The Rebels and Vols each enter the game at 13-7. The Rebels' RPI sits at 77 while the Vols are at 19. A win today would put the Rebels back into the hunt for an outside shot at the tournament. If the Rebels could somehow beat Tennessee and Kentucky (I know; it's laughable at this point), we would be sitting at 3-4 in the conference with a relatively easy slate remaining.
Obviously, we haven't performed too well so far, but the first half of our schedule is front loaded with difficult SEC East teams. The loss to State isn't quite as bad now as it was when it happened. I say all this to say, the season isn't exactly over. If we lose the next two, it probably is.
However, there's reason for optimism.
To say that Tennessee has been a little streaky this season is to say that Egyptians are a little upset with their government. The Vols have beaten Georgia, Vanderbilt, VIllanova, and Pittsburgh. They have lost to the Charlotte 49ers, the College of Charleston Bad Players, and the Oakland Poops (hahahahaha LOL OMG!).
Bruce Pearl won't be coaching this game due to his eight-game suspension from league play for lying to the NCAA. Without Pearl though, the Vols beat Georgia (a team that beat the Rebs by 22) in Athens. At the same time, they lost to Arkansas. They're a tough team to figure out this season, but their offense starts with Scotty Hopson from three and moves to Tobias Harris down low. The duo are averaging 16.5 and 15.1 points each. It would be wonderful to see the Rebels stop Hopson in the way they stopped Ravern Johnson of MSU and not like they "stopped" Trey Tompkins of UGA.
No one has been able to get Tobias Harris into foul trouble this season, but I honestly haven't watched their games to see whether that's a result of Harris not trying on defense or if he's just that disciplined. Brian WIlliams is their only other real option down low but comes in averaging just six points per game. If we can take Harris out of the game, Tennessee will be forced to rely on three pointers. They may have success there, but I'd rather see the ball in hands other than Harris'.
Really, you can obviously say this during any game, but.... we have to win this. If we don't, there's not even an outside chance at a trip to the dance without winning the SEC tournament. It's extremely unlikely for us to get an at-large bid at this point, but wins against Tennessee and Kentucky would really help our cause.
Ole Miss 72
1. Reggie Buckner plays fewer than 20 minutes.
2. The Rebs lead at the half.
3. Chris Warren scores 15 or fewer points.