Have you seen this movie before?
It’s called: “On the Bubble.”
But this year’s squad has something that none in recent memory possessed: the ability to make free throws—a lot of them.
Led by junior guard Stefan Moody, Ole Miss is making over 80 percent of its shots from the line. Good enough for the No.1 spot in that NCAA statistical category. Moody, who is converting 91.7 percent of his free throws, is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation. The 5-foot, 10-inch guard has made 88 of 96 attempts as of Tuesday.
In the Rebels 20 point road win over Missouri, Moody went 10 for 10 from the foul line. He finished with a game high 23 points which included a monster one-handed slam off a missed three point attempt.
But Moody isn’t the only Rebel making noise in 2015. Senior Jarvis Summers continues to give Ole Miss an edge when Moody has an off night. Summers is averaging 14.1 points per game with his most recent success coming via a 22 point second half performance in 79–73 win over Mississippi State.
“Jarvis had been struggling (in the first half),” Kennedy said after the Mississippi State game. “In the first half he was 0–2. He did not look like he had any pop. He wasn’t putting any pressure on the defense. We challenged him at the half and he responded.”
Summers also led the Rebels to a 72–71 victory over Florida by knocking down two free throws with three seconds remaining.
“He’s an all-league player that has been here before,” Kennedy said. “We need him to carry us in tight games.”
Sophomore Sebastian Saiz leads the team in field goal percentage, knocking down just over 60 percent of his shots. The Madrid, Spain native also leads the Rebels in blocks (21) and defense rebounds (73).
And then there is the bench. Led by Dwight Colbey and giving Ole Miss the sparks needed to put together runs. The 6-foot, 10-inch sophomore has been solid off the bench, averaging 6.1 points per game, converting over 82 percent of his free throws and shooting 60 percent from the field. Colbey leads the team in rebounds per game, averaging 5.1 despite only starting three games this season. Ole Miss needed a sixth man to emerge this year, and Colbey has done just that.
The team is coming together, or so it seems, and Kennedy sees the strengths. Get to the line.
“One of the things I think is a strength for this team is our experience,” he said. “We’ve been lacking that experience down the stretch. Now, we get an angle, shot fake and lean in to get the guy off balance. We continue to make free throws at a very efficient rate.”
The Rebels will have an opportunity to increase their résumé in the coming weeks. A big home match-up with Arkansas on February 14th could be a deciding factor when the committee makes it selections. A series sweep of the Hogs would bump Ole Miss’ RPI into the 30s. Of course, the Rebels have to take care of business on the road, with games against Auburn (Feb. 7th) and Florida (Feb. 12th) slated prior to the match-up against Arkansas.
Currently, Ole Miss sits at No. 48. Arkansas is No. 21.