The Ole Miss basketball team has gone from a promising non-conference start to an absolute free fall in the last couple weeks.
And tonight’s game against LSU (12-4, 4-0 SEC) is going to be a challenging game to try and reverse the trend. The Rebels (9-7, 0-3 SEC) are coming off a 16-point loss to Florida on the road but were without starters Breein Tyree (back contusion) and Khadim Sy (coach’s decision).
Head coach Kermit Davis had a pretty significant portion of his experience as a coach at LSU, spending five years in Baton Rouge as an associate head coach. The last time Ole Miss and LSU played, the Tigers won by 14 in Oxford over No. 18 Ole Miss ending a 10-game winning streak last season.
LSU is currently receiving votes in the national polls but are not yet ranked, however, they possess a very balanced offensive attack with five players averaging more than 10 points per game. For a team that scores 80 points per game, the athletic Tigers get up and down the court quickly, but they have three very solid big men in Darius Days, Trendon Watford, and Emmitt Williams who collectively grab 20 rebounds per game.
Skylar Mays leads the Tigers in scoring, shooting nearly 40 percent from behind the arc. It will be imperative the Rebels find an answer to stopping or slowing down Mays to stay close in this game.
One thing working in the Rebels favor is home court advantage assuming everyone is available to play tonight. When the Rebels faced off against Arkansas last week, Ole Miss seemingly had the game in hand late in the game, playing 28-30 quality minutes of basketball before losing the lead late.
The Tigers and Hogs are pretty evenly matched teams, so I would expect potentially a similar outcome — a very close game especially if Ole Miss can protect the perimeter.
Tyree has obviously got to play great, lead the team in scoring, and he has to have more complimentary help from Blake Hinson who had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Florida in his best game yet this year.
The biggest challenge for Ole Miss is the number of new players it has on its roster who haven’t faced the grind of SEC play. It’s a noticeable gap from the starters to the guys on the bench especially in these games, so the starting five will be looked to for the bulk of success.
Tonight’s game also is the debut for head football coach Lane Kiffin and his entire coaching staff for fans. There will undoubtedly be recruits there as well, lots of Quad City DJ’s and train references and also THERE ARE COLD BEERS FOR SALE.
So grab some red (the game is a “red out”), get on over to the Pavilion, and scream FBI jokes at the LSU basketball team.
Line: LSU -4
How to watch
Where: The Pavilion at Ole Miss, Oxford, Miss.
When: 7:00pm CST
Online streaming: WatchESPN