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Matt Insell and Rebels face No. 15 A&M tonight, followed by gauntlet of tough SEC teams

Matt Insell and Rebels face No. 15 A&M tonight, followed by gauntlet of tough SEC teams

Coach Matt Insell couldn’t let himself dwell on how Ole Miss played in its 85-65 loss to Florida Sunday afternoon, and that’s mainly because he knew he had to prepare for the Rebels’ next five games, a tough stretch which features match-ups against five Southeastern Conference teams that are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

Gauntlet begins with Aggies tonight 

That gauntlet of conference games will start tonight (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network+) when the Rebels travel to College Station to take on 15th-ranked Texas A&M, which defeated LSU 53-35 Sunday afternoon on the road behind senior guard Courtney Walker’s 21 points.

The Aggies (12-4, 2-1) have won five of their last six games, with their only loss coming to Georgia, 73-62, in their SEC opener and after the effort Ole Miss (9-7, 1-2) showed against a more physical Gator team, Insell insisted the Rebels have to get better in a hurry.
Ole Miss has lost two games in a row in conference play after getting off to a solid start with the 55-52 win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 3.

“I’m thinking about what can I do to get this team ready to play Texas A&M on Thursday,” Insell said, after Sunday’s loss, about the Rebels, who committed 21 turnovers against Florida, resulting in 26 points for the Gators. “I’m going to watch our game, then watch about four Texas A&M games and I hope my staff brings me something to eat, because I maybe a little hungry,” he said.

Am I mad what happened on our home floor? Yes, I’m very frustrated. But the next time this team sees this basketball coach, they are going to see someone who has figured something out and gives us a chance to win on Thursday at Texas A&M.

Matt Insell, Ole Miss head coach

Outside of Walker, who is averaging 21.7 points per game in league play, Ole Miss will have its hands full with the Aggies’ senior forward Courtney Williams, the 6-foot-1 Houston, Texas native, who’s averaging 13.6 points per game. Both players have combined to score 485 of Texas A&M’s 1,181 points this season and have the Aggies in great position early on in the second half of the year.

Against Texas A&M, Insell is 0-2 as the Rebels head coach.

Insell sees some “fight” in his players

“I can’t get down, because if we get down, where are we going to go?” Insell said regarding the 20-point loss in the team’s new arena, The Pavilion. “If we get down and we have Texas A&M on Thursday are we going to lay down and get beat by 40? No, we have to figure out a way on how to win,” he added. 

In the loss, I saw some fight in some kids and maybe some of their fight will spill over into some of the other ones. As bad as we played, there are some positives that happened. We got to pull that positive, fix the bad and move forward.

Matt Insell, Ole Miss head coach

More challenges ahead for the young Rebels

After the Rebels take on the Aggies, they will play at No. 7 Mississippi State on Jan. 18, have a home game against No. 9 Kentucky on Jan. 21, hit the road to take on No. 2 South Carolina (Jan. 28), then come back home to face No. 24 Missouri (Jan. 31).

Ole Miss will play three of the five programs again, beginning Feb. 15 when Texas A&M comes to Oxford, then host the Bulldogs on Feb. 21, followed by the Rebels’ last home game of the season against the Gamecocks on Feb. 25.

“Our next two months will be brutal each and every night,” Insell said.

(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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