We’ll get the first real measuring stick of the season for Ole Miss, as they head to Brooklyn to take part in the Barclay’s Classic. Ole Miss will play Georgia Tech today at 3:30 p.m. and then play either Penn State or St. John’s Saturday.
Looking at Georgia Tech, they enter this tournament at 5-1, with their only loss coming to Dayton 82-72. They also knocked off expected SEC bottom feeder Georgia in Athens, 80-71.
Possibly their worst game of the season came in a victory over North Carolina A&T, where the Yellow Jackets trailed by four at half and by nine with 13:43 left but came back to win, 78-71.
But comparing scores and looking at close victories over lesser opponents are not good measures of a team’s capabilities.
Ole Miss will face their first dangerous post player when they take on Georgia Tech, who has two quality scorers in the paint.
They start with a 6-foot-11 center in Daniel Miller, who has been killing it in the post this season. Through the Jackets first five games, Miller had scored 1.44 points per possessions on post ups, per Synergy Sports. He destroyed Dayton in the post because Dayton elected to front him to deny him the ball. When Georgia Tech’s guards were able to get passes over the fronting defender, Miller made easy work of the slow rotating Dayton defenders and went on to have his best game of the season with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Other than beating Dayton’s fronts, he has shown one go-to move this year – a simple turn over his shoulder into a jumper. And he has been very effective in knocking down that shot this season.
Miller hasn’t even been the most efficient post player for Georgia Tech, however.
Kammeon Hosley, who is 6-foot-8, has scored 1.8 points per possession on post ups through five games. He has shot 7 of 8 on post ups and is drawing a foul on 30 percent of possessions. He has a very good spin move – although he might get called for hooking his defender on his spin – that has allowed him to get very easy looks.
Overall, Georgia Tech is the third best post up team in the country at 1.35 points per possession. But Ole Miss will be the toughest interior defense that Georgia Tech will have faced. Aaron Jones has been excellent in post defense, and Demarco Cox’s size will be a test for Miller and Hosley. It will be good to see how Sebastian Saiz handles either of these players inside, as it will be his first chance to show his post defense at this level.
Georgia Tech’s interior efficiency may be the result of an easy schedule and small sample size. Last season, Miller scored .897 points per possession on post ups and Hosley was at .808. Those are still good numbers for post ups, which are generally less efficient than most other play types (except the dreaded isolation).
Looking into Georgia Tech’s backcourt, they feature a familiar face to SEC teams in point guard Trae Golden. Golden transferred away from Tennessee in the offseason to be closer to his father, and he became immediately eligible to play for Georgia Tech this year.
In two meetings last season, Ole Miss held Golden in check as he scored 18 points on 7 of 21 shooting in both games combined. This year Golden has been good as the Jackets point. He has scored 12 or more points in every game this year. He is shooting the ball well at 47 percent.
He has scored 1.05 points per possession on spot ups and 1.25 in transition.
Last season, Golden’s most common offensive play type was the pick-and-roll. He scored .814 points per possession on 113 opportunities, but this season, he has run just five pick-and-rolls.
Golden leads the Jackets with 14.8 points per game. Their second-leading scorer and leading shot taker is Marcus George-Hunt, who is getting 13 points on 9.3 shots per game.
Georgia Tech’s defense has been excellent this year against the three-play types they have seen the most. Opponents are shooting just 26 percent on spot ups and 33 percent on pick-and-rolls. But the best number the Jackets have is in transition, where they are allowing opponents to shoot just 41 percent on the fast break.
Fortunately for Ole Miss, whose most frequent play type is running off of screens, Georgia Tech has struggled defending screens, allowing 1.167 points per possession.
Win or lose, Ole Miss will play Saturday against either Penn State or St. John’s.
Penn State is coming off of a 10-21 season, where they won just two conference games in the Big Ten. But they return their two best scorers in D.J Newbill and Tim Frazier, both guards.
Newbill averaged 16.3 points per game last season and shot over 40 percent for the season.
Tim Frazier played just four games last season, as he tore his achilles tendon early in the year. But two seasons ago, he led Penn State with 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per game.
Both Newbill and Frazier are averaging over 18 points per game this season, as Penn State is 5-1, with their best win coming over La Salle and their only loss was to Bucknell.
St. John’s is 4-1. They beat Bucknell by four points early this year, and their lone loss came in their season opener to Wisconsin.
The Red Storm are led on the perimeter by D’Angelo Harrison, who averages 19.4 points per game. On the inside, Jakarr Sampson averages 12.4 points and 8.0 rebounds.
St. John’s possesses one of the best names in all of college basketball in God’sgift Achiuwa. Because of God’sgift, other names on the roster get buried like Sir’Dominic Pointer and Marc-Antoine Bourgault.
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss men’s basketball, follow @Tyler_RSR and @thedm_sports on Twitter.
— Tyler Bischoff