In a game in which easy points were hard to come by for us, the Mississippi Rebels defeated the Gamecocks 66-57 in Oxford. Devan Downey led the 'Cocks with 25 while Chris Warren led Ole Miss with 17. Ole Miss had a double-digit lead for most of the game and, while the 'Cocks threatened to make a game of it a few times in the last five minutes while Ole Miss had difficulties scoring, Ole Miss never allowed us to get within a score. The Rebels would coast to a relativey convincing victory on the strength of a strong defensive effort.
A few thoughts on the game:
- The Rebels made it tough on Devan last night, and with none of our other players outside, to some extent, of Ramon Galloway stepping up to shoulder some of the load, the Rebels showed that Downey can't do it by himself. We simply need more offensive production from guys like Sam Muldrow, Lakeem Jackson, and Brandis Raley-Ross than we got last night to beat good teams like the Rebels.
- I'm not going to blame our current troubles on Darrin Horn, and I don't think you should, either. The guy was dealt a crappy deck this year and deserves more time before we pass judgment on him. However, I do have one criticism I'd like to throw out, and you've heard it here before: I just don't see why we keep giving Evaldas Baniulus so many minutes. I see no evidence that Evka is a better player than Stephen Spinella, and I haven't seen enough of Spinella to know that he's not better than Evka. I have seen enough of Spinella to know that he's better rounded than Evka, and I'd like to get a chance to see more evidence of what he can bring to the table as a shooter. With Evka contributing so little offensively and such a defensive liability, Horn needs to give Spinella a shot. It would be difficult to imagine him spending those minutes worse than he is right now.
- The Rebels seem like a very disciplined, well coached team to me. They handled our press very well, earned easy baskets, and played excellent defense. I was very impressed with this team. They likely don't have the front line to make a deep run, but they're definitely a solid mid-range seed group.
That's a wrap on this one. Next up: at Florida on Saturday. The Gators have struggled a bit as of late and I think we can beat them in Gainesville. Defensively, they're a bit of a wreck, so the potential to win a shoot out is definitely there. We need to get this one, as we're beginning to drift awfully close to .500. More later on the Gators.