Tonight, at 7:00 central on ESPN2 (meaning that, unless you've got a nice dinner with the significant other or some snotty kids to look after, you have nary an excuse to miss this one), two teams with similar game plans and records thus far will face off as Ole Miss takes on Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss has been somewhat hot as of late, with only a narrow loss, featuring an Ole Missian blown lead, to Florida blemishing the record over the past couple of weeks. Alabama, on the other hand, saw their recent defeat of Arkansas snap a four-game losing streak, making them harder to peg momentum-wise.
Both teams are great defensively, with Ole Miss ranking third in the SEC and 32nd nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.394) and Alabama ranking second in the league and sixth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.373) while holding their opponents to a conference-best 58 points per game.
Alabama is 9-2 (2-1) at home, with losses in Tuscaloosa to Georgetown and Vanderbilt. They do an excellent job at home, all things considered. On offense, the Tide averages 66.2 ppg with three players - JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell, and Trevor Releford - averaging double digit points a game.
When I look back on this season thus far, I can't help but think of what could have been - such is the dilemma of the Ole MIss basketball fan. Obviously the 20-point loss to LSU was a flat-out abberation, but had the Rebels been able to hold on against Florida or pull it out in double-overtime against Auburn, we'd be looking at a team sitting at 2nd or 3rd in the conference, with the teeth of the SEC schedule left to play. Instead, we've got a 4-3 team with most of its toughest opponents remaining on the schedule, fighting to maintain it's position within the SEC to, hopefully, earn an NCAA tournament berth.
Seeing this team's performances against Florida and Mississippi State has shown me that they are talented and capable enough to pull this game out. It's really just a question of whether or not they'll put it together.
OLE MISS (RPI 40) vs. ALABAMA (RPI 36)
7:00 PM CENTRAL
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