After a win against San Diego on Wednesday to improve to 4-2, Kermit Davis and his basketball team shift their focus to a Saturday matchup against the 3-3 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at 1 p.m. in The Pavilion. The Warhawks roll into Oxford after snapping a three-game losing streak highlighted by a couple of road games at two top-25 teams in Texas and Michigan State.
Daishon Smith will lead the backcourt for the Warhawks. The senior guard scored a career-high 26 points in his first contest after returning from a hamstring injury that held him out of the lineup during the team’s three-game skid. Paired with Smith is Michael Ertel, the Sun Belt’s reigning Freshman of the Year, who is averaging fewer than 13 points a game.
The Warhawk team is one of the more vertically challenged squads the Rebels will face all year. Their lack of a player on their roster taller than 6 feet 8 inches will likely open up opportunities to exploit them inside with bruisers like Bruce Stevens and the seven-footer Dominik Olejniczak.
Ole Miss will rely on Terence Davis and Breein Tyree, a pair of upperclassmen who fired on all cylinders against a San Diego team expected to finish in the upper echelon of a Gonzaga-led WCC, combining for 42 points. After being shut out in the Emerald Coast Classic championship game versus Cincinnati, Terence Davis got the bad taste out of his mouth Wednesday by dropping 20 points to go along with a career high nine assists.
“I have a strong feeling that this team is something special,” Terence Davis said.
Terence Davis was pleased to see a more balanced offensive effort, as five Rebels finished in double figures. If the Rebels want to sustain the momentum they have built thus far, it is paramount that their focus level remains high when facing mid-major opponents that may not be as talented as Ole Miss. This is something Kermit Davis feels the team didn’t do last time out when his team saw a double-digit lead nearly evaporate in the last two minutes against San Diego.
“Our maturity level, even for older guys, has to get a lot better,” Kermit Davis said.
This matchup will feature a significant talent gap, as KenPom.com has Louisiana-Monroe ranked No. 297 out of 353 Division I programs this season compared to the Rebels who check in at No. 73 on the list. Though the team has won only one of its last four games, the Warhawks went up against premier talent early in the season and are not likely to roll over in front of a Saturday crowd inside The Pavilion.