Ole Miss Rebels vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Basketball Preview and Open Thread

To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left - USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss (13-2, 2-0) travels to Nashville for a bout with Vanderbilt (6-8, 0-2) in an effort to continue the five game winning streak and start 3-0 in SEC play. The big story appears to be that sophomore guard Kedren Johnson (15.7 ppg) is questionable for the game. Johnson drives the lane well, and the Rebels' chances shoot up with him out of the lineup.

It may not even matter though. The Rebels have started SEC play strong, beating Tennessee and Missouri by 18 and 15 points respectively, and Vanderbilt scored a whopping 33 points in their last game (a blowout loss to Arkansas). This isn't the same Commodore team that beat the Rebels by 26 points in Oxford last year. This Vanderbilt team has played some good games, but they lost to Marist by 17 points in their fourth game of the year. They're last in the conference in rebounding margin and last in field goal percentage.

This game will come down to how the Rebels come to play in the game and deal with the most abnormal away atmosphere in college basketball. They'll have to continue to show up strong on defense as they have in their last few games. The press could be a problem for Vandy, as they are tenth in turnover margin and could be playing without a starting guard (Johnson).

If the Rebels do win this game as expected, they face a very winnable next three games (Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn) before hosting Kentucky in Oxford. A 6-0 start in SEC would make that game absolutely enormous. Kentucky isn't as good as they have been for the past few years, but the roster in Lexington is still full of freakish athletes who can beat anyone if they play to their potential. Beating them would be enormous for the program. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Ole Miss has to be consistent and strong to make that game matter. Beating Vanderbilt is the first step.

Ole Miss 72

Vanderbilt 58

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