Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Mississippi

Lineup notes

Mississippi:

  • Kermit has used seven different starting lineups this year, which should give you an indication of how this season has gone. Most recent one was Shuler, Joiner, Rodriguez, Allen, White.
  • Buffen’s punishment aside, you can generally expect at least nine players to see 10+ minutes on an average night, which Dimencio Vaughn sometimes being the tenth,
  • Best defensive lineup by a mile: Shuler, Joiner, Rodriguez, Allen, White. That’s why Kermit is putting it out there. (The worst one is Shuler, Murrell, Rodriguez, Buffen, White, which got ran off the floor very quickly by LSU and has not returned.)

Tennessee:

  • Tennessee typically doesn’t change much when things appear to be going smoothly, so Vescovi, Johnson, Springer, Pons, Fulkerson is probably your starting lineup until the next loss.
  • I did some Hoop-Explorer exploring for the Reed’s Ranch Patrons this week and found two very interesting things: Tennessee’s best offensive backcourt is Vescovi, Johnson, and Springer, while their best offensive frontcourt is JJJ and Pons. And yet: these five players have only played two possessions together all season, both against App State. I’d like to see it again, maybe against a team with a less mobile center.
  • Pour one out for E.J. Anosike, who received his first DNP on Saturday as Olivier Nkamhoua (and, to some extent, a four-guard lineup) gobbled up his remaining minutes. I feel bad for Anosike and hope he turns it around at some point.

Key matchups

Devontae Shuler vs. Santiago Vescovi (offense) and Jaden Springer (defense). Of course, given how Tennessee switches in pick-and-rolls, it could end up being Devontae Shuler vs. Yves Pons. Given my personal preference, I’d rather stick Vescovi on the less-aggressive Joiner and let Springer go to work. A general consistency in the Ole Miss SEC losses has been a defensive game plan to force Shuler to take a lot of threes, which he’s shooting just 26.5% on in conference play. I’m happy with that or with forcing him to the rim where he’s struggled to finish.

Luis Rodriguez vs. Josiah-Jordan James. When K.J. Buffen comes in, that’s almost certainly Pons’ assignment, but I could see Tennessee also tossing Pons on Rodriguez at times too. Either way, Rodriguez is the only other seriously threatening scoring option, particularly at the rim, and he’s the best Rebel one-on-one defender by some margin. Tennessee has to get creative in finding JJJ openings to shoot, while JJJ himself has to keep Rodriguez out of the paint.

Romello White vs. John Fulkerson. White is a strange matchup in that he’s an undersized center who doesn’t shoot threes and takes about one mid-range jumper per game. However, he’s a very skilled scorer out of post-ups. Fulkerson is an excellent post defender, and I want to see him take it to White on the other end and get the best Rebel big into foul trouble. Something I’d note about White if I were Fulkerson/staff is that he almost never turns to his left, even if it means he’s going away from the basket.

Three predictions

  1. Ole Miss makes the most threes they’ve made in a game since January 23 (three or more);
  2. Tennessee gets four players in double figures but none score more than 14;
  3. Tennessee 63, Ole Miss 58.

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