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Ole Miss basketball enters crucial 6-game stretch to close the season

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Time to sip that tea. Hard.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Only six games remain in the Ole Miss Rebels regular season of real, live American college basketball.

And somehow this motley crew who no one picked to be better than maybe 10th in the league and maybe 17 or 18 wins for the year sits tied for fourth with an 18-7 overall and 8-4 conference record. If Kermit Davis isn’t in the running for SEC Coach of the Year, what exactly does the award even really mean? One heck of a job by the first year head coach who regularly sips on that mf tea.

Last week was especially huge for the Rebels so let’s take a look at how Ole Miss went from a team in the NCAA Tournament to a team playing for a better seed in the tournament in a matter of a week.

Pop that daggum jersey.

Marshall Henderson gifs for everyone. Ole Miss went into Auburn’s Yella Wood Arena, faced a fairly raucous crowd, and came out with an impressive 60-55 win.

Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler shouldered the scoring load combining for 37 points, but the overall game planning took the cake in this one. Auburn never seemed to be comfortable on offense, never could really get in transition or running like they wanted to, and shots from beyond the arc just seemed to never fall (5-of-20 for the game).

The tempo was also markedly slower as Ole Miss controlled the game and slowly salted away any chances for a last minute comeback. The Rebels and Tigers combined for only 100 shots in the game - compare that to 115 shots in the Rebels previous road game against Georgia, a marked difference.

This is clearly a nice statement win on the road for the Rebels who have a 4-2 SEC road record this season including an OT loss at Florida. The win at Auburn and the win on the road in Starkville against Mississippi State are both strongly pulling the Rebels resume in the right direction.

M-I-Z-L-L-L

When Mizzou entered the SEC, I fully prepared myself for them to take hold as one of the contenders for the conference crown in basketball on a year in and year out basis.

What in the heck is going on in Columbia? Mizzou looked completely out of sorts as the Rebels at times were up nearly 20 points in what was later a 10-point victory, 75-65.

The Tigers turned the ball over 25 times to the Rebels 10 as Ole Miss logged 13 steals in the game. This puts team team total at 199 steals for the year, which is totally significant, because they only posted 200 steals all of last season. DEFENSE IS GOOD SIP DAT TEA.

Bruce Stevens led the Rebels in scoring with 17, and Breein Tyree tossed in a dozen for good measure. It was just a very unusual offensive day for the Rebels, and I’m still wondering how in the world they got to 75.

Consequently, this game had a slower tempo overall as Mizzou tried to limit possessions to keep the game tighter than it should have been. What kept the Tigers viable late as well was their massive rebounding margin of +16 against Ole Miss. Rebounding continues to be a hit or miss stat for this team that may be more talent related than fundamental related.

The Missouri win made it four in a row for the Rebels as they enter the home stretch with six games left — three at home and three on the road.

Frank Martin — Please retire and/or give up.

A South Carolina road game in basketball just smells like failure to me. I can’t get my head around how a sub .500 non-conference record has been spun into a 13-12 overall record and 8-4 conference record for the ‘Cocks.

USC and Mizzou have almost identical records and NET standings, so this game could potentially be some kind of precursor to the Rebels final game of the season at Mizzou, which is coincidentally also in the city of Columbia though a different state.

The ‘Cocks are led by senior forward Chris Silva who averages 14 points and 7 rebounds per game to lead the team. Rebel bigs will definitely have their hands full with him down low though freshman KJ Buffen seems to have improved lately in SEC play.

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives Ole Miss a 54.7% percent chance of winning, so I guess flip a few coins at your desk right now and make your bets accordingly on tonight’s game.

A win against USC on the road would also move the Rebels achingly closer to a top four seed in the SEC Tournament, which would award a double bye for Ole Miss.

Bulldogs Back, Rebs go for 11th conference win at home.

Georgia will visit Oxford on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. tip-off after the Rebels dismantled UGA in Athens 80-64.

UGA Coach Tom Crean just doesn’t have what he needs on his roster to compete in the SEC just yet, especially in a hostle road environment. This is a game that Ole Miss shouldn’t lose, and honestly it can’t afford to lose to keep its tournament seeding where it is.

Nicolas Claxton is the best player the Bulldogs have this year, leading the team in points, rebounds and assists. He received a technical foul when he exchanged words with Devontae Shuler in the previous game versus the Rebels after a hard foul under the basket.

Claxton’s father also played at UGA, so maybe yell at him the whole game about how disappointing he is to his father or how he can’t beat his dad in a game of 21 or something.

If the Rebels pull off the victory, it would mark the 11th home win of the season, which would best last year’s total of 10 home wins with two more home contests left to play.

As a fan, you have to be hoping the stars align for another 2-0 week to get the Rebels to 20 wins with four games left to play. Additionally, it would give Ole Miss a chance to possibly sneak back into the top 25 prior to its Feb. 27 game in Oxford vs. top 5 Tennessee.

So how do you think this week will play out? Tweet @redcuprebellion or comment below with your predictions.