Vandy’s Scotty Pippen Jr. takes hot hand to Ole Miss
Vanderbilt and Ole Miss will square off for the second time in a week Saturday when they meet for a Southeastern Conference game at The Pavilion in Oxford, Miss.
The two squads played last Saturday, with Vanderbilt scoring a 75-70 upset in Nashville. That was particularly surprising since the Commodores were missing their two best players because of injury in Scotty Pippen Jr. (21.4 points, 5.0 assists, 1.8 steals per game) and Dylan Disu (15.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks).
Pippen returned to the lineup strong Thursday night — after a hip injury cost him three games — when he led Vandy to a nonconference victory at Cincinnati. Pippen scored a career-high 36 points with a sharpshooting performance as he hit 10 of 13 field-goal attempts, 5 of 6 from 3-point range, and 11 of 12 free throws.
“When I first started the game, I didn’t want to force anything,” Pippen said. “I actually wanted to let the game come to me. I got a little winded, and I knew when I came back in the game after seeing how the defense was playing that I’d be able to adjust. Once I saw my first shot go in, I felt confident.”
Jordan Wright chipped in a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) for Vanderbilt (8-14, 3-12 SEC), which was glad to get an extra game added to the schedule at the last minute, keeping them from dwelling on their 83-68 loss at LSU on Tuesday.
Vanderbilt will be looking for consecutive victories for the first time since the first two games of the season.
Ole Miss also got a much-needed win its last time out with a 70-62 home victory over Kentucky on Tuesday.
“I thought it was a real physical game. I’m proud of our team,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “Rebounding was a key, especially against a team like (Kentucky). Devontae Shuler had one of his best games he’s ever had as an Ole Miss Rebel.”
Shuler had 17 points and seven assists in that one while KJ Buffen (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Romello White (11, 10) each recorded double-doubles.
Vanderbilt’s strength is its offense (54th nationally in the KenPom.com adjusted offensive efficiency) while Ole Miss relies on defense (23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency).
Ole Miss has been successful with its zone defenses due to the quickness of Shuler and Luis Rodriguez and the interior presence of White (1.2 blocks per game).
The key to Vandy’s win last Saturday was 3-point shooting. The Commodores rotated the ball at times to get some good looks from beyond the arc against the Rebels, going 11-of-23 from distance (47.8 percent) while Ole Miss was just 4-of-13 (30.8 percent) from 3.
The Rebels will place a premium on guarding Pippen. Disu is out for the year with a knee injury, leaving Wright (9.1 ppg) as Vandy’s second-leading active scorer.
Vanderbilt’s challenge will be stopping Shuler and White in the paint. The Commodores have struggled in keeping guards out of the lane and the interior defense suffers without Disu.
Ole Miss took advantage last week, as Shuler scored 25 points while White had 17 points and eight rebounds, but Vandy still prevailed by shooting better overall.
Saturday is the Rebels’ Senior Night. The game wasn’t scheduled until the SEC threw it on the slate last week as a way to make up for games canceled due to COVID-19.
–Field Level Media