OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss played hard in its last two road games, taking Texas A&M and Arkansas to the limit before ultimately coming up just short in both.
The Rebels’ two best wins this season have come at home against South Carolina and Florida, so it’s a good thing Ole Miss (10-9, 3-4 SEC) is back in the friendly confines of The Pavilion tonight to face Alabama (13-6, 5-2). The Crimson Tide has itself in good position in the first half of conference play, currently sitting at 5-2 in the SEC, just behind Auburn and first-place Florida.
So far, Alabama has three Top-50 wins (No. 8 Auburn, No. 10 Rhode Island, and No. 33 Texas A&M), and only one sub-100 loss at Vanderbilt, which has an RPI of 143. The Crimson Tide, with an RPI of 26, is riding a four-game winning streak since beginning conference play 1-2.
Alabama has won the last two games without its leading scorer Collin Sexton (19.3 points per game) who is dealing with an abdominal injury; however, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said after the team’s 68-62 home win over Mississippi State that Sexton is inching close to a return.
If Sexton doesn’t play Tuesday night, however, the Crimson Tide still has more than enough scoring from Braxton Key, John Petty, and Dazon Ingram to give the Rebels fits.
Three things to watch in the Rebels’ game vs. The Tide
1. The combination of Braxton Key and John Petty
In Alabama’s win over the Bulldogs, Braxton Key led the team with 16 points. In the Crimson Tide win over the Tigers, John Petty scored 27 points on 9 for 14 shooting. Both performances happened without Collin Sexton being on the floor. Petty and Key have proven that they have what it takes to take over the game when it’s time to do so.
2. Terence Davis back to his old self
Last Saturday against Arkansas, junior forward Terence Davis led Ole Miss in scoring with 30 points on 10 for 15 shooting. Davis’ breakout performance came after a six-game stretch during which the junior made 14 of 62 shots from the field. His game against the Hogs was Davis’ best performance since he scored 25 points on Dec. 22 against Bradley.
3. Starting off fast
For Ole Miss to end Alabama’s four-game winning streak, the Rebels will need to get off to a quick start. Against Arkansas, the Rebels trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before Davis’ 3-pointer cut the Hogs’ lead to as few as two points with 12 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately, Daryl Macon hit four straight free throws in the closing minute to secure the win for Arkansas.
Ole Miss and Alabama tip off at 7:30 p.m. (CT) in Oxford. The game will be televised on the SEC Network, with Dave Neal handling play-by-play and Keith Carter performing analyst duties.