Ole Miss out for better defense against UT Martin


After losing its defensive stinginess last weekend, Ole Miss will look to bounce back Tuesday against Tennessee-Martin at Oxford, Miss.

Ole Miss entered the weekend with the nation’s fifth-best scoring defense at 52 points per game, but the Rebels (4-1) fell 65-62 to Dayton on Saturday night when the host Flyers shot 60 percent in the second half.

“Our guards didn’t do a good job of keeping (Dayton’s guards) out of the paint,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “We did a poor job of rotating over, which we’ve been so good at for the first four games.”

UT Martin (3-1) also is looking to recover from its first loss on the young season after falling 81-63 to Western Illinois on Sunday. After a 12-day break in which four games were canceled or postponed, including contests against ranked teams Illinois and Tennessee, the Skyhawks are set to play their fourth games in eight days.

“That played a huge part but no excuses,” UT Martin interim coach Montez Robinson said of the impact of the busy schedule on the loss to the Leathernecks. “The guys just came off quarantine (Sunday) morning and hadn’t practiced in eight days. But we just got to be better and execute.”

UT Martin is led by Cameron Holden, who ranks second in the Ohio Valley Conference with an average of 18.3 points per game and fifth in rebounding at 7.3 per game.

The Skyhawks’ Eden Holt (16 points per game) leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (6.5) and free-throw percentage (.917) while Eric Rustin is averaging a conference-best 2.3 blocks per game.

“Eden makes big shots — we wanted to keep the ball in his hands late down the stretch and let him make a play,” Robinson said. “Cameron is a junkyard dog — he’s hard to guard. He gets us big, timely offensive rebounds and is a post-up machine who is going to battle and get to the free-throw line.”

Dayton was the first opponent to score 60 or more points against Ole Miss, which also ranks fifth in the nation in turnovers forced (20.6 per game).

Rebels leading scorer Devontae Shuler (16.6 points per game) shot only 4 of 16 from the field against the Flyers and 2 of 9 from 3-point range.

Romello White, Ole Miss’ next highest scorer at 12.2 points per game, was held to eight points and the Rebels lost despite outrebounding Dayton 41-24.

“I thought we forced it,” Davis said. “Devontae’s got to do a better job of taking quality shots, running harder offense. Our ball movement’s got to continue to get better.”

–Field Level Media

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