The Vols took care of Vanderbilt about how I figured they would. Just to be flat-out honest, without Aaron Nesmith on the floor they are a very bad team. While the Commodores most likely just now missed another 3 pointer, it is time for us as Vol fans to look ahead to Ole Miss (what ever happened to the Rebel Black Bear non-sense?). Ole Miss has always irked me a little bit (for details, please see my preseason preview from this past fall), so I am hoping we can send them home from Knoxville with another L on their schedule. So let’s take a look at the Rebels’ program, who we can expect to have good games against the Vols, and then take a look at what we learned from Vanderbilt and how I see this game shaking out.
Peyton’s Plan B
School: University of Mississppi
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
Coach: Kermit Davis (2nd Season)
2019-2020 Record: 9-8 (0-4 SEC)
2018-2019 Record: 20-13 (10-8 SEC)
Last Game Against Tennessee: 2/27/2019: Tennessee won a close one in Oxford behind 25 points from Grant Williams, Tennessee 73, Ole Miss 71.
Notable Former Basketball Player: Don Kessinger- While he is most widely known for his MLB career with Cubs (he later played for the Cardinals and White Sox- what a trio of teams to have played for) as a 6 time All Star, Kessinger was also a FORCE on the floor for the Rebels in the ‘60s. He was a 3x All-SEC selection (he only played 3 years of varsity basketball) and averaged 22 points per game in his college career.
The Run-Through Rebels
This year’s version of Ole Miss basketball is looking much worse than the team we saw in 2018-2019. With one NBA talent leaving (Terence Davis- ’18-’19 2nd Team All-SEC/Toronto Raptors, undrafted) and a trio of players transferring, it is no surprise that Kermit Davis is struggling to find success with this squad.
While the team may not be having success, one player definitely is: Senior guard Breein Tyree. If it seems like you’ve heard that name a time or two, it is because Tyree has been a contributor in Oxford since he stepped on campus. Tyree is having his best season as a Rebel, currently averaging 18.9 points, 2.9 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per contest. He is also recently coming off a career high 36 points against LSU, and has averaged 29.3 points over his last three. Tyree is no doubt on a hot streak, and Tennessee will have to find someone to slow him down.
While Tyree is definitely the star for Ole Miss, the Rebels have a pretty balanced scoring starting five, as the others all hover around 10 points per. The player that may pose the biggest problem for U.T. though (aside from Tyree, of course) is 6’10” center Khadim Sy. There is a silver-lining with facing Sy, as I will get to in a second, but his height will definitely be a factor against an undersized Tennessee frontcourt. He is only averaging 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds, but the Vols have shown all season that they struggle playing against size. While I personally don’t think he will beat us alone, be sure to watch for him. If he does happen to have a career game against the Vols (we all know that “Battered Vol Syndrome” allows us to realize that isn’t impossible), we are much less likely to win.
What We Learned at Vanderbilt
One of the biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s 66-45 victory over Vanderbilt was the fact that Jordan Bowden played a much more aggressive game than he has as of late. While he is still struggling from 3 (he has only hit 4 of 32 3pt attempts in conference play, 8%) his willingness to switch up his play and attack the basket gives me hope we may see him have more of an impact on the scoresheet in the future. That is something the Vols desperately need. While some of it may be due to the fact he was playing against Vanderbilt, it doesn’t change the fact that he saw the ball go through the net, which is big for the confidence of any basketball player who is struggling.
I also think that I am going to move forward with the assumption that our post-players are playing the best they are collectively possible of playing. While, again, it was against Vandy, they didn’t play a perfect game, but they also didn’t do anything that just made me shake my head. It is obvious it is a weakness of this team on paper and where total skill is concerned, but they have still anchored us, especially on the defensive end.
This is, to date, the most difficult game I have had to pick. On paper, the Vols are the better team, and after all, the Rebels are 0-4. My hang-up comes from the fact that Ole Miss has such a potent offensive threat in Breein Tyree. I 100% believe he is capable of beating us single-handedly, much like Jodie Meeks did in 2009. If we let him get more than 20 points, I think we are cooked.
One thing we have going for us is size, which as I have mentioned a couple of times this season, is something we have shown we can take advantage of. While Sy is 6’10”, the silver lining I alluded to earlier about playing against him is that he is foul prone and only averages playing around 20 minutes per contest. He doesn’t block a lot of shots, nor grab a ton of boards, which makes his size… a non-factor. BUT, as I said, if he does have any semblance of a career game, we are definitely in trouble.
The SEC has been tough to predict, so I won’t feel too bad about messing this one up if I happen to. I think the Vols slow Tyree down enough that we win 66-60. Again, this is a game with so many small nuances that it is tough to envision how it all plays out. Should I be correct and the Vols win, we can say we beat a tough team, though their record may not show it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. This game is one I really think could go a long way in either making or breaking the Vols where the post-season is concerned, so be sure to tune in! If we can slow Tyree down, I believe we have a good chance to knock the Rebels to 0-5 in SEC play. The problem is that no one in the SEC has figured out how to do that, yet.
For minute to minute news concerning all aspects of all Volunteer sports, be sure to check out MoreImportantIssues on Twitter (@More_Issues), as well as listening to the podcast on any of the various podcast platforms! Trust me, Landon and Caleb won’t let you down If you’re looking for quality Big Orange talk with a laid-back attitude. Until we meet again, this is Dakota Robertson saying see ya later and Go Vols!
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