After a thoroughly satisfying romp over Auburn Wednesday in The Pavilion, Ole Miss hoops wends its way to Manhattan, Kan. and the splendor of Tornado Alley to throw down with Bruce Weber's Kansas State club. Both teams are eight games deep into their respective conference schedules, so this year's Big 12-SEC Challenge offers up an out-of-conference fling before the season's home stretch.
The Wildcats (12-8, 2-6 Big 12) hold a worse record than their quality of basketball perhaps would allow. Their opponents' offensive and defensive production rank in the top 35 according to Ken Pomeroy, and they've taken both No. 19 West Virginia and No. 14 Baylor to double overtime losses. Viewed another way, K-State has played six ranked teams -- including No. 9 UNC and No. 2 Oklahoma -- and lost to all of them.
For Ole Miss, whose NCAA Tournament aspirations rely on virtually every game from now until season's end, a road win against a decent hostile can only help the dancing résumé. Like last season's wins over Creighton and Cincinnati and then at Oregon, the Rebs' ability to travel and play well against teams they otherwise wouldn't ever see catches the eye of many a selection committee member. But then so do losses to George Mason, Seton Hall and Mississippi State.
Still, it'd be a disservice to count out Andy Kennedy's rambling band just yet, who've shown an acumen for coming through in distant climes. The Basketbears downed UMass, 74-64, way back in December on a random weekend road trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame. On the other hand, Ole Miss is just 5-5 on the road this season, so really all hell could break loose Saturday.
The tale of the tape initially tips in the Wildcats' favor, though. Ole Miss is scoring 75.7 to K-State's 72.7 points per outing, but the Rebs' woeful defense is allowing 72.2 points per game to the Wildcats' 66.9, which is remarkable considering UNC, West Virginia and Oklahoma have hung 80-plus on them this season. A win Saturday, then, will require a Herculean effort from Stefan Moody and a vintage down under game from Martavious Newby.
How to watch:
Game Time: 1 p.m. CT
Online Streaming: WatchESPN