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Ole Miss hoops takes on Georgia and South Carolina this week

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First in Oxford, then in Columbia, the Rebs can pick off a pair of big conference wins.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

It was more or less ordained that Ole Miss would split last week’s pair of road games at Florida and Auburn, what with the Gators in the top 25 and the Tigers, well, being not good right now. That the Rebs pulled to within seven in Gainesville and simply out-gutted their opponents on the Plains was encouraging, though, following a mediocre-to-fine non-conference run and an assisted suicide against Kentucky.

It ain’t easy to play in Auburn, and the Basketbears haven’t lost to the Tigers since Marshall Henderson popped his jersey into college basketball lore, thus solidifying the most hate-filled rivalry in CBB hoops that nobody cares about. Whatever, old man, go stand and menace some 21-year-old gunner elsewhere; the Rebs are on a nine-game winning streak over your Tigers.

(Shoutout to Ole Miss Twitter, by the way, for tweeting that GIF, like, a zillion times after Saturday night’s win — you’re all the best — now here’s another, just for the hell of it.)

Love you, Hendo.

Tale of the tape: Georgia.

ANYWAY, Ole Miss hosts a middling-to-goodish Georgia club on Wednesday night (6 p.m. CT, ESPNU and WatchESPN), and the Bulldogs are fresh off a doozy of a win over Missouri that saw both teams’ coaches engage in some good old fashioned brawlin’. Let’s go to the video:

Altogether unclear why this scrum broke out, but it’s perfectly clear that assistants from both sides threw a pair of admittedly weak punches. Both teams were assessed technical fouls, but neither shot free throws. They each started with one team foul at the beginning of the second half.

It’s tough to figure this Georgia team out. The Bulldogs lost a handful of senior leaders from last year’s NIT team, and this year they rank outside of the top 100 in every major statistical category save free throw percentage (yeah, we know). Still, at 10-5, they’re No. 59 in KenPom’s current rankings and are allowing just 95.6 points per 100 possessions, good for 38th in the country.

Ole Miss’ scoring rate is considerably better, though, with the Rebs gaining 110.2 points per 100 possessions to the Bulldogs’ 107.2. Both teams are allowing fewer points than they score, and so the difference in this game will probably come down to field goal percentages and timely turnovers. Y’know, just like every game between these teams.

Tale of the tape: South Carolina.

Cocky is playing very good basketball this season. Last year’s greatest NCAA Tournament snub has lit a fire under its ass and is currently 2-0 in SEC play. The Gamecocks played Texas A&M close for 35 minutes on Saturday, then went blitzkrieg on a 16-5 run to shut the Aggies down in Columbia, 79-68. Ole Miss gets to tango with them on Saturday (5:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU and WatchESPN).

Ranked No. 32 by KenPom currently, SCAR is 12-3 with losses to Seton Hall and, inexplicably, Clemson and Memphis. They’re 2-0 in conference play, however, having already beaten Georgia in Athens, Michigan and Syracuse. Furthermore, the Cocks are 9-0 with senior phenom Sindarius Thornwell in the lineup, whose 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game average mark him as Frank Martin’s offensive centerpiece.

Most strikingly, Carolina hasn’t been getting things done with scoring — not always, that is. At 72.1 points per game, the Gamecocks rank just No. 226 in the country in per-game offensive production. Their defense, on the other hand, is ranked No. 10 in the country, giving up just 60 points per game. SIXTY. SIX ZERO. Only Louisville and Cincinnati are playing better defense right now.

Carolina’s allowed 70 or fewer points to all but two of their opponents this season, and only Memphis has crested that mark against them since their season opener on Nov. 11. Worse still, according to Pomeroy, Cocky’s 89.6 points per 100 possessions is the third best defensive efficiency rating in college basketball. It’ll be a miracle if Andy Kennedy’s men can break 70 on Saturday, but they’ve got it in them to do it.