Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
March 17-23, 2015
- Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday.
- The Rebels fell to Xavier 76-57 Thursday in the NCAA Tournament Second Round to end their season with a record of 21-13.
- Ole Miss is one of only three schools in the SEC (Florida and Kentucky) to advance to the NCAA Tournament two of the last three years.
- Ole Miss moved to 2-0 in WNIT action with a 63-48 win over Georgia Tech in second round WNIT action. Ole Miss is now 22-22 all-time in postseason action and is a perfect 3-0 in WNIT games played at Tad Smith Coliseum.
- The win sets up a rematch with Middle Tennessee, the team that handed Ole Miss its first loss of the season which happens to be coached by Rick Insell, father of Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell.
- Tia Faleru posted her 14th double-double of the season and her 34th career double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds against Georgia Tech. She also reached the 20-point mark for the 18th time in her career and for the first time since scoring 23 in a road win at Auburn on Feb. 19.
- With its two WNIT games, Ole Miss is just one win away from the first 20-win season since 2006-07. Ole Miss, who advances to the third round of the WNIT for the just the second time, will take on the winner of NC State vs. Temple if they should defeat the Blue Raiders.
- Ole Miss¹ 20 assists vs. UT Martin in opening round action are the most for the Rebels in the WNIT and the 80 points are the third most for Ole Miss in WNIT action. Additionally, the 14 steals against Georgia Tech are the most in WNIT action.
- The Rebels went 3-1 this week, including taking 2-of-3 from No. 1 Florida. Ole Miss started the week by rallying in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 7-6. Behind solid pitching and home runs in the first inning of each game, the Rebs continued their winning ways with victories in the first two games against Florida to claim the series.
- Through his first two career SEC starts, Brady Bramlett has allowed just two earned runs in 13.0 innings of work.
- With the series win, Ole Miss has won 12 of its last 18 home series against top-10 teams, dating back to 2003, including a 4-0 record against No. 1 ranked teams. The stretch also included series wins over No. 1 Georgia in 2009, No. 1 South Carolina in 2011 and No. 1 Florida in 2012.
- Ole Miss was 3-0 this week with the senior Orvis in the lineup, including a pair of victories over No. 1 Florida. In the first two weekends of SEC play, Orvis is hitting .421 with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBI for an .895 slugging percentage, all team highs.
- Freshman Will Golsan earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors, first for Golsan in his young Ole Miss career as well as the Rebels' first weekly accolade of the 2015 season
- Golsan led Ole Miss with a .389 average at the plate this week. He helped spark a ninth-inning rally before scoring the game-winning run against UAPB. He also recorded three multi-hit games throughout the week and scored a team-high four runs.
- The Rebels picked up the first SEC win of the season and a series win over nationally-ranked Mississippi State this past weekend.
- The series win over Mississippi State marked the first since the 2010 season.
- It also provided Ole Miss its first series win against a nationally-ranked opponent since the 2009 season (No. 12 Tennessee).
- Ole Miss picked up an 8-7 win in nine innings and a 14-8 win to sweep a doubleheader and claim the series.
- No. 13 Ole Miss won both its SEC matches this past weekend, downing Auburn 4-1 and No. 15 Florida 4-0 to improve to 12-4 overall and 4-1 in the SEC.
- It marked the second win over Florida this season.
- Senior Nik Scholtz went 4-0 in singles and doubles including clinching the win against Florida. He is now 10-3 at No. 1 singles.
- Freshman Gustav Hansson went 3-0 in singles and doubles, including clinching the doubles point against Auburn in a tiebreaker.
- Junior Stefan Lindmark also went 3-0 in singles and doubles, clinching both the doubles point and the match against Auburn. He improved to 9-3 at No. 2 singles.
Track & Field
- Led by freshman sprinter Shannon Ray, the Ole Miss women posted a pair of event victories and saw several personal bests during the outdoor season opener at the Alabama Relays this past weekend. Ray won the 100-meter title in her college outdoor debut Friday, clocking a personal best of 11.74, which ranks her top 10 in school history. Senior Jhorden Hunter was runner-up in 11.79.
- The Ole Miss women captured the 4x100-meter relay crown Saturday with a time of 44.73 that ranks sixth-best in school history and sixth-best in the nation so far this outdoor season. The Rebels' squad consisted of Nicole Henderson, Ray, Khadijah Suleman and Hunter.
- A number of other freshmen had strong outdoor debuts on the women's side. Brittany Kelly tied for third in the high jump with a clearance of 5-7 that ties her for 10th in school history. Lanae Newsome got sixth in the triple jump and ranks 10th in school history with a mark of 39-5.75. Emily Bean ran 17:25.15 to enter the school record books at No. 9 in the 5,000 meters.
- Ole Miss' small contingent of men had some highlights despite resting most of the normal stars. Juniors Dameon Morgan and Holland Sherrer, who normally run the 800 meters, got fourth and fifth in the 400 in 48.59 and 48.80, respectively. In the high jump, junior Adam Aguirre cleared 6-8.75 to place fifth.
- On Thursday night, Nathan Loe and Kevin Conway put up solid marks in the hammer throw. Loe went 202-3 to place fourth overall (15th-best in NCAA this year), while Conway posted a personal-best mark of 195-11 that moved him up to third-best in the school record books.
- No. 17 Ole Miss dropped both its matches this past weekend, falling to No. 2 Florida and South Carolina on the road. The Rebels are now 11-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC.
- Senior Julia Jones beat the No. 5 ranked player in the nation on Friday for her 96th career win. She needs just four more to become the fifth player in program history to join the 100-club.
- Freshman Natalie Suk also picked up a big win Friday, defeating the No. 32 ranked player.
- Junior Forrest Gamble notched six birdies in his final round en route to a 69 at the Schenkel Invitational Saturday.
- Gamble posted 1-over 73 in the second round earlier in the day that included five birdies and tied in a tie for 40th.
- Ole Miss finished 14th in the team standings with a score of 7-over par 871.
The men's basketball team saw its run in the NCAA Tournament come to an end in the Round of 64 after a thrilling win in the First Four. The women's basketball team won two postseason WNIT games to continue its postseason run. And the spring sports on posted some big wins over the weekend. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:
- The Ole Miss men's basketball team tipped off the madness of March and captured the nation's attention with their 94-90 win over BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels scored 62 second-half points to erase a 17-point halftime deficit.
"Having to play in the First Four, I thought, was a very unique experience, exciting, very exciting as the kickoff to March Madness," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "And now we have the advantage of having won a game and having played awfully well, and quite frankly, catching the eye and the ear of the world of college basketball for one small segment."
- Before Ole Miss and Xavier tipped off on Thursday, I arrived at Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Arena early to watch No. 3 seed Baylor take on No. 14 seed Georgia State and came upon one of the signature moments that makes March Madness. The lower-seeded Panthers outscored Baylor 13-0 over the last 2:53 for the 57-56 win. Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter's son, R.J. Hunter, accounted for 12 of the 13 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left. And if you haven't seen it, check out the Vine, shot, celebration and all.
- Ole Miss unable to repeat the feat in the third round, unable to overcome a 33 percent shooting night and a 6-for-27 mark from 3-point range in a 76-57 loss to Xavier. Every time the Rebels made a run, the Musketeers had an answer, paced by leading scorer and Uber driver Matt Stainbrook, who scored a game-high 20 points.
- We're only days removed from the end of the 2014-15 season, but looking back, the 2014-15 team will go down in history as one of Kennedy's best coaching jobs and one of the most accomplished teams in program history. This year's team finished with a 21-13 record and went to NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in program history, where they picked up the fifth NCAA Tournament win in program history.
- Five seniors saw their Ole Miss careers come to an end, none more accomplished than four-year starting point guard Jarvis Summers. The Jackson native finishes his career as just the fourth player in SEC history with 1,600 points and 500 assists. He is also one of only nine players in Ole Miss history with 80 career wins.
- The Rebels received plenty of local and national coverage during its NCAA Tournament run. One of my favorite stories that came out of the run was a feature on former player and current assistant coach Todd Abernethy from The Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger.
- Xavier, by the way, has advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 75-67 win over Georgia State in the Round of 32 on Saturday. One of the most consistent program in recent years, Xavier has now advanced to five Sweet 16 in eight years.
- The women's basketball team has made some history of its own, picking up two wins in the Postseason WNIT, an 80-70 win over UT Martin, followed by a 63-48 win over Georgia Tech. Ole Miss last won multiple games in a postseason appearance in 2006-07, when the Rebels reached the NCAA Elite Eight. The Rebels are also just one win away from their first 20-win season, also since 2006-07.
- Earlier this season, head coach Matt Insell visited fraternity and sorority houses to drum up support for his team and program. This week, he challenged fans to hit him up on Twitter for tickets to attend their game against Georgia Tech. And his efforts have begun to show with higher attendance and a better home court experience in recent games, two things that will only continue to grow and improve as his process continues and the Rebels move into their new home at The Pavilion of Ole Miss.
"Playing in the postseason, we have momentum in our program," head coach Matt Insell said. "This program hasn't momentum in a long time. Nobody has talked about this program in a long time. Last year, about this time, we were getting ready to play Auburn and we were lucky to have 200 people here. Now, we have people who are coming and into our game. We're gathering support. It's huge momentum for recruiting and it's huge momentum for our young kids to continue to get practice time and game experience."
- For Matt Insell and the Rebels, the win over Georgia Tech sets up a rematch with Matt's father, Rick, and his Middle Tennessee State team in the Sweet 16 of the Postseason WNIT. The elder Insell got the better of the younger Insell in their earlier meeting this season in Oxford, while the rematch will be Thursday at 7 p.m. in Murfreesboro.
- The Ole Miss baseball team took two of three from No. 1 Florida, their fourth straight home series win over a top-ranked team. With the series win over the top-ranked Gators, the Rebels have gone 4-4 against top-10 team over the last two week, a stretch that included a midweek series at No. 8 Louisville, a weekend series on the road at No. 1 LSU and a weekend series at home against No. 1 Florida.
- The double-barrel of Christian Trent and Brady Bramlett continue to lead the way on the mound. They have made five quality starts in six starts each this season. Here's more on Trent, Bramlett and the series win over Florida.
- Sikes Orvis, a social media star after his heroics in a win over No. 1 LSU last weekend, continued his tear at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double, home run and four RBI in the series-clincher against No. 1 Florida. Through the first two weekends of SEC play, Orvis is hitting .421 with three doubles, two home run and nine RBI, all team highs.
- In softball action, head coach Mike Smith picked up his first SEC win and first SEC series win, as Ole Miss took both games of Saturday's doubleheader from No. 24 Mississippi State to claim the weekend series with the Bulldogs. The Rebels won the first game in dramatic fashion, rallying in extra innings and scoring the game-winning run on a walk-off wild pitch. In the second game, the Rebels batted around as part of an eight-run first inning on the way to a 14-8 win.
- With the series win, Ole Miss improves to 8-3 against Mississippi State in head-to-head competition during the 2014-15 school year, including wins in football and soccer, a season sweep in volleyball and men's basketball and now a series win in softball.
- The No. 13 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team won both of its weekend matches, highlighted by a 4-0 win over No. 15 Florida on Sunday. It was a rematch of their earlier meeting at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Gainesville, where the Rebels rallied for a 4-3 win. Senior Nik Scholtz clinched the 4-0 win with a three-set win at No. 1 singles.
- Ole Miss Athletics photographer Josh McCoy had a busy week, traveling with the men's basketball team from Oxford, to Dayton, to Jacksonville, back to Oxford, where he shot a busy weekend on the Ole Miss campus. Check out his many galleries from the week that was. My personal favorite is his gallery from the men's basketball win over BYU.
- Don't forget, Ole Miss will be honoring the athletic achievements of Ole Miss student-athletes over the past year at the fifth annual Rebels' Choice Awards on Monday. Three of the awards, Play of the Year, Game of the Year and Fan Favorite Rebel, were determined by fan vote. Stay tuned to the official website for a full recap.
Junior left-hander Christian Trent and sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett picked up quality starts on the mound, and the offensive provided some timely hits, which proved to be a winning formula as Ole Miss claimed the weekend series over No. 1 Florida, the Rebels' fourth straight home series win over a top-ranked team.
Ole Miss has gone through a gauntlet, playing eight of its last nine games against top-10 team, posting a 5-4 record, including a 4-4 record against the top-10 teams in No. 8 Louisville, No. 1 LSU, and No. 1 Florida.
"We're getting better," Bianco said. "We've shown that the last couple weeks. It's about being consistent and being able to perform. Certainly, the first two games we pitched well, and we're starting to get some timely hits. On Friday night, we didn't get a ton, but we got two that counted. That's really what we lacked."
Offensively, the Rebels had six hits in the 4-1 win in the series opener on Friday and nine hits in the 5-2 in in the series clincher in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, but as Bianco said, they were timely hits.
All the run support Trent and Bramlett needed came in the first innings, a two-run home run by sophomore center fielder J.B. Woodman in the opener and a three-run blast by senior first baseman Sikes Orvis in the clincher.
Trent retired the first eight batters he faced and went 4.1 innings before allowing his first hit. He said he struggled to locate his slider for a strike and leaned on his fast ball and change-up, and that was enough, as he allowed just one run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work.
"He struggled to get the slider into the strike zone today, but that was kind of him last year," Bianco said. "Sometimes, he had the slider. Sometimes, he had the change-up."
Bramlett went six innings strong, giving up two runs -- one earned -- on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Through his first two career SEC starts, both against a top-ranked team, Bramlett has allowed just two earned runs in 13.0 innings of work.
He allowed the leadoff man to reach in each of the first four innings, but he worked around them in the first three innings and limited the fourth-inning damage to two runs, stranding runners at first and second with an inning-ending groundout to short.
"They made it tough on him," Bianco said. "They're a good offense. And even though he was putting up some zeros, his pitch count was running up. He was working for them.
"He was pitching with men on base and the innings are forever. It's raining, and it's damp and chilly, and at one point, I wasn't sure if he'd get past 75 pitches, but then he found another gear there and was able to give us a couple more innings."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A four-year starter at point guard, one of the most accomplished players in program history, senior Jarvis Summers saw his Ole Miss career come to an end, as did four of his fellow seniors in LaDarius White, Aaron Jones, M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith.
They helped the Rebels to a 21-13 record and the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and the fifth NCAA Tournament win in program history. Summers, White and Jones are members of a select group, becoming just the seventh senior class to make at least two trips to the Big Dance.
For Rhett and Smith, graduate transfers from Tennessee State and UT Martin, respectively, they experienced the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time, realizing the goal that they set out to accomplish when they began their respective careers at Ole Miss.
"I hate it for Jarvis," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He's had a tremendous career for us. He's been a leader, he's been steady. He's had a tough year all year shooting the basketball, and I guess it's somewhat fitting that he would end with his struggles offensively.
"Without Jarvis and without Snoop and without A.J. and without M.J. and without Terence, the five seniors who the journey ends tonight, you know, we're not here. We're not in the NCAA and we're certainly not in the position that we were to have the chance to advance. I'm proud of those guys and what they were able to accomplish."
Summers finishes his career as just the fourth player in SEC history with 1,600 career points and 500 assists. He is also one of only nine players in Ole Miss history with 80 career wins, serving as a mainstay at the point guard position since the early part of his freshman season.
To the end, despite his performance in his final college game, Summers showed true leadership, putting the team before himself, as he has throughout his decorated career.
"It's really frustrating," Summers said. "All this year, I have been struggling, and I couldn't get things going, but I'm not a person who makes excuses. If it's on me, it's on me, and all I can do is move forward."
From his five years at Cincinnati, three as an assistant coach and one each as associate head coach and interim head coach, head coach Andy Kennedy knows and has experienced the Xavier program first hand, having coached against the Musketeers in the annual Crosstown Classic.
Xavier, 21-13, is making its 25th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, its ninth in 10 years, becoming one of only 11 programs that have been to the Big Dance at least nine times over the last 10 years. The Musketeers have also clinched its ninth 20-win season in the last 10 years.
"They're exactly what I thought they would be," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "They're not going to give you anything easy. They're very, very fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. We've just got to do what we do, and that's be the aggressor, try to play downhill, try to be as disruptive as possible against a team that passes it as well as anybody in the country."
As a team, Xavier leads the Big East in field goal percentage (.473) and assists (16.4) and ranks second in scoring at 73.6 points per game. However, compared to their most recent NCAA Tournament matchup with BYU that featured a combined 194 points, Kennedy and his team expect a much more rugged, less free-flowing contest when they face the Musketeers on Thursday afternoon.
Ole Miss senior forward M.J. Rhett said Xavier reminded him of Georgia because of their style of play. Xavier head coach Chris Mack said Ole Miss is similar in physicality and athleticism to a Cincinnati-type team. Both teams faced the same challenge in essentially preparing for the other team in 36 hours.
"For us, it's just making sure that we do our best to take them out of their strengths," Kennedy said. "You never want to get beat with another team's strengths, and that's what our focus will be on in preparation for tomorrow afternoon's game."
"By this time of the year, you really focus more importantly on what your own team does, not necessarily trying to take away every little play and counter that the other team is running," Mack said.
Ole Miss has gone through a two-day turn twice, as well as a one-day turn when the Rebels played No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in back-to-back days at the Emerald Coast Classic, but they haven't gone through a turn quite like the whirlwind, as head coach Andy Kennedy described it, this week.
The Rebels closed out a 94-90 win over BYU, a game that ended around 11 p.m. local time Tuesday in Dayton. The team walked out of UD Arena around 12:30 a.m., flew to Jacksonville and then arrived at their hotel around 4:30 a.m., before starting preparations for sixth-seeded Xavier that included a shootaround Wednesday evening at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
"Well, for us, it's just about making sure that our guys are physically rested, not only the demands of the travel with such an emotional game, and we had to expend so much energy in order to come back," Kennedy said.
"So we want to make sure our guys are rested physically because we know the challenge Xavier is going to present, rugged, not going to give you anything easy, a little bit different flow than what we faced last night. And we want to give them as much information as possible without bogging us down. We're going to be who we are; Xavier is going to be who they are. We've got to do a good job of imposing our will on the game like we were fortunate enough to do the second half last night."
There are advantages and disadvantages to Ole Miss having played an additional First Four game on Tuesday, while Xavier hasn't played in nearly a week, a 69-52 loss to Villanova in the Big East championship game on March 14.
"The disadvantage that we have per our opponent is obviously what we just described, the physical demands of what it's taken to get here," Kennedy said. "The advantage that we have is we have a win in this tournament. We just scored 62 points in a half. We just overcame a 17-point deficit, which is the biggest since 2007 in this tournament. We've got a lot of guys feeling pretty good about themselves."
The Rebels carry a lot of momentum into Thursday, particularly on the offensive end, having shot 60 percent from the field in the second half to finish the game at 45 percent in the win over BYU. Six Rebels scored in double figures, including all three members of their big three in Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White.
Moody led the way with an Ole Miss NCAA record 26 points, including 15 in the second half. Summers posted his second career double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, compared to just one turnover. M.J. Rhett added a career-high 20 points, including 14 after halftime.
"Well, it's definitely not emotionally draining," Rhett said. "We're just going to roll off of how we played in the second half. Being that we can come back from a 17-point deficit, if we can just fix our first half performances and play better in the first half and keep our second half, because we're a second half team for the most part. So if we could just hold down our first half and come back in the second half and do what we do, we'll be fine."
Giant Killers come in many different shapes and forms in the NCAA Tournament.
They are not just your teams from smaller and mid-major conferences, but also your lower-seeded power-conference teams. As defined by ESPN's Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner, Giants Killers are teams that defeat an opponent seeded at least five spots higher in the NCAA Tournament.
When the bracket came out on Sunday, Keating and Brenner considered 11th-seeded Ole Miss the second-most likely Giant Killer to pull off a Round of 64 upset , giving them a 38.9 percent to upset sixth-seeded Xavier, second only to fellow 11th-seed BYU, which had a 51.0 percent chance against the Musketeers.
Now, after Ole Miss' thrilling 94-90 win over BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday, the Rebels are considered the most likely Giant Killer to pull off a Round of 64 upset.
Ole Miss is coming off a season-high 94 points, including 62 second-half points, which was the most points scored in the second half of a NCAA game since 2007. The Rebels also erased a 17-point halftime deficit, the largest halftime deficit overcome, also since 2007.
History also favors a possible upset in the Round of 64.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 11 seeds have a 41-79 record against No. 6 seeds, a winning percentage of 34.2 percent. Also, since tournament expansion, 17 teams selected as No. 11 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16, the last being Tennessee and Dayton last year.
Winners of First Four games have also had recent success in the NCAA Tournament, as at least one First Four team has won multiple games each year since the tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011, including two Sweet 16 participants and one Final Four participant.
The one matchup in the West where it's worth abandoning chalk is actually the easiest to explain. Xavier is a fine team, but they're not outstanding in the areas that help keep Giants safe against Killers. They're only average on the offensive boards and at forcing turnovers (ranking 158th in each category), and as a further warning sign, they are weak at defending the perimeter. That kind of generic Giant loses to Killers, on average, more than twice as often as other types. Moreover, there's just not five seeds' worth of difference between Xavier and Ole Miss.
BYU would have been a prime challenger to Xavier because of the way they hit 3s and pound the offensive boards, it's true. But with Ole Miss, the same arguments apply, only in lowercase. Mississippi's basic power rating is on par with several teams with higher seeds, like St. John's and Purdue, and better than a few, too, like LSU and Oregon. The big difference is that the Rebels lack BYU's outside shooting touch.
So here's a thought: If the play-in games have become the selection committee's last chance to reward deserving mid-majors or power conference teams with a dozen losses, maybe they'll just keep getting stocked with high-grade Killers. This season, 11 vs. 6 looks like the new 12 vs. 5.