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Kentucky vs. Ole Miss baseball 2016: TV, online streaming and preview

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It's the last home series of the regular season, but the Rebs could be back at Swayze in the postseason if they take care of the Wildcats this weekend.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

With the SEC Tournament looming and the NCAA Selection show coming after, Ole Miss (36-13, 14-10) is still in the running for a spot as a regional host. The Rebs, riding a top-10 RPI and a resume that's been strengthened by Louisville's recent surge, is projected as a host in D1Baseball's most recent field of 64.

This weekend's home series against Kentucky (29-20, 13-11) could go a long way with the committee because there's the potential to add conference wins AND defeat a team top-50 RPI team with impressive series wins over South Carolina and Florida. And the Cats might be getting back on track at the right (or wrong, if you're a Rebel fan) time—after losing three straight SEC series, Kentucky took down the then-No. 6 Gamecocks last weekend, bashing a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 12th on Sunday.

But that was in Lexington. It's been a different story on the road, where Kentucky is 7-8 and lost its last two conference series.

Kentucky does most of their damage at the plate with Evan White (.362, 34 RBI) and Zach Reks (.328, 4 HR). White is third in the SEC with 71 (!) hits and Reks is top 15 in on-base percentage. Riley Mahan (.297, 5 HR) and Dorian Hairston (.280, 5 HR) provide the pop in the middle of the lineup. The most intriguing member of the Kentucky lineup is JaVon Shelby who despite hitting only .223 is slugging .512 and has slapped 11 dingers so far this season. On the mound, UK boasts a damn good weekend arm in Dustin Beggs (8-1, 2.50 ERA) and two talented arms in the bullpen in Sean Hjelle and Justin Lewis (combined 2.23 ERA and 11 saves).

3 big questions

1. Can the Rebs all but lock up a host spot?

Ole Miss has consistently been in the top 10 of the RPI for most of the season thanks to wins over No. 2 Louisville, a surging Coastal Carolina team which has won 21 conference games and the always reliable SEC slate. But there are also some stains on that resume. The sweep at home at the hands of the Gamecocks still stings and the road series loss to Bama could loom large if the Rebs stumble.

Two wins over Kentucky should really set Ole Miss up nicely, but a series loss would completely eviscerate those hopes. A loss this weekend would likely necessitate the Rebs winning their last regular season series against No. 2 Texas A&M. With the Aggies hitting the baseball like it's Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball on Super Nintendo, that's a tall task. So, yeah, this weekend is very important.

2. Can James McArthur bounce back again?

We've seen the freshman pitcher do it before. He struggled in his first two midweek starts at the beginning of the season, allowing seven earned runs in just 5.1 combined innings. But Mike Bianco stuck with him, and Jimmy Lone Star popped his collar by reeling off five straight wins and earning himself the starting Sunday role.

It's been a rocky transition so far. McArthur kept LSU off the board two weeks ago, but only lated 3.1 innings. His outing against Georgia was just as short, but he gave up five earned runs. Tex still has an attractive 5-1 record and 3.35 ERA, but the walks have been an issue for two weeks now. McArthur's rallied back from a pair of rough outings before and the Rebs need him to do it again—not just for this weekend, but down the road as a third starter in a regional.

3. Is Andy Pagnozzi the fourth starter?

The freshman from Fayetteville, Arkansas has been one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen this season, pacing the team with eight wins while walking just six batters over 41.1 innings. But with Chad Smith having proven himself unreliable in the rotation and Sean Johnson nowhere to be found, Pags might be needed as a starter come postseason play. He did start a midweek game earlier this year against UAB and held his own, allowing one run on just two hits over 6.1 innings. But is he more valuable as a middle reliever? You'd like to be able to keep him in the pen, but in a must-win regional scenario you have to throw your best.

The numbers

Complete Ole Miss statsComplete Kentucky stats

Team pitching
Ole Miss UK
ERA 3.24 3.85
Strikeouts 391 354
Walks 164 160
Opponent average .251 .245
Team batting
Ole Miss UK
Runs per game 6.0 5.8
Batting average .275 .271
On-base % .362 .351
Slugging % .401 .417
Dingers 35 44
Steals-Attempts 36-57 36-47

How to watch

Thursday

First pitch: 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: ESPNU
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (6-2, 3.02 ERA)
Kentucky: RHP Zack Brown (2-9, 5.93 ERA)

Friday

First pitch: 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: nope
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: LHP David Parkinson (3-2, 2.68 ERA)
Kentucky: RHP Dustin Beggs (8-1, 2.50 ERA)

Saturday

First pitch: 4 p.m. CT
TV: nope
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP James McArthur (5-1, 3.35 ERA)
Kentucky: RHP Kyle Cody (5-2, 3.86 ERA)