Dayton served up a couple of good games tonight, but it was the nightcap that mattered to Xavier fans. Ole Miss rallied from down as many as 17 in the second half to knock off a BYU team that was a trendy first round upset pick. The 62 points that the Rebels put up in the second half are more than Xavier put up in entire Crosstown Shootout. It's clear that Andy Kennedy's team can score and do it in bunches. Here's three takeaways from tonight's game for Xavier fans.
1. Ole Miss can shoot the ball in streaks
The Rebels shot 60% from the floor in the second half as the BYU defense slowly crumbled. Even a crumbling defense needs someone to take advantage of it thought, and Ole Miss did that. Their bigs, especially, took advantage of gaps and went 12-16 from the floor for the game. Stefan Moody caught fire in the second half and went 10-18 for the game. Mississippi has now scored more than 80 points in four of their last five games. The offensive firepower is certainly there, the team was 21st in the nation in offensive efficiency for the season, but...
2. Their defense can be had
BYU is a good offensive team, that's the reason a lot of people were picking them to beat Xavier, but the Rebels just made them look like world beaters. The Cougars shot .483/.517/.704 and scored 90 points on only 58 field goal attempts. That's not just bad defense, it's horrendous. Consider that Ole Miss ripped off a 62 point half and scored 30 points in just over eight minutes in order to win by four points. That gives some idea of how willing they are to surrender on defense. In BYU they met a foil who wanted to run and gun with them. In Xavier, they won't.
3. Xavier's defense is a cut above
Quit laughing, I'm being serious. BYU's defense finished 140th in the nation in adjusted efficiency. Xavier's, bad as it seemed at times, finished 54th. Yes, Mississippi cut the Cougars to bits in that second half, but BYU has no defender like Remy Abell, no athletes around the rim like Jalen Reynolds or James Farr, and no post man who hits the defensive glass like Matt Stainbrook. Ole Miss shot 33.7% from three for the year and took only 33% of their shots from there. Tonight, they shot 30.4% on their 23 three point attempts. Xavier's zone and Xavier's bigs are a whole different story from what BYU brought to the table.
So Xavier now knows who they will be playing at around 4:15 Thursday afternoon. With tonight's 94-90 win, the Mississippi Rebels become the 11 seed. Check back here tomorrow for the full workup.