They played valiantly, leading by as much as 11 deep into the second half, but in the end the Rebs just didn’t have it in them to surmount the dominance that is No. 3 Baylor this season. Breein Tyree played out of his mind, giving 20 points in 29 minutes of work, and Sebastian Saiz turned in yet another double-double astride 20 and 10.
That Ole Miss held on for a three-point loss is remarkable in and of itself. Even Cullen Neal showed some aggression heretofore not seen. Justas Furmanavicius turned in a dud after playing some stellar ball the last few games, and Deandre Burnett was all out of sorts. Better games from those two, and fewer turnovers down the stretch, and suddenly AK and company are dancing out of The Pavilion atop the shoulders of clamoring fans.
As it is, though, the Rebel hoopmen are hovering at 12-9 (3-5 SEC) without a signature win and few opportunities to grab one this late in the proceedings. No. 23 South Carolina remains on the schedule — the regular season ender — and then there’s the SEC tournament. The team that won its first four games then lost to Creighton in a feverish affair should probably set its sights on the NIT, if not a few registers lower than that.
Now, Mississippi State. The first of two such rivalry games this season after splitting the home-and-home pair last year. Ole Miss beat State 86-78 way back on March 2, 2016 in The Pavilion, and the Rebs’ll get a chance to keep their home floor advantage Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs downright played with Kentucky back on Jan. 17, eventually succumbing 88-81 in a game they had no business keeping within seven. They put the wood on Boise State and UTEP in November’s Charleston (S.C.) Classic, but never got the chance to play tournament winners Villanova. That probably would have gone poorly.
Quinndary Weatherspoon is offering up a cool 17.1 points per game, and he’s backed up by Lamar Peters’ 12.1 per game. Four Rebel scorers are averaging in double digits right now, though to judge from watching Neal play, you’d find his 10.1 average shocking. Whatever the outcome on Tuesday night, this in-state rivalry game will be rife with #SECBasketballFever.
How to watch:
Where: Oxford, Miss.
When: 6 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online Streaming: WatchESPN