Ole Miss Rebels set to take on LSU
Ole Miss will meet a familiar foe in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday as the Rebels travel to Baton Rouge, La. to take on the LSU Tigers. Ole Miss is coming off a 76-72 home loss to Georgia, but still sits third in the SEC standings.
In the game against the Bulldogs, the Rebels shot 34.8 percent (23-of-66) from the field, while leading scorer Stefan Moody (16.5 ppg) had a team-high 19 points, but shot an uncharacteristic 5-for-16 from the floor. Ole Miss’ second-leading scorer, Jarvis Summers, added 13 points on a 5-for-15 effort.
Georgia wasn’t as proficient as the Rebels, but its 47.8 percent (11-of-23) shooting effort from the 3-point line separated both teams on the stat sheet.
Summers needs just four assists to become only the fifth player in SEC history with 1,500 career points and 500 career assists. He’s already at 1,567 points, 496 assists, 3,711 minutes played and 82 wins for his career.
Road Rebels looking to solidify tournament standing
Despite the loss to the Bulldogs, Ole Miss (19-9, 10-5 SEC) still appears to be a lock for the NCAA tournament come March with key wins over No. 18 Arkansas, Texas A&M, Oregon, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Florida. Overall, the Rebels are 3-5 against the RPI top 50 and 7-6 against the top 100.
Being on the road Saturday may actually work in Ole Miss’ favor as the Rebels are 10-3 away from Tad Smith Coliseum. The 10 wins away from home are the most since the 2012-13 season, when Ole Miss won 12 games on its way to the SEC Championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament. The Rebels 10 road and neutral site wins are tied for 10th in the nation among teams in the RPI top 50, trailing only Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Northern Iowa, Villanova, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wichita State.
Coach Kennedy looking to continue success
With one more win, Ole Miss will reach its seventh 20-win season in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. Before Kennedy’s arrival to the program, the Rebels accomplished only seven 20-win campaigns in the previous 96 seasons.
Kennedy is gaining ground as the head captain of the team. He’s tied with Alabama’s Wimp Sanderson for the third-most wins (190) in SEC history for coaches in their first nine seasons with one program.
But in order for Ole Miss to continue its success heading into March, the Rebels will have to get past LSU (20-8, 9-6), who is currently on a two-game winning streak with wins over Auburn and the Gators.
Scouting the LSU Tigers
The Tigers lead the series against Ole Miss 178-87, including a 77-29 record inside Pete Mavarich Assembly Center. LSU relies on its backcourt of Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin to get the job done night in and night out. Mickey and Martin average a combined 33 points and 19.1 rebounds per contest. So far, the Tigers’ power duo haven’t disappointed under third-year coach Johnny Jones.
In the first meeting between these two storied programs, LSU defeated Ole Miss 75-71 on the Rebels’ home floor. The Tigers’ shooting guard, Keith Hornsby, stole the show from his teammates by scoring 20 of his 23 points in the second half to help LSU ice the victory.
The Tigers are used to getting solid production from 6-foot-10 Martin and 6-foot-8 Mickey, but Coach Jones felt Hornsby’s scoring presence spread the floor for an LSU offense averaging 74 points per game.
Junior college transfer Josh Gray added 14 points and 10 assists for the Tigers in the win. Gray leads the team in assists (4.2).
“That’s good balance and that’s the threat of our basketball team,” Coach Jones said after the Tigers’ win over Ole Miss on January 14. “Our perimeter players are capable of making plays in a big-time way.”
The Tigers, who currently sit fifth in the league standings, have four players averaging in double figures, including Hornsby (12.7 ppg), who has made 57 3-pointers in league play. On defense, LSU leads the conference in rebounding, snagging 38.5 rebounds per game, and has blocked a league-best 6.7 shots per contest. Mickey actually leads the nation with 101 blocks, for an average of 3.74 per game.
Because Ole Miss is tied for third place in the league (with A&M), with LSU a mere one game behind, Saturday’s contest could have major implications when it comes to seeding in both the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
Where to catch the game
Ole Miss and LSU tip off at 1:00 pm Saturday in Baton Rouge. The game will be televised by the Fox Sports Network, with James Bates calling the play-by-play. It will also be available online at WatchESPN.com.
The game will be broadcast on the Ole Miss Radio Network with David Kellum handling the play-by-play duties. On satellite radio, the game can be heard on Sirius 93 and XM 190.
(Featured image courtesy of Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)