Three keys for Ole Miss against Auburn
Ole Miss heads into today’s game against Auburn looking for its 10th straight win over the Tigers. The last time these two teams met was back on Jan. 7, 2017 inside Auburn Arena. The Rebels got the best of Auburn, 88-85, to win their first Southeastern Conference game of the season.
Saturday’s game is more meaningful than the first meeting, largely because there are only seven league games left to be played, and there’s simply no room for a “bad” loss if the Rebels want to keep postseason hopes alive. Ole Miss lost 75-66 to Tennessee on the road Wednesday night. The Rebels led for most of the second half but allowed the Volunteers to rally with a 15-2 run to end the game.
Ole Miss (14-10, 5-6 SEC) went into the game against the Vols tied for sixth place in the SEC. Now, the Rebels are ninth in the league, while the Tigers sit at seventh place. The game offers Ole Miss an opportunity to move up another spot, depending on the outcome of the remainder of league games this weekend.
Auburn (16-8, 5-6) is currently on a two-game winning streak, with victories over Alabama and Mississippi State. The Tigers have won four of their last six SEC games, after opening conference play 1-4. Auburn is playing relatively tough on the road, currently boasting a 5-3 away-record.
Turnovers, poor shot selection, and the inability to get to the free throw line in the second half hurt the Rebels in the loss to Tennessee. These areas will need to improve for Ole Miss to move up in the SEC standings.
Three keys for the Rebels against Auburn
1. Get back to limiting turnovers
In the three games prior to its matchup against the Volunteers, Ole Miss was averaging only eight turnovers a game. Against Tennessee, the Rebels committed 18 turnovers–which led to 19 points for the Volunteers. To prevent easy scoring from Auburn, the Rebels will have to take better care of the basketball.
2. Get to the foul line
Against Tennessee, Ole Miss made 6 of 8 shots from the free throw line in the second half. The Volunteers made 17 of 27 shots in the second half, which proved to be one of the main reasons Tennessee was able to stay within striking distance until it made its pivotal run.
The Rebels have to be more physical and active on the offensive end against the Tigers Saturday (5:00 p.m., SECN) in order to get to the foul line. Ole Miss is a solid free-throw shooting team, currently ranking second in the SEC only behind Vanderbilt, with the Rebels hitting 74.7 percent (463 of 620) of their foul shots.
3. Deandre Burnett
The Rebels have depended on Sebastian Saiz each game and he has delivered. True freshman point guard Breein Tyree is playing extremely well for Ole Miss, but the Rebels also need to be able to lean on Deandre Burnett for stability. Burnett scored eight points Wednesday night against the Volunteers. He currently leads the team in scoring with an average of 16.5 points per game, which ranks fifth in the league. With seven league games left, and Ole Miss’ hopes of a solid seed in Nashville at stake, the Rebels need Burnett to average in double figures for the remaining games.
Ole Miss and Auburn tip off at 5:00 p.m. (CT) in The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The game will be televised on SECN. The Rebels are a five-point favorite heading into the game.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
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.