Better Know An Opponent: Mississippi

The Gamecocks will try to stop the bleeding on Wednesday night against Ole Miss (7pm ET, , who stayed well in the hunt for an NCAA bid with an overtime victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday evening in Oxford (after which, Marshall Henderson told the media he had better places to be).

As with all of our upcoming games, with the exception of Mississippi State and our first-round SEC tournament game, we’re facing a severe mis-match, and the odds are against the Gamecocks.  We’ll see if the team can bounce off its six-game losing streak and deal the Rebels’ hopes for an NCAA bid a blow.

Team

Four Factors USC O OM D OM O USC D NCAA
eFG 47.1
(237)
46.0
(77)
48.7
(162)
49.5
(218)
48.5
TO% 23.3
(311)
22.1
(71)
15.7
(5)
21.3
(113)
20.3
Oreb% 38.7
(17)
33.1
(225)
35.4
(62)
32.5
(195)
31.9
FTR 36.7
(154)
32.9
(105)
40.0
(64)
44.6
(326)
35.8
Adj. Pace 66.9
(137)
71.2
(14)
66.2
Shooting USC O OM D OM O USC D NCAA
FT% 68.9
(181)
69.2
(171)
69.0
2P% 47.0
(194)
46.6
(142)
48.5
(123)
50.1
(267)
47.4
3P% 31.5
(269)
32.7
(219)
33.8
3PA% 31.8
(206)
34.5
(227)
32.5
(186)
31.1
(110)
33.0

Ole Miss brings a very strong offense into the Colonial Life Arena, though you wouldn’t know it looking at their shooting percentages.  Rather, Ole Miss gets it done with the peripherals – they don’t turn the ball over, they grab a ton of their own misses, and they get to the line.

The Gamecocks will be grateful that Ole Miss doesn’t bring shooters, though there’s only so far that goes.  As we noted on Twitter on Monday, defensively the Gamecocks have done a decent job this season of forcing teams into a fair number of 2-point jumpers (38 percent of opponents’ shot have been these, the shots that return the lowest expected number of points), and have been half decent at preventing 3-pointers.

However, on the 32 percent of opponents’ shots taken at the rim, the Gamecocks’ opponents are shooting 72 percent (that’s 6th worst in the nation), which is 11 percentage points higher than the 61 percent NCAA average.  And this doesn’t account for the defense’s horrid FTR, which comes in large part from fouls when trying to defend the interior.  Our complete inability to defend on the inside if what’s killed us this year.

So, how does that translate to Ole Miss?  Well, the Rebels only take 29 percent of their shots at the rim, though they make 67 percent of those.  As we noted, they’re not a great shooting team.  What kills you is that they get lots of shots by grabbing rebounds and avoiding turnovers, and they get to the line.  It’ll be up to the Gamecocks to clamp down on these non-shooting areas if they want half a chance at winning.

Carolina will also be in an interesting spot as they try to turn Ole Miss’ greatest strength – avoiding turnovers – into something of a weakness.  In SEC Games, the Gamecocks are forcing turnovers on 23.2 percent of possessions, which if it were the case over the entirety of the season, would move them from the low 100s into the top 40 nationwide.  However, the Rebels’ 15.7 percent turnover rate in all games (5th nationally) is being pulled down by their preposterous 15 percent flat rate in conference.

That said, Ole Miss doesn’t necessarily become more or less efficient based solely on turnover rate – they’ve actually lost two of their three games where they turned the ball over on less than 10 percent of their possessions (against Indiana State and Kentucky, though in each instance, the blame sits more with their defense than offense).

On the other side of the ball, Carolina has to find a way to score the basketball.  They’ve done a terrible job of shooting from both 2P and 3P in SEC play (last in the conference in SEC games), and a large part of that comes from their inability to get shots at the rim, taking only 26 percent of their shots from there.  It’s hard to score when you can’t get free throws, close shots, or 3-pointers, and the Gamecocks are taking way too many 2-point jumpers right now.

Another area that doesn’t show up in the numbers above is how far our offensive rebounding has fallen – we’re only grabbing 32.7 percent in SEC games, which is barely above the NCAA average.

That said, Ole Miss doesn’t bring a particularly strong defense to Columbia.  The Rebels aren’t very good at defending the shots you actually defend – 2s.  While Carolina hasn’t done a great job of making those this season, there’s nothing about Ole Miss that Carolina can’t overcome on this side of the court – we can rebound with them, avoid turnovers (as we’ve continued to do a decent job of in SEC play), and get to the line a little bit.

Individual

GAMECOCKS
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Lakeem Jackson
75.3
16.6
58.9
9.3
16.1
15.2
23.6
17-53
93-159
2-4
Eric Smith
66.7
16.9
40.5
1.2
5.4
21.7
29.3
28-41
37-92
15-55
Bruce Ellington
50.1
23.0
38.7
3.2
8.1
15.1
27.0
32-51
44-113
13-51
Mindaugas Kacinas
50.0
15.8
54.9
9.8
13.2
8.2
28.4
30-44
46-75
3-17
Brenton Williams
49.8
22.0
53.8
1.1
7.9
13.2
17.8
61-73
40-84
34-85
Brian Richardson
48.2
21.5
49.7
4.5
10.4
12.7
16.5
30-41
35-83
36-96
RJ Slawson
41.6
17.3
44.4
12.9
13.5
7.3
22.9
34-48
35-74
3-15
Michael Carrera
41.4
26.8
49.0
14.4
25.8
7.4
20.7
64-85
64-133
5-13
Damien Leonard
34.7
17.2
34.3
5.9
10.7
6.8
22.7
13-17
13-42
14-57
Laimonas Chatkevicius
18.2
24.5
47.2
11.3
18.4
10.9
27.7
16-28
24-50
1-4
REBELS
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Marshall Henderson
76.2
26.7
51.4
1.7
9.2
10.7
13.2
118-135
46-98
94-266
Murphy Holloway
74.8
24.7
53.3
11.0
21.2
8.1
16.4
71-133
144-265
1-8
Reginald Buckner
69.2
17.1
60.6
12.5
17.3
4.9
16.8
73-117
86-142
0-0
Jarvis Summers
66.7
19.3
42.2
1.4
5.7
24.7
14.6
64-93
63-156
12-36
Nick Williams
56.4
18.1
44.8
2.1
8.3
12.6
9.2
31-36
53-124
25-78
Ladarius White
49.6
16.9
49.0
1.8
10.5
7.8
22.3
17-27
40-94
20-49
Aaron Jones**
33.3
11.1
56.5
10.8
14.3
5.5
14.9
8-16
29-51
1-3
Derrick Millinghaus
30.1
22.3
37.1
2.0
7.7
21.9
16.4
34-45
24-69
10-36
Anthony Perez
15.2
19.4
38.0
9.2
13.9
10.1
20.5
9-12
10-22
5-24
Martavious Newby
13.0
20.6
32.1
8.5
13.8
12.9
22.6
11-13
11-22
1-17
Terry Brutus
10.7
10.4
60.0
10.3
11.8
0.0
24.6
1-4
9-15
0-0

**Out for the year

Overall, this is a game where you start to think Carolina could have some success in if things break the right way.  Ole Miss is by no means a small team, but they don’t have anyone who stands higher than 6’9″.  More importantly, the type of guy who could kill us – Reginald Buckner, who takes two-thirds of his shots from the rim – only takes 13 percent of the shots taken by Ole Miss when he’s on the floor.  So that’s an early bullet dodged, though his FTR of 82.4 ranks 10th in the nation, and comes from a position where the Gamecocks are incredibly foul-prone.  Expect to see him spend most of his evening at the line, where he hits 62 percent of his shots.

Ole Miss does most of its damage through its two most famous players – Marshall Henderson and Murphy Holloway.  Holloway will be familiar to Gamecock fans, even if many have only seen him play the times that Carolina and the Rebels have squared off.  A 6’7″ senior from Irmo, Holloway is a prsence in the post, hitting 54 percent of his 2s, rebounding over 10 percent of Ole Miss’ misses (and over 20 percent of their opponents’ misses), and getting to the line with frequency with an FTR of 48.7 (though his 53 percent FT% limits that efficiency).  He’s a force down low, and it’ll take a great effort from Carrera or Jackson to limit him.

While Holloway does his damage on the inside, Henderson is primarily a long-ball shooter.  He’s taken 73 percent of his FGAs this year from 3, and buried those at a 35 percent rate.  For a guy who takes so many shots from downtown, he actually gets to the line a decent amount, where he hits shots at an 87 percent rate.

Guard Jarvis Summers rounds out the group of four players who play major minutes for the Rebels.  His strength comes from ball-handling – he only turns the ball over on 14.6 percent of his possessions (which is outstanding for a guard who isn’t a spot-up shooter) and distributes assists on almost a quarter of the buckets his teammates make while he’s on the court.  We have a good match-up in that Bruce can give him issues, but Bruce has had some bad games along with the good defensively in the last few outings, so we’ll need his best effort tonight to have a chance.

Ole Miss rounds out its 8-man rotation with White, Williams, Brutus, and Millinghaus.  White is the most likely to start alongside the first four players – a 6’6″ sophomore who frankly doesn’t do anything particularly scary on the offensive end, though he has hit 41 percent of his 3PAs this season in a limited 49 attempts.

Nick Williams is a 6’4″ senior who is the other primary outside scoring threat, hitting 32 percent of his 3s on 25-78 shooting.  Like so many of the Rebels, what stands out is his shockingly low turnover rate, especially given the number of 2PAs he has taken (which is to say, he’s not simple a catch-and-shoot guy).  He’s a reminder that even if you don’t do anything else great, simply retaining possession for your team is a skill in and of itself, especially if you can be otherwise averagely efficient.

Millinghaus and Brutus are both freshmen seeing limited minutes, though Brutus’ playing time has come on of late, in part because of the season-ending injury to sophomore Aaron Jones.  Millinghaus, a 5’10” guard, has been a very weak scorer for Ole Miss this year, only hitting an eFG of 37 percent, though his assist rate is over 20 percent.  For Brutus, the 6’6″ freshman does a decent job rebounding, but hardly shoots when he’s on the court, so should be considered more of a respite for whoever guards him (though he grabs rebounds at a decent clip).

On our end, Carrera will be critical to hopefully pushing a rebounding advantage on both ends of the court.  While he didn’t have his best outing against Alabama (the problem down there was clearly turnovers, as Carrera committed four while only getting off one shot.), there’s no reason to think that’s not an aberration, and that he can’t come back out and be effective against a relatively short Rebels front-line.

It’ll be interesting to see who joins him, given how wildly our minutes have varied of late.  Given Carrera commits 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes (not to mention Slawson, who comes in at 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes), and given Ole Miss’ ability to get to the free throw line, I’d expect to see all of our front-court guys get opportunities to play, with whoever can do the best job defensively earning the right to continue playing as the game goes along.

In the back-court, the only thing that seems certain is that Ellington and Smith will both play significant minutes.  Bruce played one of his best games against Alabama, going 5-12 from the field and grabbing four rebounds, along with two blocks and three steals.  His usage rate of 21 percent was one of his lowest of the season, and falls closer to where I think he needs to be for us to be effective, as he simply cannot score efficiently enough when using over 25 percent of our possessions.

Smith also had a decent outing in Tuscaloosa, scoring ten points on 4-6 shooting, and only committing two turnovers.  If we can get productive minutes from both he and Ellington, there’s a decent chance we can score some against the Rebels.  As we noted above, a lot of their defensive efficiency comes from things they don’t control – opponents’ hitting a low percentage from 3 and from the free throw line.  Given their willingness to let teams shoot from outside, a big game from Brian Richardson or Brenton Williams out there (how many times have I said that this year?) might turn the tide for the Gamecocks.

Predictions

KenPom: L 79-68 (18% chance of victory)

TeamRankings: 30% chance of victory

Vegas: Ole Miss by 6

There’s some reason for optimism coming into the evening, as we mentioned above, but it’s still a game against a team that’s clearly better than us, and will come into the gym knowing they can’t afford many slip-ups if they want to play in the big tournament come March.

Frankly, if the back-court along with Jackson and Carrera can give us the type of games they’re capable of, we just need our remaining guys to give good minutes when they’re in to give us a shot offensively.

On the other hand, our defensive production likely comes down to finding a way to force turnovers from Buckner.  When we’ve been successful against guys like him in the post, it’s come from that type of activity – while we couldn’t stop Jarnell Stokes shooting, we did force him into six turnovers, which ultimately limited his efficiency.

All in all, it’s the type of game that can be one, but will require one of our better efforts on the season.  Martin says he saw reason for encouragement in our last 30 minutes against the Tide.  Will it carry over?

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About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
This entry was posted in 2012-13 Basketball, Better Know An Opponent, Ole Miss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Better Know An Opponent: Mississippi

  1. Pingback: Gamecocks finally get it right, beat Ole Miss 63-62 |

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