Ole Miss kept itself from dropping to 0-6 in conference play over the weekend, and now the team hosts No. 16 Auburn tomorrow with a chance to log its biggest win of the season.
Is it crazy to think the Rebels will upset Auburn in Oxford? Yeah, it’s almost certifiably insane even though the Tigers are 2-2 in true road games this year, and Ole Miss is 7-3 at home with one of the conference’s leading scorers in Breein Tyree.
The Tigers are 17-2, ranked in the top-25, and they have Bruce Pearl at the helm. The conference championship is absolutely a possibility for this talented team. Ole Miss is sitting at 11th in the conference and is looking like a sub .500 record for the second time in three years if things don’t radically change.
Auburn is running deeper with nine players seeing action in every game this season while Ole Miss is sitting at only three players with action in every game and another three who missed just one game this year. The Rebels have to avoid foul trouble, play at a very high level, and hope for an unlikely dream to come true.
College basketball is built for upsets like the game tomorrow night, and it makes the sport very watchable even when your team is down on its luck. Ole Miss students can absolutely make the Pavilion an unbelievable atmosphere on Tuesday and affect the outcome of the game, in fact we’d say the best plan for Tuesday is to be there when doors open and find the Coors Light stand as quickly as possible.
Because it needs to be loud. Ole Miss is going to need every fan in attendance on its feet and screaming for 40 minutes and feeding energy to this team. Proper hydration is an absolute necessity.
Head coach Kermit Davis is not new to these David-Goliath type situations either. In 2016, he led his Middle Tennessee State team to an upset over Michigan State in a 15-seed vs. 2-seed first round match in the NCAA Tournament. He knows how to get his team ready to make the impossible, possible, and during his post-game comments after the Georgia game Saturday, Davis said overcoming an adverse start is about not pressing or coming down hard on the players.
What is working in Ole Miss’ favor is how terrible Auburn has looked recently on the road so far in SEC play as well. A 22-point loss at Florida and a 19-point loss at Alabama are not indicative of this team’s ability and talent, but they have shown lapses at least. Additionally, Saturday is one of the biggest games of the entire season for not only Auburn, but the entire conference will be watching the Auburn-Kentucky game as the only top 25 SEC teams square off.
There’s a potential the Tigers look ahead a little bit to being home, eating Mama Goldberg’s regular ass tasting sammiches, and playing a huge game against John Calipari’s Wildcats. This is all the intangible junk that surrounds any college basketball game, and it may not amount to more than a basket or two tomorrow in Oxford.
But if Ole Miss could pull off the improbable win, it would cause a significant jump in its postseason chances (NIT you guys, calm down) and erase much of the bad memories so far this season.