Amid a streak of poor play from Ole Miss basketball, the Arkansas Razorbacks will travel to Oxford and square off in The Pavilion on Tuesday night. Having lost their head coach and seven of the last eight games, the Rebels’ confidence is running dry. And for the majority of the season, Ole Miss could count on strong play in front of home crowds at The Pavilion. Now, it seems, nothing can pick this team up.
Arkansas enters this end-of-season SEC matchup at 17-8 on the season, 6-6 in conference play. After slipping on a run of three losses, Arkansas has recovered and won its last two games against Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Coming off of an NCAA Tournament appearance last season, it will be looking to play late into March once again this year.
Arkansas is similar to Ole Miss in the fact that its play tends to live and die by the 3. However, Arkansas is mostly living this year, while Ole Miss is dying.
This season, Arkansas has shot 40.3 percent from deep and leads the SEC.
Conversely, the consistent scorers of Ole Miss have disappeared late in the season. During the current losing streak, Deandre Burnett has shot 27.5 percent from deep, which is more than 10 percent below his marks for the season.
In the previous three meetings between the two teams, Terence Davis and Burnett have accounted for 55.5 percent of the total scoring for the team, and in the last meeting, Davis dropped 30 points alone. He is averaging 13.6 points per game this season and the Rebels will be leaning on him to put up big numbers in this game, especially if Burnett continues his rut from beyond the arc.
While the Rebels’ perimeter defense has been above average this year, they will have their hands full with the Razorbacks’ high-scoring senior guard pair of Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon. Each averages about 18 points per game, and Barford sits second in the SEC in scoring.
In addition, Ole Miss’ five spots Bruce Stevens and Dominik Olejniczak will be presented with a significant challenge in trying freshman forward Daniel Gafford, who is eclipsing Stevens at 11.4 points per game and sending back the sixth-most shots in the SEC with 51.
While Stevens has emerged as a consistent scorer for the Rebels in the latter half of the season, scoring 10.4 points per game on the season as a whole, scoring over Gafford is no small task.
On the end of a tough season in which soon-to-be-former head coach Andy Kennedy has tested out 15 different starting lineups in 25 games, Ole Miss will look for a home win against a hot Arkansas team Tuesday to avoid snowballing into absolute disaster. The only way for the Rebels to secure a win is if the guards can tighten up on defense and recover the hot scoring that was prevalent at the start of the season.