Ole Miss basketball concludes its 2015-16 regular season in Knoxville Saturday, home of a very good dog, irate smoked meat tube Butch Jones, and hapless Rick Barnes. And it's Rick Barnes' club that'll play host this weekend to a Rebel team that at 19-11 (9-8 SEC) has little-to-no chance of making this year's NCAA Tournament. Tennessee's situation is somehow worse.
It feels odd that Saturday's romp in Thompson-Boling Arena marks the first time these squads have met under Barnes' directorship, insofar as Volunteer basketball's airhorn levels of chicanery seem to resonate in every direction year after year. Bruce Pearl's squads always came to play, sure, but there was ever the hint that the wheels might come tumbling off the bus at any minute. Better still was diminutive dodgeball Donnie Tyndall's ill-starred year in Knoxville, which saw the Vols finish 16-6 (7-11 SEC) last season and the former Southern Miss frontman out on his ass before April had even begun.
Ole Miss is fresh off a beauty of a beatdown over Mississippi State last Wednesday, a night that saw Stefan Moody flip into overdrive for a career-high 43 points on 11-of-24 shooting from the field. Young Moody is still the sixth-best scorer in the country, and with even a pedestrian outing on Saturday he should reel in the conference scoring title, since Rocky Top's team-leading Kevin Punter is reportedly shutting down his season.
With Punter out, it appears Moody has locked up SEC scoring title. Ulis, Simmons would have to have a ridiculous close, Moody a poor one.— Daniel Paulling (@DanielPaulling) March 4, 2016
With a win Saturday, the Rebels will secure no worse than a No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament next week, which would force them into a four-game win-or-go-home gauntlet not outside the realm of possibility -- but then again nor is "having a good time in Fayetteville, Ark." outside the realm of possibility.
Here's hoping, then, that the Basketbears can continue whatever momentum was gained Wednesday against #CLANGA, and that Andy Kennedy can start 1-0 against a longtime fixture of the Big 12.
How to watch:
Game Time: 11 a.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online Streaming: WatchESPN