A few notes and thoughts in the aftermath of a well-played 73-66 loss at LSU.
First, junior guard David Huertas went down with what at first glance appeared to be a shoulder injury. He was helped to the bench with 7.4 seconds left in obvious pain. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said the injury was a deep thigh bruise, the extent of which was not immediately known.
About the game: From an Ole Miss perspective you leave this game feeling better about it than you did the 71-61 loss at Vanderbilt last week.
The Rebels played harder and played better. They were more effective for longer periods of time.
At the end of the day it’s still a loss, and it doesn’t bode well with an athletic Tennessee team, the preseason SEC favorite, coming in Wednesday. Ole Miss was 4-4 in the league just two games ago but is in danger of a third-straight loss.
What was the difference? There was more focus and energy at the beginning, especially on the offensive glass. LSU was set on not letting Huertas go off, but the Tigers didn’t block out, and the Rebels beat them to the loose balls in the first half.
Malcolm White, DeAundre Cranston and Murphy Holloway were all active on the boards, led by Holloway’s 11 rebounds.
Holloway had 13 points. He’s a guy that’s going strong to the rack at the very first whiff of an opening. He looks out of control when he takes off, but good things result often. Holloway, like most freshmen, still needs some polish and some judgment.
Graham’s game: The Rebels got more out of sophomore guard Zach Graham. He had just four points and three rebounds at Vanderbilt where he was 1-for-9 from the floor.
But there were opportunities in the lane in Baton Rouge, and that’s where Graham is at his best. Any 3-pointer he drops in his bonus coverage. His game getting inside. When he’s own he does a good job of finishing, but at the least he’s giving the bigs a chance to crash the boards. It was a much better night for Graham. It’s just ironic it was Huertas being helped off at the end, and not Graham, who’s like a house of cards playing on that bad knee.
Terrico White: The print edition game story focused on White’s missed shots rather than his made ones, because that’s where the game turned.
He has been the Rebels’ Superman this year, and the last 10 minutes last night were the first time he has looked mediocre in that role. White couldn’t buy a bucket. LSU did a good job guarding him. He got some OK looks, nothing wide open, but they were shots he’s hit this SEC season.
White is clearly the Rebels’ most athletic player, capable of making shots off the dribble better than anyone else. Last night was a reminder of just how dependent this team is one White and Huertas to get shots. Nobody else creates offense like they do, and it’s harder for Huertas simply because of his quickness and athleticism.
In short, when White isn’t hitting zero in a 10-minute stretch at crunch time, it’s going to be tough for Ole Miss.
Will Bogan: Nice game for White’s backup last night. Bogan looked unsletted at Vanderbilt with three turnovers in eight minutes but protected the ball much better at LSU. It was Bogan who handled the point during the Rebels’ big first-half run to take control of the game as White was on the bench with two fouls over the last nine minutes.
Bogan banked home a 3-pointer in that stretch and finished with three points on 1-for-4 shooting. He made good decisions with his passing and with his other shots, they just didn’t fall.