More pre-tip reads before the Gamecocks and Rebels meet in Columbia, where Carolina has gone 9-1 all-time against Ole Miss (7:00 p.m. EST, Gamecock IMG Sports Network):
On Ole Miss: Head coach Andy Kennedy can set Ole Miss' career record for wins Wednesday with his 145th. For all his accolades, though, one thing has eluded Kennedy in his seven seasons in Oxford: an NCAA Tournament appearance. That seemed a foregone conclusion three weeks ago when the Rebels started a school-best 6-0 in SEC play. Since then, Ole Miss has dropped four of six to fall to 19-6, 8-4 SEC. An 84-74 overtime win against Georgia righted the ship Saturday, but the Rebels still enter Colonial Life Arena precariously close to the bubble.
Martin says that Kennedy "has this ability to instill unbelievable confidence in his players. He does a phenomenal job of getting players shots from areas where they're really efficient." The Rebels' 79.5 points per game ranks 5th in the nation, and their 71.2 possessions per game only trail Arkansas for fastest tempo in the SEC. Guard Marshall Henderson, a charismatic, unrepentant three-point gunner, leads the SEC in scoring (19.7 ppg). Senior Murphy Holloway, whose odyssey to (and from) South Carolina has been well-documented, leads all active SEC players with 34 double-doubles. Point guard Jarvis Summers binds the offense with an SEC-leading 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio, and senior Nick Williams, a player Martin once recruited, has a versatile game that can fill any role.
Look for Ole Miss to base most of its action off screens for Henderson and isolations for the left-handed Holloway. A living, breathing definition of a "volume shooter," Henderson has attempted 266 three-pointers, the third-highest total in the nation - and when he's on, he's not afraid to tell everyone about it. Key for Henderson: force him to catch with his body facing the sideline or opposing baseline. If Henderson is allowed to pivot into his shot, he can be deadly. The Gamecocks can also "take out his legs" by making him chase and work in the defensive halfcourt.
Ole Miss junior guard Marshall Henderson (left) scored 14 points in the final 3:36 of regulation to send the Rebels' game vs. Georgia into overtime. Ole Miss won 84-74.
Holloway, though, could be a prime candidate for touches. The Columbia, S.C., native has eight double-doubles in Ole Miss' wins, but only one in the Rebels' losses. He's athletic, active, a powerful offensive rebounder, and armed with a nifty spin dribble.
Paint Job: At their morning shootaround in Tuscaloosa, Gamecock coaches drilled their players to sprint hard around screens. Alabama had ridden a vise-grip defense to a #12 national ranking in points allowed (57.3 ppg). Any lapse in energy, and the Tide would choke the life out of the Gamecock offense.
Carolina lost 68-58, but Martin praised his team for swinging the ball quickly, running good offense, and getting high-percentage looks in the halfcourt. The Gamecocks scored 34 points in the paint - accounting for 17 of their 23 field goals - for their highest percentage of the season.
Opponent Pts. in Paint Total Points Percentage
1. Alabama 34 58 58.3%
2. Arkansas 40 75 53.3%
They'll need that discipline against the Rebels. Ole Miss is one of a handful of major-conference schools that ranks in the Top 50 nationally in both Steal Percentage (18th, 7.9%) and Block Percentage (45th, 7.6%). Ole Miss' guards gamble for steals, namely because Holloway, senior Reginald Buckner (296 career blocks, 6th SEC history), and 6'9" reserve Chris Perez all lurk as rebounding and shot-blocking forces underneath. Ole Miss forward Reginald Buckner (left) leads the Rebels in blocks. Ole Miss' elite, athletic length allows its guards to play for more steals.
They'll need that discipline against the Rebels. Ole Miss is one of a handful of major-conference schools that ranks in the Top 50 nationally in both Steal Percentage (18th, 7.9%) and Block Percentage (45th, 7.6%). Ole Miss' guards gamble for steals, namely because Holloway, senior Reginald Buckner (296 career blocks, 6th SEC history), and 6'9" reserve Chris Perez all lurk as rebounding and shot-blocking forces underneath.
Ole Miss forward Reginald Buckner (left) leads the Rebels in blocks. Ole Miss' elite, athletic length allows its guards to play for more steals.
Return of Brenton: In addition to his 14 points, junior Brenton Williams collected four steals in 26 minutes against Alabama. Williams had five steals in his first 162 minutes of SEC play.
With the Rebels playing an uptempo pace, the Gamecocks will need to have their scorers ready. Williams might need a repeat of his performance in Tuscaloosa.
And Finally... Trivia time: How many Venezuelan native play in NCAA Division I?
Two of them will meet at Colonial Life Arena Wednesday. Freshman Michael Carrera (Anzoategui, Venezuela) will oppose Ole Miss freshman forward Anthony Perez, a native of Cumana, on the northern coast.
The country of Venezuela will have 40% of its NCAA Division I players on the floor Wednesday.
Carrera isn't the only Gamecock with a connection to Perez: freshman Mindaugas Kacinas was his teammate at Word of Life Traditional School in Wichita, Kan.
Our pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. EST on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. See you at CLA. -AD--