USA TODAY Sports
I don't have time for a full preview, so I'm just going to throw some stats up and let you all figure things out for yourselves.
Kentucky's best player, Nerlens Noel averages 10.6 ppg, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 4.3 blocks. He is a 6'10" 228 pound freshman and is likely to be picked within the top three picks of this year's NBA draft. He is a stellar prospect but hasn't had the offensive impact many Kentucky fans expected. He's blocking shots at an alarming rate though, with 7, 6, 7, 7, and 6 blocks in his previous five games. If the Rebels are to beat Kentucky, they can't let Noel take over the game defensively and make us shoot from too far out. I'm a fan of Marshall Henderson and all, but our chance to win this game is to take high percentage shots with our experienced bigs and try to take advantage of a very inexperienced Kentucky team.
Make no mistake: this isn't a good Kentucky team. They're 13-6, 4-2 SEC and inexplicably struggle at times. However, they're very capable of turning it on at any moment. The Wildcats beat Auburn in Auburn by 22 points three games ago. If the Rebels play lackadaisically in the first half, they're unlikely to win it.
That being said, I don't think it will be tough for this squad to get excited in this game. Kentucky is obviously a huge name in college basketball. Last season, they won the NCAA tournament. This win would be huge and could potentially make a strong impact on the Rebels' tournament seeding. Win tonight, and disinterested fans likely stop wondering about whether the team will make the tournament. It becomes a narrative about seeding if the Rebels win tonight.
Unfortunately, I don't expect them to do so.
Kentucky 68 - Ole Miss 63
Game Coverage: ESPN
Game Time: 8 CT / 9 ET