Las Vegas | They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Ole Miss, for one, hopes the saying is true. The Rebels played fast and furious against Utah to open the MGM Grand Main Event in Las Vegas around midnight central time Monday night.
Both teams got off to a slow start, from the field, at least. Ole Miss was running like a pack of hungry wolves from the opening tip.
Forcing the issue while in transition can be a good thing when done intelligently, or when you’re the Golden State Warriors.
However, at times Ole Miss was pushing with more of a reckless abandon than a shrewd killer instinct.
But, I’m not here to form a lynch mob over an early season tournament. Ole Miss played fast, and perhaps a little trigger happy, because they were the quicker, more athletic team.
Also, Ole Miss is still working out the kinks on offense, so the rebels rely on athleticism in transition to fuel their mad 40-minute dash.
Ole Miss has a lot of new faces and new roles to work into cohesion, so any sweeping declarations in November would not be wise. Ole Miss lost Sebastian Saiz. On the other hand, they are incorporating two new posts – Dominik Olejniczack and Bruce Stevens.
Olejniczack, a transfer from Drake, sat out last season due to transfer rules, so he is rusty. Meanwhile, Stevens is adjusting to life at the Power-5 level after transferring from Jones County Junior College.
In the back court, Ole Miss is trying to incorporate new faces to pair with some of last season’s key contributors like Breein Tyree, Terence Davis, and Deandre Burnett.
Davis is dealing with the expectations of being the alpha-dog for Ole Miss. Meanwhile, Tyree is adjusting to life as the permanent starting point guard, and Deandre Burnett is dealt with being Ole Miss’ sixth man despite being an All-SEC selection. However, Burnett appears to already be accustomed to his role and is thriving – he scored 21 points against Utah.
Newcomers like Markel Crawford and Devontae Shuler are excellent talents, but will take some time to adjust.
Crawford, a graduate transfer from Memphis, is still getting in sync with his new teammates. Shuler, on the other hand, was a highly recruited high school player from Oak Hill academy. Devontae is adjusting to basketball at the college level just as every other freshman does.
What killed Ole Miss against Utah was three things, but one more so than the others. Utah constantly pulled down Offensive rebounds at crucial point – I say crucial points because Ole Miss ended up with more offensive rebounds than Utah. Also, their offense was a well-oiled machine compared to Ole Miss’ chaos offense.
However, those are dwarfed in significance by the performance of Utah’s Justin Bibbins compared to the performance of Ole Miss’ Terence Davis. Bibbins is an undersized senior guard, but he shot the cover off the ball against Ole Miss.
Bibbins scored 23 points to go with four assists as he played 36 of 40 minutes. Justin was 7-11 from the field and 5-8 from behind the three-point line.
Unfortunately for Ole Miss, Terence Davis had his first bad offensive night of the young season. Davis only tallied 10 points on 3-9 shooting. He was also 1-4 from beyond the arc.
In my opinion, Davis was pressing in Vegas as he settled for a few questionable shots from deep. Davis is at his best when he is attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line.
Andy Kennedy will hope the Terence Davis performance stays in Vegas as it most certainly will. Terence is the best player on this Ole Miss team.