OXFORD, Miss — Tennessee is coming off back-to-back wins after having a rough stretch in the middle of January. Next up for the boys in orange is Ole Miss. The Rebels are struggling a bit in head coach Kermit Davis' third season in Oxford. With a record of 8-8, the Rebels are looking to move above 500 when Tennessee comes to town on Tuesday. Davis is familiar with the state of Tennessee. He coached at Middle Tennessee from 2003-2018.
Ole Miss on Offense:
The Rebels are scoring just about 69 points per game this year. As a reference, the Vols are scoring about 73 per game. Kermit Davis' teams are rarely shy about shooting 3-point shots and this year's team is no different. The problem this year is that Ole Miss simply isn't great at it. As a team the Rebels are shooting under 28% from three this season, but that hasn't stopped them from trying. They've taken 306 shots from beyond the arc which is 38 more than the Vols, who shoot a much better 34% from deep.
This year Devontae Shuler is probably the Rebels' best option from deep. Shuler is shooting a team-best 34.1% from 3-point range. West Tennessee native Matthew Murrell and Luis Rodriguez are two others who will take threes if presented with the opportunity. But, to put it plainly, if the Rebels are having to rely on deep shots to score, the Vols should be in good shape on Tuesday.
Shuler and others on this Rebel team aren't afraid to drive the ball to the lane. Davis' quick guards can play physical as well, so it's important that Tennessee remains disciplined and works to stay in front of Ole Miss on the perimeter.
Down low, this team is a much better matchup for the Vols compared to teams that Tennessee has played recently. Their key frontcourt players are around 6'8", so the Vols shouldn't have an abnormal amount of trouble on either end if things go according to script.
Ole Miss on Defense:
Ole Miss is giving up 63 points per game so far this season. They can be a little more complex from a schematic standpoint than other teams that Tennessee has played. Davis' teams usually don't stick with just one defense, and this year's Ole Miss team is no different. Frequently they will switch to an extended zone in an attempt to disrupt opposing offenses. Don't be surprised if Ole Miss does this against the Vols. At times this season Tennessee has struggled to shoot the ball. Zone defenses can amplify this problem, so Tennessee could get into some trouble if they aren't able to hit open jumpers.
If and when Ole Miss goes to a zone, Tennessee could attack them in a couple of ways. Shooters like Santiago Vescovi and Victor Bailey Jr. could get some chances from outside. Quick, attacking guards like Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson could also get some looks from outside, but their best action could come from aggressively cutting and driving into the heart of the zone.
Ole Miss can fall asleep a bit down low. What exactly does this mean? If their post players get out of position or opposing teams' guards start getting the attention, Ole Miss has shown the ability to give up some easy looks around the basket. Guys like John Fulkerson, Yves Pons and Olivier Nkamhoua could get some high-percentage chances around the rim if Ole Miss isn't sharp in their front court.
This is a team that Tennessee should beat. Simply put, the Vols are a better, more talented basketball team. However, this is a road game and you never know how hot the Ole Miss shooters could get. If things go according to how they look on paper though, Tennessee has a great opportunity to build off the momentum they created at the end of January.
Tennessee plays at Ole Miss Tuesday at 7:00 PM on ESPN2