PRINT EDITION GAME COVERAGE
Ole Miss 67, MSU 63
DAY AFTER OBSERVATIONS
As young players for Ole Miss have become more productive and play at a higher level, thoughts immediately turn to how good this team could be if it was completely healthy.
When the season began this was a team that was going to compete for an NCAA tournament bid. Now with back-to-back wins at home against No. 24 Kentucky and at Mississippi State, the Rebels seem like they’d have been a lock to reach that goal.
It’s important to remember how some roles have changed, however. Freshman Terrico White wouldn’t be playing point guard right now if Chris Warren was healthy, and White’s been pretty darn good with the ball in his hands.
This run of recent success has coincided also with improvement from post players Malcolm White and DeAundre Cranston.
Freshman Murphy Holloway has been there all year, and he still provides the energy and effort plays. He had seven rebounds yesterday.
But the extra boost has come from the older guys. Three days after getting 20 points against Kentucky, Malcolm White had a quiet 11 against State. Quiet in the box score, but still a good effort in a game where the Rebels weren’t going to put up big post numbers against one of the nation’s best post defenders, Jarvis Varnado. White still hit 5-of-7 field goals.
The emergence of Cranston as a 3-point threat enables the Rebels to lure a big guy like Varnado out of the lane and create more space in the middle.
None of the post guys alone had monster numbers, but White, Cranston and Holloway combined for 20 points and 16 rebounds. Not a bad day’s work.
Terrico White continues to hit big shot after big shot. He had 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and the baskets seem to come at the most opportune times.
Sophomore Zach Graham is an emerging story as well, a guy called on for more offense who has delivered and is playing through the pain of a partially torn knee tendon.
The sum total of the parts creates a young team gaining confidence, the kind of team you don’t want to face down the stretch.
Gaining that NCAA berth will be a long shot, but there’s a lot of basketball to be played.
Right now this isn’t a team that believes anything is out of reach.