The Ole Miss Men’s Basketball team will search for their first conference win on Tuesday when they face Tennessee on the road.
The Rebels have dropped four straight entering the contest, including their first three conference games. They have received little help from the bench this season, with Breein Tyree, Blake Hinson, Devontae Shuler and KJ Buffen accounting for nearly 70% of the team’s total points. Starters also recorded 73 of Ole Miss’ 76 points at home against LSU on Saturday.
Injuries also plagued the Rebels in the opening games of conference play. Forward Luis Rodriguez has been out since November and might not return at all this season. Tyree suffered a back injury during practice and was forced to sit out against Florida while Khadim Sy missed out because of a coach’s decision.
Hinson and Buffen attempted to carry the team in that game but came up short, unable to replace Tyree’s scoring presence. Guard Bryce Williams missed the first two conference games before returning to play 18 minutes off the bench on Saturday. Forward Sammy Hunter sat out Saturday’s game against LSU but no injury was announced.
Already thin and now depleted, Ole Miss is relying heavily upon Tyree’s scoring to carry them through games. He leads the SEC with 29.7 points per game in conference play while no other player averages even 22 points. He is coming off a career-high 36 points on 60% shooting from the field. He was 3-6 from beyond the arc against the Tigers and a perfect 9-9 from the FT line where he shoots 90%, good for fourth in the SEC.
Shuler’s scoring has been down in recent games after tying a season-high with 20 points at home against Tennessee Tech on December 29. He has not scored more than a dozen in a game since then, failing to even reach double digits in his last two outings.
Tennessee enters Tuesday’s matchup with an 11-6 record after defeating Vanderbilt on the road on Saturday. The Volunteers are 3-2 in SEC play and rely heavily on their defense to keep them in games.
The Vols boast a conference-best scoring defense, allowing just 59.6 points per game. They hold opponents to a 38.2 field goal percentage, also tops in the conference. Forward Yves Pons leads the SEC in total blocks with 22. Guard Jordan Bowden and forward John Fulkerson lead the team in scoring with 12.4 and 11.1 points per game respectively.
The Rebels are on the road again after their trip to Knoxville to face freshman phenom and potential No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards and the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens on Saturday.