Ole Miss-West Virginia Basketball Preview

A top 15 squad, 10-1 record and heading into Morgantown, West Virginia to face the #6 Mountaineers...whew, Juco dipped into the well a little bit talking about the ramifications of a win Wednesday night.

Now, we'll see the possibility of that occurring for a nationally televised audience and 14,000 screaming extras from Deliverance at WVU Coliseum.

THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M. THE GAME IS ON ESPN 2 AT 6:30 P.M.

Okay, got that casual fans? I know there's a Cotton Bowl looming and football is not officially over yet, but seriously, WTF else are you going to be doing on a Wednesday before Christmas?

Chris Warren and Terrico White will have to win this game for Ole Miss. They're the best two offensive weapons on our team and are averaging over 30 points per game combined. Warren plays up in big games, and White is looking to solidify his NBA draft stock for a big audience.

Defensively, Ole Miss has to live up to the moniker Andy Kennedy promised when he first came to our beloved university: up-tempo, pressing basketball. Cleveland State nearly beat the #6 Mountaineers with a good full court press and a 2-3 zone that caused issues in the front court. The Rebels have the athleticism to play full court press defense on West Virginia all night. It'll create turnovers and easy points, and in this game, not many things will come easy considering the caustic atmosphere around the court.

Bob Huggins probably knows just about everything about Kennedy. He squeezed out a win against Ole Miss in Oxford last year when the Rebels had the game all but seamed up. Huggins said after the game that Kennedy is nearly unpredictable however, but I just take that for coachspeak. 

Last season, Alex Ruoff led West Virginia to a 80-78 win as the Mountaineers made clutch free throws and caused timely turnovers. Da'Sean Butler banged out a 22 point performance and seems to be the leader of this year's team. He'll be a lot for a young front court to handle even though Reginald Buckner leads the team with 27 blocks. I could see a half-court offense for West Virginia being able to grind out paint points against the Rebels. 

The Mountaineers hold opponents to less than 60 points on average and play in a very competitive Big East conference. Just from looking at statistics, it looks like West Virginia does not defend beyond the arc very well, allowing opponents to shoot around 32 percent. 

This game will be frustrating for Rebel fans, I'm afraid. It's most likely that WVU will get most of the 50-50 balls, rebounds and have an advantage for points in the paint. The Rebels have to win by forcing the Mountaineers to make outside shots, cause turnovers and get into a transition offense. If the game turns into a 1956 Indiana high school basketball game full of half-court offenses, Ole Miss will get outclassed in the game. Wednesday needs to be a loose, high-flying affair for the Rebels to win.

Prediction

West Virginia 79

Ole Miss 74

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