They don’t take kindly to strangers down in SEC country. Even if your school recently signed a legally-binding agreement to join said conference.
There was certainly a glaring lack of hospitality in Oxford, Mississippi tonight, where the unranked Rebs laid a 64-49 hiding on league newbie No. 10 Missouri in the Tigers’ first inter-league game in Tad Smith Coliseum. Murphy Holloway was the chief offender, hammering the hapless visitors with 22 points, 8 boards, 4 steals and a blocked shot in 31 minutes of play.
Mizzou experimented with a four-guard lineup in the absence of injured forward Laurence Bowers, and it simply Did. Not. Work. Alex Oriakhi has never been an offensive force in his own right, and without his frontcourt partner, he reverted to form, hitting just 2 of 4 shots from the floor and getting to the line exactly never.
Saddled with the entirety of the scoring load, Mizzou’s guard corps imploded, handing out 16 turnovers and shooting 15 for 42 from the floor. All-America candidate Phil Pressey was 0-4 from deep, gave away five turnovers and, like Oriakhi, failed to get to the free-throw line even once. It was an astonishing no-show by one of the nation’s best teams.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is now 2-0 in the SEC and 13-2 overall. With a Kentucky-sized hole at the top of the league standings, Mississippi’s showing in this game is far from meaningless. Andy Kennedy has armed his team with an impenetrable perimeter defense, a tough shot-blocker in Reginald Buckner, and the inside-out scoring duo of Marshall Henderson and Holloway.
The Rebels, having announced their presence with authority, should be in line for a national ranking on Monday. If they continue to play like they did tonight, there could be a few more laurels on the horizon.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.