GAME NOTES: The Ole Miss Rebels will close out a two-game road swing on Wednesday night, as they venture to Nashville for an SEC showdown with the Vanderbilt Commodores at Memorial Gymnasium.
Ole Miss has won three of four since opening up SEC play, which includes a nail-biting 75-74 victory at South Carolina on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels have been stellar this season at 12-5 and have played well on the road too (3-2).
Vanderbilt has endured the opposite fate in the league as Ole Miss, losing three of four to dip to 9-7 overall. The Commodores were blown out at LSU on Saturday, 81-58, but now they return home to Nashville there they've won seven of nine.
The Commodores hold a comfortable 74-40 advantage in the all-time series over the Rebels, which includes a 47-7 ledger in home matchups.
After playing through nine lead changes and 12 ties their last time out, the Rebels grabbed the lead late in the second half at South Carolina and dodged a late-second attempt by the Gamecocks to hang on for the one-point win, overcoming a poor showing from 3-point range (5-of-21) and 20 turnovers. With starting forwards Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz both limited by foul trouble, Anthony Perez filled in for a career-high 22 points on 5-of-9 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Marshall Henderson netted 18 points but on just 5-of-17 from the floor, while Jarvis Summers also put up 19 points to go with six assists.
Despite ranking 13th in the SEC in field-goal percentage (.432), Ole Miss still nets a lofty 78.6 ppg by ranking first in the league in both 3-pointers per game (8.2) and 3-point percentage (.377). It's a good thing it is so effective from long range too, because its scoring defense (71.9 ppg) is the league's worse. Henderson pours in 19.2 ppg, good for second-best in the league, and all but 13 of his 75 field goals have come from beyond the arc. Summers (18.1 ppg) boasts outstanding percentages from the field (.516), 3- point range (.534) and the foul line (.785), while Derrick Millinghaus brings 9.9 ppg to the table.
The Commodores were outmatched from the opening tip in their most recent bout, as they fell behind by 10 at intermission before ultimately losing by 23. They were outshot from the field, 48.3 percent to 35.8 percent, and were dominated in the rebounding battle, 48-24. Despite the struggles of most of his teammates, Rod Odom was impressive, shooting 4-of-6 from 3-point range on his way to 20 points. Damian Jones chipped in 16 points and six rebounds, while Dai-Jon Parker scored 10.
Vanderbilt plays stellar defense this season, holding opponents to just 41.3 percent from the field for 68.2 ppg, but unfortunately its scoring offense (69.4 ppg) is barely good enough to support it on a nightly basis. It lives in the red in terms of its rebounding (-0.2) and turnover (-3.0) margins, and it also hinders itself by shooting a lowly 65.5 percent from the foul line. Odom (14.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has taken over the duties as go-to scorer since Eric McClellan (14.3 ppg) was dismissed from the team a few weeks ago, shooting 48- of-105 from long range (.457). Jones (11.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Kyle Fuller (10.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) are also regular contributors.
With Ole Miss trending upwards and Vanderbilt struggling to find its identity in its post-McClellan season, the Rebels should be able to overcome their road surroundings to pick up a strong win.
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