Memphis hosts Ole Miss in regional test. Game preview and other notes.

Memphis will host Ole Miss on Saturday in a significant regional matchup. In this column I’ll break down some key players for both sides and give you some informational nuggets to help you keep your head on a swivel when enjoying this contest.

In addition to a game preview, I’ve also included some thoughts on the season as a whole and give a quick shout out to a player that has impressed me with his hustle and overall performance. Oh, and Memphis extended and offer to a class of 2021 recruit. Maybe by then the Tigers will start getting commitments again…I kid!

Quick Thoughts on the Season to Date

I am currently running a poll over on my Twitter account to gauge the temperature on the Tigers’ fan base after a tough few weeks in NCAA rulings. Check it out give your opinion and I’ll update this article with the results and some of my thoughts once the poll expires.

At this point, with or without James Wiseman, the Tigers are right where most people expected them to be. They are 4-1 win their lone loss to Oregon on a not-so-neutral court. In that loss, the Tigers shot a terrible 17% from three and it’s hard to beat anyone while shooting at that poor of a clip, much less and experienced Ducks squad.

Unfortunately, the trend of poor outside shooting has been consistent for the Tigers all season. In their 5 games, their three point percentages are as follows: 30, 50, 17, 25, and 24. This is not at all what we expected from a roster that returned Tyler Harris and added Lester Quinones and Boogie Ellis. Granted, Ellis went off one game from three, but those types of performances are few and far between. Basketball is a game of streaks and rhythm and the second has been a challenge for Memphis to find, despite their close proximity to Beale Street. Several of Memphis’ wins against lesser competition have been because they just out-muscled their opponents, not necessarily because they were playing smoothly.

Right now, only 22% of the Tigers’ points are coming from behind the arc.

Both the teams who call FedExForum home are playing at speeds well above their respective league averages. The Tigers’ average time of offensive possession is under 14 seconds, which puts them in the top 5 quickest in the nation to get a shot off.

I love the spark that DJ Jeffries is providing off the bench. He is shooting very efficiently and also impacting the game on the defensive end with his versatility and intelligence. In the game earlier this week against Little Rock, he scored 15 points in the first half and was the catalyst on offense in the first frame.

Coach Hardaway will need to work on tightening up the rotation as we move towards some of these bigger non-conference games and conference play. I understand letting 11 guys play against Little Rock, but that won’t fly against the SEC schools on the schedule or the Cincys and Houstons of the world.

Tigers Player Spotlight

This year the most impressive player has been Lester Quinones. Against Oregon he was one of the few guys who didn’t hang his head when Wiseman was forced to the bench with foul trouble. On the contrary, he put his head down and got to work and carried the Tigers through the first half. Quinones is averaging 12p/4.2r/3.4a through five games. Like the rest of the team, he is shooting poor from three — 24% on 5 attempts per game — but he is countering that by also shooting 63% from two on 4.4 attempts. Bottom line is he is finding a way to get things done and impact the game on both ends of the floor. He is dogging whoever he is matched up against on a nightly basis and owns a defensive rating of 85. 

Ole Miss Preview

On Saturday, the reigning SEC COY Kermit Davis will bring his undefeated Ole Miss Rebels up the road to Memphis for their first road game of the season and first matchup against tough competition. With several departing players, Davis lost nearly 30 points and 13 rebounds per game between Terence Davis — who is soaking up some solid minutes for Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors — Bruce Stevens, and Dominik Olejniczak.

The main man for Ole Miss is senior shooting guard Breein Tyree. He is taking 32.7% of Ole Miss’ shots this year. The 6’2’’ senior guard has made huge leaps in each of the last two seasons, jumping from 10.8 points per game in his sophomore season to 17.9 points per game his junior year. He is currently averaging around 14 points per contest for the Rebels.

Devontae Shuler is the Ole Miss point guard and he plays a major role on the team, putting in 13.5 points of his own and averaging almost 3 assists per game.

KJ Buffen 14.3p/8r/1a contributes productive minutes for Kermit Davis. Buffen is the most efficient scorer on the Rebels roster with a 74% EFG and an ORTG of 119. The forward is the best rebounder on the roster as well. Buffen ranks in the top 30 in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, nabbing around 30% of the boards on that end of the floor. These are some very Brandon Clarke-esk numbers for you Grizzlies fans.

Another big man to keep an eye on is Khadim Sy. He is a 6’10” ‘rangy shot blocker’ who has been one of the best newcomers for this Ole Miss Rebels team. He previously played at Virginia Tech, transferred to JUCO, and is now back at the D1 level.

Time for some quick-hitter observations.

The Rebels do not take a lot of three point shots, as less than a quarter of their points come from behind the arc

Through 4 games, Ole Miss has made their money on the defensive end of the floor, holding opponents to a 36.6 EFG%. That’s 22.5% from three and 38.7% from two.

They have 3 players that average over 2 steals per game and as a team own a top 10 steal percentage in the country

Overall, the Rebels defense is stingy, allowing only 52 points per game and own a top 10 defensive rating

All of their previous opponents ranked in the 200 and 300’s on the KenPom scale. This Memphis game will be their first road game and first look at a competitive opponent. 

Damion Baugh, Alex Lomax, and Lester Quinones will need to be solid against Tyree and Shuler while not turning the ball over.

In the post, Precious Achiuwa will need to step up like he did in the Little Rock game and be a beast on the boards, especially on the offensive end. He is shooting terribly from the line so making his shots through contact will be something to look for.

Ole Miss averages 72 points per game on the season and Memphis 86 points. If the Tigers can get out and push the pace and have a good game from three, then that will go a long way in outlasting the Rebels. 

Recruiting

Tigers offered Trey Patterson, 5-star junior from Rutgers Prep in New Jersey. He is a 20 and 10 guy listed at 6’7”. Patterson ranks #34 in the class of 2021 on 247Sports.

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Zak (@BarnBurnerBro) is a native Memphian who covers the Memphis Grizzlies, Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals for The Barn. He spends his free time exploring breweries, restaurants, and leading the Ivan Rabb stan club.


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