After opening conference play with a big win over Kentucky, the Missouri Tigers have fallen into 9th place in the SEC. They will look to get back on track tonight against the Ole Miss Rebels, who have only managed to win one conference game so far this season. We’ll preview the game before going over my best bet for the action.
Missouri is fresh off two straight home games in which they hosted two tough opponents in Arkansas and Alabama. They won the first game against the Razorbacks, but their Saturday match-up against the Crimson Tide was a much different story, as they lost by 19 points.
The game against Alabama was another example of their defense not being able to carry them when they have a poor shooting night. The Tigers' defensive efficiency rating of 104.1 ranks 185th in the country, according to KenPom, and opponents have managed a 52.1% effective field goal percentage this season.
Missouri’s success this season stems strictly from their 10th-ranked offensive efficiency rating on KenPom. The Tigers have the 23rd-best shooting percentage in the country this season at 47.8%, but there is a chance they will be without leading scorer Kobe Brown tonight. Brown also missed their most recent game, leading to the Tigers' worst shooting performance of the season, so guys like D’Moi Hodge will need to step up.
The Tigers won’t be the only team possibly missing their leading scorer, as Ole Miss could be without guard Matthew Murrell, who exited their most recent game with a knee injury. Murrell is the only Rebels player averaging in double figures this season, so losing him would be a big blow to a team that ranks 144th in the country in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
Ole Miss has failed to score at least 60 points in four of their seven conference games, and unlike the Tigers, most of their wins have stemmed from their defense. The Rebels' defensive rating of 96.7 ranks 55th in the country, according to KenPom, and they have held teams to an average of 65.5 points per game this season.
My best bet for this game will come on a moneyline bet, as I’ll be taking Missouri (-115) in this one. The Tigers are the better team if both leading scorers play, and they are the better team if neither leading scorer plays, so I like them to win the game outright on the road.
Missouri is 3-1 straight up after a loss this season, and their 40th-ranked tempo could cause many issues for an Ole Miss offense that already struggles with turnovers and shooting in general. When the Rebels recently played a fast-paced offensive team in Arkansas, they had 17 turnovers and shot 38% from three.
The one thing the Tigers' defense has been able to do this season is create turnovers, as they lead the country in steals per game with an average of 11.4 a game. If Brown cannot play tonight, I expect them to emphasize defense much more and try to create a lot of transition opportunities.