Even outside the world of college sports, very few trips to College Station don't end in disaster, and disaster is exactly what transpired last Tuesday after the Rebels dropped a nasty 71-56 loss to Texas A&M in Reed Arena. That the final difference was 15 points in a game where the Aggies were favored by 9.5 stings all the worse for those that saw free money in laughing at the spread.
Andy Kennedy thus brings a beleaguered club to Auburn Saturday, in hopes of ruining Bruce Pearl's night a second time this season. The Rebels are 16-10 (6-7 SEC) and 3-2 in the month of February, while Auburn, at 10-15 (4-9 SEC), is nursing a 1-4 record this month. The Tigers are getting burned on the defensive end, where they're retching up 78.4 points per outing, which is good for dead last points-against in the conference. With 66.8 offensive points per game, Pearl's men are scraping around at 12th in the SEC.
Much of Auburn's woes of late are a function of Kareem Canty's indefinite suspension, which benched the team's leading scorer back on Feb. 6. Without Canty's 18.3 points per night, Tyler Harris and Cinmeon Bowers have had to pull more weight, but even then, their efforts have yielded just 61.8 points per outing -- including a 90-point bucket fest in a win over Arkansas last Wednesday.
Ole Miss, for its part, is suffering from offensive production anemia of its own, especially in the form of the once deadeye sharpshooter Stefan Moody. His injury in the South Carolina game may still have some lingering aftereffects, seeing as dude is averaging 19 points per game since his return. Furthermore, he's shooting just 31.4 percent from long range in that time, including an 0-7 night against Arkansas on Feb. 13. For the season, Stef's still riding 35.5 percent from beyond the arc -- Marshall Henderson averaged 34.6 percent in his two years at Ole Miss -- but that number is buttressed by strong showings before the injury and against the likes of, say, Towson.
It's of course unfair to lay all the team's struggles at the feet of Moody: Sebastian Saiz is still finding his fitness and rhythm following his return, and Martavious Newby seems to checkout for long stretches at a time. Barring those injuries to Stef and Sebas in the middle of the conference table, the Rebs' season this year holds a strong stench of "what if?" about it.
How to watch:
Game Time: 4 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online Streaming: WatchESPN