OXFORD, Miss. – Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss team lost a hard-fought game to Texas A&M, 80-76, Wednesday night in The Pavilion–and now the Rebels must try and bounce back this evening against the juggernaut that is the No. 5 Baylor Bears.
Before Ole Miss (12-8, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) even played Texas A&M, Coach Kennedy had already watched the Bears play and noticed the similarities between their frontcourt and that of the Aggies.
Baylor, on a four-game winning streak since a loss at West Virginia back on Jan. 10, has a very skilled post player in junior forward Johnathan Motley.
Motley leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 16.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. The Bears also have a solid point guard with junior transfer Manu Lecomte running the show. He’s second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game and has dished out a team-best 89 assists.
Baylor (19-1, 7-1 Big 12) is shooting 48.1 percent from the field and is limiting its opponents to just 38.2 percent shooting. The Bears also have a +8.3 rebounding margin, which ranks 11th in the nation. Baylor won the rebounding battle in its 65-61 home victory over Texas Tech Wednesday night, 32-23.
“I have seen them a good bit. They are an outstanding team,” Kennedy said about the Bears, who are tied with No. 2 Kansas for first place in the Big 12 Conference.
“They are a legit Final Four contender. Their frontline is a lot like these guys (Texas A&M). They have a couple of guys that looks like Robert Williams. They have good guards. They are a quality team.”
Andy Kennedy on Baylor
Aggies offer Rebels good preparation for facing Baylor
Playing against the likes of A&M’s Tyler Davis and Williams has prepared the Rebels for what will be awaiting them this evening inside The Pavilion in what is known as the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Ole Miss was outrebounded 39-23 by the Aggies, and trying to contain Baylor’s Motley and his counterpart, 7-foot big-man Jo Lual-Acuil, Jr., will definitely pose a challenge. Lual-Acuil averages 9.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Ole Miss’ Sebastian Saiz finished with 19 points and seven rebounds against Texas A&M, but the senior forward will need some help for the Rebels to defeat the surging Bears.
Marcanvis Hymon and Justas Furmanavicius have been playing all the minutes at power forward since Karlis Silins went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Nate Morris was dismissed from the team. Hymon averages 3.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while Furmanavicius records 6.7 points and 5.2 boards a game.
After the A&M game, Kennedy said his team simply has to get better.
“Everybody in the room has a different view on this (A&M) game and the Baylor game. Our view has never changed, we have to get better. Plain and simple, from day one, I’ve told these guys that we have to get better. We are not talking big picture, we have got to get better. We have some injuries and the Rasheed (Brooks) situation, and we’re just trying to fill holes in our team. We are just trying to manage games as best we can and give ourselves a chance.”
Series history with Baylor
Today’s game will be just the second-ever meeting between the Rebels and Bears. The first meeting occurred at a neutral site, Charleston, South Carolina, on Dec. 29, 1970, with Baylor topping the Rebels 132-113. Ole Miss legend Johnny Neumann scored 60 points in that game–the second-most points ever scored by a Rebel and the most points ever scored against the Bears. Neumann finished the game 24 of 40 from the field.
Rebels vs. Big 12
Ole Miss is 16-20 all-time versus current members of the Big 12, having faced every current member. The Rebels have faced the Texas Longhorns the most and have a 6-8 record against the Longhorns. Head coach Andy Kennedy is 3-3 vs. the Big 12 at Ole Miss and 0-3 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Ole Miss is 141-37 (.793 win pct.) in home games during Andy Kennedy’s tenure with the team. The Rebels are 15-6 all time in The Pavilion. Ole Miss has won 266 of its last 335 games (.794 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017
Time: 5:00 p.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Arena: The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,051)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Live Video: WatchESPN.com
(Feature image credit: Mario Parham, The Rebel Walk)