Rebels fall out of Top 25 after losing three of their last four games

Published 3:09 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

Ever since they achieved their first national ranking in five years, not a lot has gone right for the Ole Miss Rebels.

A 10-game winning streak was snapped in their first game as a ranked team. That was followed by two more losses, all by double digits, that dropped them back out of the Associated Press Top 25.

What had been the hottest team in the Southeastern Conference in early January is suddenly one of the coldest in the waning days of the month. The Rebels have lost three of four overall and are searching for answers in the wake of an 87-73 defeat at the hands of No. 20 Iowa State on Saturday.

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“We’ll bounce back. That team right there, they can beat anyone in college basketball,” Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said of Iowa State. “We’ve got to have a short memory, good practices, get our team back together and really play. We haven’t had a good week for sure.”

Or a good two weeks, really.

Since beating No. 22 Mississippi State on the road on Jan. 12, the Rebels (14-5, 4-2 SEC) have gone into a funk — and the worst part is, it hasn’t been any one glaring weakness that they can point to for a quick fix.

LSU shot 47.4 percent from 3-point range in an 83-69 win over the Rebels on Jan. 15. Alabama only made 38.5 percent of its shots, but grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, scored 20 second chance points, and outrebonded Ole Miss 44-32 overall in a 74-53 rout on Jan. 22. Then, on Saturday, Iowa State shot 69.1 percent from the field.

The only real common thread between the three losses has been opponents making more shots than the Rebels. LSU, Alabama and Iowa State shot a combined 50.1 percent in the three games. Ole Miss was not above 40 percent in any of them.

Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree said a lack of ball movement has contributed to the sluggish offense. Ole Miss only had 16 total assists on 45 made baskets in its last two games. It only had less than 13 in any game once before that.

“I think we have to listen to coach more and move the ball better. That’s why we were winning so many games because a lot of our field goals were coming off of assists,” said Tyree, who scored 22 points against Iowa State. “I had one assist tonight and no rebounds. I have to do better than that.”

Davis agreed, and added that the Rebels’ overall effort seemed slower the past couple of weeks. They’ll have to pick it up to snap out of their slump as they go on the road to play Florida on Wednesday. A rematch with Mississippi State also awaits Saturday in Oxford.

“It’s just one of those things. I just know with our team, where we are, and just how many guys we have in this league, if we’re not at our maximum effort we’ve got no chance,” Davis said. “When that’s not at the max effort against this high level (of a) team, we’re not going to win many games. That’s just something we’ve got to fight at a maximum effort to win the game.”

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About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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