Notes and thoughts on the Rebels’ 80-63 win over Tennessee Tech …

When you look down at the stat sheet and see opponent shooting at 40 percent and 63 points allowed you can think, ‘Hey, that’s not that bad.’

But as the Rebels sit at 9-3 when the schedule about to shift gears there are defense and focus issues on this team.

It’s like the Rebels have Basketball ADD.

They know what they’re supposed to do, and apparently when Kermit Davis and his assistants are hovering over them things get done.

We’re told there have been good, physical practices.

We can see that the ball is moving better in recent games – 22 assists on 30 makes yesterday – and that was something Davis really harped on early.

But this team has a tendency to drift away from what it knows it should do, and the resulting scoring droughts or dysfunctional defense are damaging.

Recently it’s shown in slow starts.

The Rebels trailed by six in the latter stages of the fist half yesterday. Had they been playing a team with better athletes they’d have trailed by a lot more than 32-31 at the break.

The Rebels showed better defense in the second half. This team is capable of guarding for stretches of time, but success requires great focus and attention to detail.

Too many times Breein Tyree was beaten off the bounce. He wasn’t the only one. Guys were getting lost in screens, and back door cuts produced open shots for Tennessee Tech.

Davis said the poor defense affected the Rebels’ shooting. Something affected it. They got a few shots to fall late in the first half to get their shooting percentage up to 41.4, but they missed 11 of 12 3-point attempts in that half.

They guarded better after Davis took them to the woodshed at halftime. They were more focused and dialed into what they were doing defensively.

As they played with more confidence they looked more in sync on offense. 3-point shots began to fall. The ball moved better. KJ Buffen got to the rim more frequently.

The Rebels scored 49 points in the second half, so it all worked out, but it worked out against Tennessee Tech. It’s not going to work out against the teams the Rebels are getting ready to face.

Focus is a problem right now.

Davis seemed frustrated in the postgame telling us that for most of his career he’s had fast-starting teams.

I look at Tyree and Blake Hinson and see offensive-minded players, guys with ability but guys who sometimes have to be reminded to play hard on both ends. These guys need to be more self-motivated.

There are other things holding this group back right now.

Davis added a talented class of signees, and they’re adjusting. Khadim Sy has made the most progress.

Sammy Hunter and Austin Crowley have shown flashes. The ability is there, but right now they’re playing like the freshmen they are. They’re doing the expected, but this team that is trying to replace Terence Davis needed one or two of those newcomers to do the unexpected, to come in playing a higher level.

Maybe they’ll get better as the season rocks along.

For now, a lot of improvement needs to happen for the Rebels.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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