Oxford, Miss – A highly anticipated basketball season tipped off Friday night in Oxford. Ole Miss played host to UL-Lafayette, who they coincidentally play in football on Saturday.
Andy Kennedy is now in his twelfth season as head men’s basketball coach for the University of Mississippi. In Kennedy’s twelve seasons, Ole Miss has won twenty games ten times, and even won the SEC tournament.
However, the 2017 team showed glimpses Friday as to why they are the most talented team Andy has ever had at his disposal. Ole Miss routed UL-L 94-76.
Five Rebels scored in double digits – Terence Davis (21), Deandre Burnett (17), Devontae Shuler (14), Marcanvis Hymon (12), and Breein Tyree (10) – and two others had at least 9 points – Markel Crawford and Bruce Stevens.
Stevens, Burnett, and Shuler all came off the bench. The three combined for 40 points, which is all the bench points Ole Miss scored.
Stevens and Shuler are both newcomers. Shuler was a highly-touted high school recruit, while Stevens is a juco product.
The guard play for Ole Miss was phenomenal against UL-Lafayette. The backcourt phenoms tallied 71 of Ole Miss 94 points, which is 75.5% if you are into that sort of thing.
Terence Davis was his typical outstanding self, while Deandre Burnett was his usual jolt-of-offense-off-the-bench self.
Breein Tyree and Markel Crawford struggled shooting the ball somewhat. The two were a combined 6 for 18 (1 of 7 from behind three).
Devontae Shuler, however, was phenomenal. The freshman phenom erupted with 14 points off the bench on 5 of 7 shooting. Shuler knocked down 4 out of 6 three-point attempts.
Many feel Shuler will be a star in Oxford, and he backed up the notion Friday night. Some believe he will start by the time SEC play arrives, but he and Deandre Burnett coming off the bench together looked like a nightmare combination for opposing defenses.
As for the big men, Marcanvis Hymon and Bruce Stevens combined for 21 points. Domenik Olejniczack, the starting center, added two points. The frontcourt combined for seven blocks in total.
As a team, Ole Miss shot 50-8% from the field. The Rebels also held a dangerous Ragin’ Cajuns team to just 36.6% shooting.
Ole Miss will rely on guard play in 2017. Luckily, they have an excellent crop of guards to lean on. If the guards can live up to their hype throughout 2017, Ole Miss will finish well ahead of their preseason projected finish of tenth place in the SEC.
Andy Kennedy’s squad got off to a good start that should propel them into an exhilarating 2017 season.