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Three keys for Ole Miss against Missouri

Three keys for Ole Miss against Missouri

Saiz (shown here against MSU) scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds in the Rebels’ last matchup vs. Mizzou. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Ole Miss survived a scare the last time it faced Missouri, Jan. 21 in Columbia, sliding by the Tigers, 75-71, behind Sebastian Saiz’s 19 points and 10 rebounds. On Saturday, both programs will meet for the second time this season, with postseason hopes on the line for the Rebels.

Ole Miss (17-11, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a victory at Mississippi State on Tuesday night–giving the Rebels a season sweep over the Bulldogs–and now they are looking to win their remaining three games as they move closer to the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament next month and a possible bid to the NCAA Tournament.

But first, the Rebels have to take care of business at home Saturday (2:30 p.m., SECN) against a Missouri team starving for a win after losing its last three games by three, 20, and 10 points.

The Tigers haven’t won a game since defeating Vanderbilt at home on Feb. 11, 72-52.

Ole Miss has won six straight against Missouri (7-20, 2-13) and five of its last seven SEC games. The Rebels lead the series against the Tigers 7-1 and are 3-0 in games played in Oxford.

Three keys for Ole Miss against Missouri

1. Limit power forward Kevin Puryear

Going into the first meeting, Mizzou sophomore forward Kevin Puryear was struggling in league play, making just 5 of his last 26 shot attempts, but he broke out of the funk against Ole Miss. He led all scorers with 26 points to go with eight rebounds. He made 11 of 14 from the field, including hitting all four of his 3-point attempts. Puryear was part of the reason Missouri was able to keep up with the Rebels in the first meeting.

Ole Miss will need to throw multiple big bodies against Puryear, who saw a swarm of big, athletic post players in the Tigers’ 72-62 home loss against No. 11 Kentucky on Tuesday night. He managed to score just four points on 1 of 11 shooting and grab eight rebounds in 35 minutes.

2. Guard against the 3

The Tigers were able to get great looks at the rim from 3-point range in the first meeting, converting on 11 of 25 shots from deep. Cullen VanLeer made 3 of 6 attempts, Jordan Barnett made 2 of 5, and Puryear was a perfect 4 for 4. Missouri is last in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage, hitting just 28.8 percent of its attempts. The Tigers are also last in the league in field goal percentage, making just 39.4 percent of their attempts.

Terence Davis (3) finished with 10 rebounds against MSU. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

3. Win the battle of offensive rebounds

Missouri was a plus 10 (17-7) in offensive rebounds in the first meeting. The Tigers also won the rebounding battle, 48-34. Ole Miss ranks third in the SEC, pulling down 39.2 rebounds per game. The Rebels are fifth in the league with a +2.3 rebounding margin. Rebounding will be a major key for Ole Miss as Kennedy’s team looks to keep Missouri from winning its third SEC game of the season.

Game info: 

Ole Miss and Missouri tip off at 2:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday, February 25 in The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. Matt Steward will call the play-by-play, and Barry Booker will handle analyst duties.

(Feature image credit: Josh 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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