Ole Miss was beaten soundly for the second time in five days in its 87-73 loss to Iowa State on Saturday.
The Cyclones are one of the best offensive teams in college basketball, and the numbers they put up in The Pavilion bordered on unrealistic. Iowa State shot 69 percent from the field for the game. It missed a total of six shots in the second half, one of which came in the game’s final minute with the result firmly in hand. It was 20-of-26 from the field in the second half. At one point, the Cyclones made 13 consecutive shots as they ballooned their lead to as large as 16 points.
“When I was watching the tape, I thought that of all the teams I have watched in college basketball, I know Duke has the one-and-done guys, and Gonzaga, but that is probably the best put together offensive team in college basketball,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “Everybody can pass. They make you pay for everything. I thought we had some runs in us, but we just had too many breakdowns. The defensive field goal percentage was ridiculous.”
With as well as Iowa State shot the basketball, it was also gifted a lot of looks near the rim without much resistance. Ole Miss played a lot of 1-3-1 zone. The Cyclones moved the ball to each side of the floor quickly and efficiently. It left the Rebels scrambling and often out of position.
“We were locked in in the second half,” Iowa State guard Talen Horton-Tucker said. “We saw that 1-3-1 and were able to get some open looks out of it.”
The Rebels had no answer for Horton-Tucker in particular. He scored 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists. Ole Miss ran a number of different defenders and looks at Horton-Tucker, all of which proved to be futile efforts.
Kermit Davis said he played the 1-3-1 frequently as a bit of a gamble to try to get a good offensive team out of rhythm. The Rebels gambled in the zone often. It worked some in the first half as Iowa State’s 10 turnovers were the equalizer in a 43-38 margin at the break — a game that really had no business being that close given how Ole Miss played. The second half, those risks did pay off and instead resulted in uncontested looks at the rim for the Cyclones.
“We had to take some chances,” Kermit Davis said. “I thought we had some good possessions in it. Then we kind of started scrambling and they’d get us with dribble penetration, and they don’t miss many shots. They shot a good percentage today. Their skill level is so high. It scared me to play it, but I knew we had to do something to get them off balance.”
As good as Iowa State was offensively, Ole Miss shot it poorly on the other end. It went 25-of-69 from the field with just 10 assists on 25 made baskets, a mark that is not conducive to beating any team.
“I missed some pull up jumpers I make in my sleep,” Breein Tyree said. “They just weren’t falling.”
Tyree scored 22 points to lead Ole Miss in scoring, but it came at the cost of a 9-of-22 ratio from the field. The teams both made eight three pointers in the game, but the Rebels took nine more. Iowa State’s looks came at or near the rim. Ole Miss took a lot of perimeter jump shots. Dominik Olejniczak and Bruce Stevens struggled on both ends of the floor. The Rebels have a hard time winning when one or both of them don’t play well.
The same can be said for the entire team in terms of effort level. Ole Miss is a thinly constructed team and if its primary contributors aren’t completely there mentally, the team will struggle.
“I know with our team, with where we are and how many guys we have, in this league, if we are not a premium, maximum effort we have no chance,” Kermit Davis said. “We have to fight to get to maximum effort more than anybody.”
Ole Miss is now faced with coping its first 0-2 week. The Rebels are 1-3 since earning a top 25 ranking. A road game at Florida awaits before Mississippi State comes to Oxford next weekend. How the team responds and whether or not it prevents this recent slump from morphing into a substantial slide remains to be seen.
“We have to have short memory,” Kermit Davis said. “We have to have good practices and bounce back. We haven’t been very good this week. That is for sure.”