senior guard Devontae Shuler, this Ole Miss offense simply doesn’t have very much fire power. They are scoring just 69.2 points per game which is second to last in the conference and are near the bottom of the country in three point shooting at 28.5%. They are going to play at a slow, deliberate pace and try to win in the 50’s or 60’s.
One thing that they do well is offensive rebound. Ole Miss leads the SEC in offensive rebounding rate along with ranking high nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and offensive rebounds per game. They get 9.9 second chances per game.
They have a handful of sets that they will run through offensively, but they run a base 4-around-1 Motion with a lot of ballscreens especially for #2 Shuler. 5-man Romello White comes out to set a lot of the ballscreens and will slip into space too in order to drive it right from the perimeter. He plays away from the basket quite a bit actually because he slips so many ballscreens into a pop. Their Motion will start to look like a ballscreen/handoff continuity a lot of the time.
Outside of Shuler almost all of their guys are more of a driver than a shooter so be ready for them to put it on the floor and drive it right. You can go under the ballscreens and handoffs for everyone besides Shuler. Chase Shuler around the floor. He likes to flare screens for a 3 so you need to get over the flares and chase him off of downscreens.
Motion: Ole Miss likes to begin possessions with a backscreen and flare screen to get some early movement and help the ball change sides of the floor. They will post up their bigger wings if they have a mismatch on the block off of the backscreen or if they curl the flare screen. From there they are into their Motion where they will set a lot of ballscreens and handoffs. We need to keep our defense packed in and closeout short to everyone besides #2 Shuler or #15 Rodriguez.
Motion: This is the same type of action as the clip above. They went straight to this on the first play against both Missouri and Vanderbilt. You can see that #15 curled the flare screen to look for it at the rim. We shouldn’t give up much on the roll because our defense can help off of most of their guys on the perimeter. Come all the way into the paint if you need to in order to take #0 Romello White away on the roll.
Motion: Their Motion offense will look like a ballscreen/handoff continuity a lot of times because they will bring #0 White out to the perimeter to ballscreen and handoff and then roll or slip back to the basket. We need to be ready for the back cuts as the ball is driven towards us and stay disciplined on closeouts. We only need to worry about #2 and #15 on the perimeter. Otherwise, PACK IT IN! Be a great helper when your man doesn’t have the ball.
Diagonal Screen/Downscreen: One of their favorite set plays is the diagonal screen/downscreen action. Guys like #15 Rodriguez and #5 Buffen are good coming off of the diagonal backscreen because they are solid finishers around the rim. When Buffen catches it off the block like he does here he either wants to drive it right or shoot the face up jumper. Just be ready to contest.
Diagonal Screen/Downscreen: They go to the screen-the-screener action again here. #2 Shuler doesn’t really set the backscreen, but he does come off of the downscreen. #0 White gets it off of the block and is able to drive it because his defender gambles. Don’t go for steals you can’t get. Stay between him and the basket!
Backscreen to Ballscreen: The Rebels also like this backscreen to ballscreen action. We can go under all of the ballscreens or handoffs that aren’t set for #2 Shuler. This should help us stay on #0 White when he rolls or pops. Stay between him and the basket and don’t let him spin back to his right hand!
The Rebels make up for their shortcoming on offense with a very stingy defense. They allow just 63.9 points per game on 42.6% field goal shooting. Ole Miss forces the 19th most turnovers in the country as well at 16.3 per game. They will extend a 1-3-1 zone and trap at half court before falling back into a traditional 2-3 zone. Especially after Kentucky’s struggles against Florida’s zone defense we should expect to see almost exclusively zone defense from Ole Miss. We have to do a good job of breaking the half court trap and then attacking from there.
Keys to the Game
Take care of the ball. Ole Miss forces over 16 turnovers per game which helps them get some easy baskets. We need to value the basketball and get through the half court trap. 12 or fewer turnovers would be great tonight.
Defensive rebound. Along with free baskets from turnovers, the Rebels get a lot of second chances on the offensive glass as well. Keep them in single digits.
Be aggressive offensively. We cannot let the zone defense make us stagnant in the half court. If they do bring a half court trap we need to be aggressive after beating it. Rhythm 3’s and layups. Be ready to shoot a lot of 3’s.
Contain #2 Devontae Shuler. Their offense cannot score enough to win if we do a good job on him. Contest everything. Take him away from 3. More shots than points for him.