Down by 15 with under 11 minutes to play, Ole Miss needed to change something. The Rebels couldn’t slow down South Carolina – one of the least efficient offensive teams in the SEC.
So Andy Kennedy rolled out the Rebels 2-2-1 press, and it stopped South Carolina in its tracks.
“Finally, we found something that was working in the end,” Kennedy said. “We got in that half court trap, and I thought it really disrupted them.”
Over the final 10:53, Ole Miss used the 2-2-1 as much as possible, and it resulted in the Gamecocks’ offense dying. In that final stretch, South Carolina was just 2 of 9 from the field and committed seven turnovers. Below, junior guard LaDarius White gets a steal near half court in the 2-2-1 and takes the ball all the way to the basket to pull Ole Miss within two.
While the defense was the key to the comeback, as it even led to easier offensive opportunities, the offense stepped up – notably junior guard Jarvis Summers.
Summers was having his least impactful game. He had just five points when Ole Miss found themselves trailing by 15. But the Jackson native ended up with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting and eight assists. He hit the biggest shot of the game, a three pointer off of a great play that gave Ole Miss the lead.
Then with Ole Miss clinging to a one-point lead, Kennedy drew up the same play, except this time Summers took it to the basket and got a layup.
There’s a lot going on in this play, but essentially Ole Miss ran a lot of screens to get senior guard Marshall Henderson and Summers open looks.
Ole Miss has set up its usual baseline screens for Henderson, but Henderson doesn’t come free, so Summers doesn’t force the ball to corner.
Instead, he dribbles back out, and Ole Miss gets into one of its favorite sets – horns. (Note: Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones have switched sides.)
Summers is going to run a pick-and-roll with Saiz. The intent here is for Summers to get going to the basket and force South Carolina to either give Summers the open lane or help off of Henderson in the corner. But South Carolina switches the screen. This means there is no lane to drive, and Summers has to reverse it Jones, who swings it over to White.
Now, two things are going to happen. Henderson is coming off of a screen to the near corner for a three. At the same time, Summers is getting a down screen to pop open.
White decides to give it back to Summers, and now Jones is going to set a ball screen. Remember that South Carolina switched an earlier screen with Summers and Saiz, so the two post players are defending the pick-and-roll.
Michael Carrera does a good job defending Summers’ drive, but it isn’t good enough. Summers – who is the second most efficient player off the pick-and-roll in the SEC – finishes the layup and gives Ole Miss a three-point lead.
It is a brilliant design that has multiple options for the top two scorers on the team. If you notice, it is set up the same as Summers’ three that gave Ole Miss the lead.
On the three, Ole Miss did not run the initial baseline screens for Marshall, but went straight to the horns set.
And to finish off South Carolina, Ole Miss got an and-one layup from Jones, who has struggled finishing near the basket all season.
“He made a layup! He made a layup! Did y’all get that on tape? I want to show him that,” Kennedy joked. “For him to be able to finish that down the stretch was huge.”
It was an awful first 30 minutes against one of the bottom-feeders of the SEC, but down the stretch, Kennedy found the right defense, and the players executed a drawn-out play. The result was a comeback win and a 6-2 SEC record.
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— Tyler Bischoff