A rested Ole Miss set to host No. 11 Missouri

Published 4:41 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Oxford was hit with two winter storms over the last five days.

It got so cold that Matt Insell had to wear a beanie during practice, inside the Pavilion.

The snow, ice and frigid temperatures affected most of the community’s daily routine over the holiday weekend but Insell and his staff made sure his team stayed on schedule.

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“We haven’t allowed our players to drive,” Insell said. “We helped them out in terms of getting them food and stuff. It’s been a little bit of an inconvenience for our staff and managers because they’re all having to disperse to go pick them up to get them here. We were able to practice (Tuesday) for about two and a half hours.”

The Rebels (11-6, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) are wrapping up a week-long layoff. After a 76-45 road loss to No. 3 Mississippi State last Thursday, Ole Miss has had the opportunity to catch their breath. The trip to Starkville completed the first quarter stretch of their conference schedule.

Insell gave the team Friday and Saturday off before having what he described as a ‘heated’ three-hour film session of the Mississippi State game on Sunday.

“I challenged them to be smarter basketball players since then,” Insell said. “We’ve done a lot of things off the floor in terms of growing our basketball mind. I’ve given them some homework assignments, watching games. We didn’t practice (Sunday). We watched film and it was a very heated film session from my part in letting them know what our problems were in execution.”

Thursday presents another opportunity to turn the slow start to SEC play around with No. 11 Missouri (15-2, 3-1) coming to town (8 p.m., SEC Network).

The time off was a welcomed break for the team, but for Alissa Alston and Madinah Muhammad it was a chance to get their legs back under them. The duo has played in 95 percent of all Rebel minutes in their first four SEC games (170 total minutes). Alston has played 167 of those minutes (98.2 percent) and Muhammad has been on the floor for 156 minutes (91.8 percent).

When the season began that was not Insell’s plan in terms of minute allotments but when his key senior Shandricka Sessom went down seven games in with an ACL injury, it caused Insell to have to ask a lot of his two starters.

The plan included all three of them playing on the perimeter 90 of the 120 total minutes in a game the three perimeter players would play in a game, or 30 minutes per player. With one-third of his plan lost for the season, it had to be tossed in the trash.

“Shandricka’s injury has made a major reshuffle,” Insell said. “Now, with (Shandricka) out, you’re not trying to make up 30 minutes with all of our other perimeter players. Now you’re trying to make up 60 minutes. (Alston and Muhammad’s) minutes have definitely had to go extremely up. You always want to have two of your three on the court together. It has been a big adjustment.”