Ole Miss loses to Georgia: 3 takeaways

Published 10:27 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Not much went right for Ole Miss in a 69-47 home loss to Georgia on Wednesday, the second-worst setback of the season for the Rebels. Now Ole Miss is sitting at 1-3 in Southeastern Conference play with another road trip looming Saturday.

Here are three takeaways from the Rebels’ loss:

Ole Miss hurts without Deandre Burnett

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Any team is going to struggle without its leading scorer, and Ole Miss was no different.

Deandre Burnett, the SEC’s third-leading scorer at 19 points per game, played just 13 minutes before rolling his ankle when he came down on J.J. Frazier’s foot. It spelled disaster for a team that’s far too inconsistent in the rest of its backcourt.

To be completely fair, Burnett (1 of 6 from the floor) wasn’t exactly lighting it up when he went down with Georgia already leading 26-15. But Burnett’s absence made defending the Rebels’ other consistent option, Sebastian Saiz, that much easier for the Bulldogs by collapsing on Saiz with multiple bodies and forcing somebody else to beat them. Right now, Ole Miss can’t.

Cullen Neal and Auburn hero Rasheed Brooks, who combined for 23 points against the Tigers, finished a combined 1 of 12 from the floor. Terence Davis had a team-high 12 points, but most of those came on shots from close range. Freshman Breein Tyree came off the bench to score nine points but was just 1 of 5 from 3-point range as the Rebels shot just 11 percent (2 of 19) from deep.

Burnett’s status for Saturday is uncertain, but if others can’t start knocking down perimeter shots to keep defenses honest, it’s hard to imagine Ole Miss’ offense being all that effective going forward.

Broken glass?

Ole Miss has been one of the better rebounding teams in the SEC all season, even beating Kentucky on the glass in its league-opening loss.

But for the second straight game, the Rebels were beaten pretty significantly on the boards.

Georgia outrebounded Ole Miss 44-34 just four days after Auburn also finished plus-10 on the glass. The Rebels began Wednesday fifth in the SEC in rebounding margin (plus-5.2).

Some of that had to do with the talent on Georgia’s frontline. Saiz and Georgia’s Yante Maten are 1-2 in the SEC in rebounding, making for a frontcourt matchup that was the storyline before Burnett’s injury. Maten (15 points, 11 rebounds) won the battle against Saiz (11 points, three boards), joining teammates Derek Obeide and Juwan Parker to constantly swarm Saiz inside and limit his effectiveness.

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy wondered aloud after the game if it’s because of the competition level rising, but Auburn is last in the conference with a rebounding margin in the red. Maybe it’s just a couple of poor performances that the Rebels can shake off, but Ole Miss needs to create some second chances with as many shots as it’s missing and can’t allow those same opportunities to opponents.

Another opportunity wasted

Georgia entered Wednesday’s game with an RPI of 53, the fourth-highest of any team left on the Rebels’ schedule. It’ll go down as another missed opportunity as Ole Miss continues to try to piece together a resume worthy of NCAA Tournament consideration.

Ole Miss has three top-100 RPI wins but none in the top 50. The Rebels’ best win is still Saint Joseph’s (68), which is trying to keep its head above water in the Atlantic 10.

Saturday is the next chance for Ole Miss to try to improve on that against a South Carolina team sitting at No. 37 in the NCAA’s latest RPI rankings. The biggest opportunity is still coming Jan. 28 against top-ranked Baylor in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge while a trip to Arkansas (41) looms in late February, but those are the only top-50 teams left on the Rebels’ schedule as of now.

In other words, Ole Miss is running out of chances to put a signature win or two on its resume.

Next up: Ole Miss will travel to South Carolina (13-3, 3-0 SEC) on Saturday. Tip is set for 5:30 p.m. CT. The game will be carried on ESPNU.