Kermit Davis’ Year 1 at the helm of the hoop men in Oxford has produced a roaring start. At 11-2 and coming off an impressive win over Vanderbilt, Davis is just the third Rebel hoops coach to begin a season in this fashion (Andy Kennedy is one of the other two).
Kermit’s start has been very surprising, and in all the best ways. His players are racking up conference accolades in just the first week of SEC play, with Breein Tyree hauling in player of the week honors after dropping 31 points on Vanderbilt in a statement win over the Commodores.
With those considerations in mind, the Basketsharks turn their attentions to No. 12 Auburn on Wednesday night in Oxford. Bruce Pearl’s outfit currently sits with the same record as the Rebs’ 11-2, but the Tigers’ meeting with Terence Davis and company Wednesday will be their first conference dustup of the season.
While Ole Miss’ two losses to Butler and Cincinnati are nothing to snort at, Auburn’s two losses have come at the hands of two members of the research triangle, No. 1 Duke and NC State. The Tigers own wins over Xavier, Arizona, and No. 25 Washington. That’s an impressive row of probable NCAA tournament contenders, and their top eight players in consistent rotation are studded with junior and senior experience. Guards Bryce Brown (senior) and Jared Harper (junior) are each averaging on either side of 15 points per outing, and they sit on top of two other regular double-digit scorers.
One probable storyline to follow on Wednesday will be how Davis and Tyree match up against their oversized counterparts outside in Brown and Harper. Both Tyree and Davis have steadily improved their respective games from season to season while in Oxford, but they’re certainly on the slighter side when compared to Harper and Brown. Down low, the Rebs also sport a comparable size disadvantage, but it’s not as pronounced. There, the issue will be depth and talent disparities.
Either way, this game shapes up to deliver a doozy.
Final score predictions aside, Ole Miss has a Herculean task on its hands against last year’s SEC champions. Pearl’s club has returned a bevy of talented starters, and they appear to have picked up right where they left off last year.
Needless to say, Kermit’s shop will need a complete effort from every contributor in his rotation to rip off an upset win at home. And let us not forget that this week marks the six-year anniversary of Marshall Henderson popping his jersey into the stuff of SEC basketball .GIF legend.
How to watch
Where: The Pavilion, Oxford, Miss.
When: 6 p.m. CT
TV: ESPN2 (!)
Online streaming: WatchESPN