It was never out of the question for Ole Miss to have a slow start in conference play, but that doesn’t make witnessing the losses pile up any more palatable. There have been few comforting indications of progression as Rebel fans have watched Andy Kennedy’s squad plummet in the SEC standings. It’s a relief to see an easier stretch of games coming up, but the team doesn’t appear any closer to settling on a functional, confident rotation of players.
Enter Tennessee, whose 9-8 overall record might not come close to representing the team’s true quality. They’ve played the toughest schedule out of any SEC team, having faced the nation’s fifth and third best mix of offenses and defenses. Rick Barnes wasn’t expected to take a huge jump in his second year in Knoxville, yet they’ve played respectably tight games against Oregon, North Carolina, and Gonzaga.
Ole Miss is coming off its worst offensive stretch of basketball all season, having shot under 30 percent from the field over the past two games. They’ll have a chance to erase their recent shooting drought against a Vols team that’s allowed opponents to shoot 38 percent from three, the highest mark in the SEC.
Whether or not they can actually capitalize on this weakness remains to be seen, as quality looks from beyond the arc have disappeared with Deandre Burnett’s absence. The lack of spacing has had a ripple effect, as Sebastian Saiz made just six of his 19 attempts against Georgia and South Carolina, thanks to a more crowded than usual paint area.
The Rebels could obviously use a bounce-back win, but they’ll be facing a capable team that’s similarly looking forward to an easier matchup.
This one ain't gonna be televised, so fire up your browsers and head over to SEC Network+. See you on the other side.
How to watch:
Where: Oxford, Miss.
Time: 8 p.m. CT
Online Streaming: SEC Network+/WatchESPN