It didn’t make sense until the end of Kentucky’s 87-74 victory at No. 16 Ole Miss. The Rebels had completely blown the first half after starting 3-for-20 against a UK team that was affected by early foul trouble. The quick whistles (22 fouls called in the first 15 minutes of the matchup) didn’t help the flow of a sloppy half. But the biggest factor in the Rebs’ offensive lapse was Nerlens Noel.
Yes, Marshall Henderson (5-for-19, 21 points) took a bunch of ridiculous shots against the Wildcats. But you could see the Rebels’ trepidation as they considered attacking the paint. Noel (12 blocks) was there. And he was altering shots. And he was making the Rebs think twice about approaching the rim. There was a stretch in the second half in which Kentucky kicked off a 17-0 run that made you think, “Wow, maybe the Wildcats will be OK.”