Andy Kennedy and the Rebel hoopmen rang in the new year in style, with back-to-back wins against Alabama and Georgia on The Pavilion's opening weekend. At 12-3 (2-1 SEC), Ole Miss is currently thrumming along and, like last year, playing well from behind, especially in second halves.
The hoopsters set out on a quick road trip Wednesday, as they rock on down to Baton Rouge for a date with Johnny Jones' LSU Tigers, who are 9-6 (2-1 SEC) and fresh off a crazy upset of No. 9 Kentucky and a crazy loss to unranked Florida. One never knows which LSU squad will show up on any given night, but the same might be said of this season's Rebel club.
One thing that is for certain, though, is Ben Simmons' dominant presence on every square foot of the basketball court. The freshman phenom and likely future No. 1 pick of the NBA draft is currently averaging around 21 points and 13 rebounds per outing, while he's good for about 58 percent shooting from the field. Throw in teammate Keith Hornsby's 16 points per game and the Tigers have scoring threats from all over the damn county.
It's somewhat remarkable that Tim Quarterman -- last year's triple-double hammer in Baton Rouge -- has gone relatively quiet this season. Sure, he's averaging up near 13 points per night, but his five rebounds and 3.7 assists per game ring somewhat pedestrian for a guy that dropped 18-10-10 on AK and crew last February. At any rate, and very many thanks to the NBA Draft, Jarell Martin has graciously moved on to more lucrative pastures in Memphis, while Jordan Mickey is fighting his way through D-League ball.
LSU enters Wednesday's scrap ranked No. 56 by Ken Pomeroy's latest reckoning, whereas Ole Miss sits down at No. 89. The Tigers play fast enough to come in at No. 24 in KenPom's adjusted tempo rankings (about 74 possessions per 40 minutes), which could spell danger for a Rebel defensive programme that's still finding its way around the high trap and 1-3-1 zones. Look for Simmons to probe the paint early and often -- and hope that Sebastian Saiz is up for the work.
How to watch
Game Time: 8 p.m. CT
Online Streaming: WatchESPN