After an 81-74 road victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team appears to be clicking on all cylinders. The Rebels take a two-game winning streak into Knoxville tonight as they face the Tennessee Volunteers (5:30 p.m. CT, SECN).
Ole Miss (14-9, 5-5 SEC) defeated the Vols, 80-69, back on January 17, after rallying from a 13-point deficit early in the second half. Since then, the Vols (13-10, 5-5) have won four of five SEC games, including an 82-80 victory over then-No. 4 Kentucky; however, Tennessee’s four-game winning streak came to an end Saturday at Mississippi State as the Bulldogs defeated the Vols, 65-59.
The Vols (who have lost six of the last seven meetings against Ole Miss) and the Rebels are fighting for a strong regular-season finish in order to earn a solid seeding in the conference tournament in Nashville.
Three keys for Ole Miss to defeat Tennessee
1. Limit Robert Hubbs III and Grant Williams
Senior guard Robert Hubbs III scored 15 points for the Vols the last time he faced Ole Miss. The Rebels did a great job of limiting freshman forward Grant Williams, who scored only five points and was in foul trouble for most of the game. If Ole Miss forces Hubbs to have a game like Williams did in the first meeting and puts pressure on freshmen guards Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden to carry the scoring load, the Rebels could sweep Tennessee on the season.
2. Win the rebounding battle
Ole Miss won the rebounding battle, 50-42, against the Vols when they visited Oxford last month. The Rebels rank third in the SEC, pulling down 39 rebounds a game this season, and rank sixth in the league with a +2.7 rebounding margin.
Ole Miss has only been out-rebounded by six opponents this season, and continues to clean up the offensive boards, pulling down 12.2 offensive rebounds a game, which ranks seventh in the league.
3. Rebels in double-digits
During Ole Miss’ two-game winning streak, the Rebels have had at least four players score in double figures. Deandre Burnett, Terence Davis, Sebastian Saiz, and Rasheed Brooks all scored in double figures in the team’s win over Mississippi State. In the victory over Vanderbilt, five Rebels (Burnett, Davis, Saiz, Justas Furmanavicius, and Breein Tyree) scored in double figures. Ole Miss will be looking for similar production from multiple Rebels in tonight’s game against the Vols.
Ole Miss and Tennessee play tonight, February 8, at 5:30 p.m. (CT) in Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
(Feature image credit: Mario Parham, The Rebel Walk)