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Mizzou Hoops Preview: Ole Miss Pt. 2

Missouri is looking for their first ever season sweep of the Rebels.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-February is usually where writers for mid-to-lower tier college basketball teams go to die.

The NCAA Tournament is just around the corner, and the entirety of the college hoops season — from early season MTEs to cross-conference rivalries to the slog of conference play — is structured around the building of a resume. But when you’ve come to the point of acceptance that your team won’t be dancing, everything sort of dulls. Sure, there’s always the grains of hope that lead into the next season. However, that sort of feeling can wear on you over the course of a few weeks, especially if it’s one with which you’ve become acutely familiar. I’m speaking, of course, to the plight of all Missouri basketball fans here.

It’s long been obvious that Mizzou won’t be dancing for a third time under the guidance of Cuonzo Martin. There was even a time when it seemed like we may be staring at the end of the Martin era altogether. However, as the end of the season draws near and alarm bells start to sound for many coaches around the country, all seems quiet on the Columbia front. That’s not to say that Martin is 100 percent safe — no one knows his fate apart from Desiree Reed-Francois — but Mizzou’s soft turnaround may have at least earned him another chance to prove his roster construction and recruiting is trending upward.

Still, if he wants to cement himself for 2022-2023, Martin will need to guide his scrappy upstarts to at least a few more wins. That makes games like Saturday’s home date with Ole Miss crucial. Missouri, challenged in the way of wins, has already proven it can handle (and I mean, handle) the Rebels on their own court. Now, the Tigers get Kermit Davis’ squad in the comfort of their own arena. And while the return of Jarkel Joiner will complicate matters (more on that below), the Rebels are still struggling with injuries.

What was once a chance for the Tigers to steal a win now becomes a crucial moment for Martin’s wavering tenure. Win, and things are looking up for the dying weeks of the season. Lose, and chaos looms in the shadows.

The Scout

The Starters

Position Missouri (9-14) Ole Miss (12-12)
Position Missouri (9-14) Ole Miss (12-12)
PG Jarron Coleman (Jr., 6'5", 210) Jarkel Joiner (Sr., 6'1", 180)
CG Javon Pickett (Sr., 6'5", 215) Tye Fagan (Sr., 6'3", 198)
WING DaJuan Gordon (Jr., 6'3", 190) Matthew Murrell (So., 6'4", 200)
PF Kobe Brown (Jr., 6'8", 250) Luis Rodriguez (Jr., 6'6", 210)
POST Trevon Brazile (Fr., 6'9", 215) Nysier Brooks (Sr., 7'0", 245)

Note: These starting lineups are projected.

For a full scout, check out our preview before the two teams’ first meeting in January.

Two notable differences to point out. First is the presence of Jarkel Joiner, Ole Miss’ best overall player, who was injured for the Oxford visit. Joiner is the Rebels’ best offensive threat in the back court, bringing exceptional ball control and solid defense in addition to above-average jump shooting. He’ll be a factor early and often.

The Rebels will also be without freshman guard Daeshun Ruffin, who injured his knee in early February. Ruffin led Ole Miss in scoring during Missouri’s trip to Oxford, logging 12 points on 5-12 shooting to go along with two assists and four steals. Joiner has taken Ruffin’s minutes, but doesn’t bring as much distribution power as the dynamic frosh.

When Missouri has the ball...

Missouri Offense vs. Ole Miss Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Missouri 104.5 (128) 18 (243) 47.2 (286) 21.3 (324) 32.2 (54) 29.4 (199) 27.8 (349) 49.9 (161) 72.1 (154) 9.4 (204) 10.6 (294)
Ole Miss 97.3 (74) 17.5 (179) 49.9 (180) 19.9 (104) 26.2 (89) 26.1 (83) 31.2 (71) 51.7 (264) 70.7 (145) 7.9 (213) 10.8 (78)
NCAA Basketball: NCAA Basketball-Missouri at Texas A&M Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Attack the paint

There’s no way Ole Miss is going to let Amari Davis kill them from mid-range less than a month after his 10-10 performance, but it wasn’t just Davis that hurt the Rebels in Oxford. The Tigers put three additional players (Kobe Brown, Javon Pickett and Ronnie DeGray) in double digits that night, shooting 63.6 percent as a whole from two-point range. While another Davis gem wouldn’t hurt, it’ll be imperative that at least two other players take advantage of the Rebels’ soft middle.

When Ole Miss has the ball...

Ole Miss Offense vs. Missouri Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Ole Miss 104.1 (141) 17.7 (208) 49.2 (205) 18.7 (180) 27.2 (219) 29.3 (198) 33 (208) 49.2 (199) 70.8 (194) 9.7 (240) 10 (246)
Missouri 101.2 (149) 17.6 (196) 50.7 (218) 18.4 (193) 31.6 (299) 34.6 (283) 35.8 (282) 48.9 (150) 68.8 (62) 12.1 (57) 9.7 (144)
NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Avoid foul trouble and force one-and-dones

Believe it or not, we’ve reached a point in the season where another team has a worse offense than Missouri’s. Mississippi ranks 141st in offensive efficiency and no higher than 180th in any one category. Playing sound man defense should be enough to keep the Rebels in check, especially if the Tigers can avoid getting into foul trouble, something that has come back to bite them very recently. The Tigers also held a +19 margin on the defensive glass in January, something that would behoove them on Saturday.

KenPom predicts...

Missouri 65, Ole Miss 64 | No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Missouri is favored in this game, maybe the first that’s happened since Dec. 7 against Eastern Illinois at home. The presence of Joiner will make things tough on the Tigers, who were able to simply outrun the rudderless Rebels in January. But the Rebels also only have one true road win on the season — against LSU on February 1 — and are now missing yet another key piece of their back court. Assuming they keep with their recent surge in quality, Missouri should be able to get to double digit wins at Ole Miss’ expense.