Believe it or not, it’s time for conference basketball once again in the Southeastern Conference, and Ole Miss opens on the road to start its 2020-21 slate.
The Rebels (5-1) travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama (5-3) on Tuesday at 8 p.m., and although Kermit Davis’ squad opened with some success this season, the competition is sure to ramp up in the SEC. As of 2:02pm on Dec. 26th, 2020, Ole Miss is tied for the best scoring defense in the country (with fellow SEC member Tennessee), allowing just 52.7 points per game.
Like I just said, however, the competition is about to get tougher, so that number will likely change, but it’s a good sign for the good guys.
Since SEC play is about to start, I thought it would be nice to remind everyone how the media predicted the pecking order of the conference before the season’s first tip.
Preseason Media Poll
- South Carolina
- Ole Miss
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
The media also voted on the All-SEC team before the beginning of the season, and the Tide’s John Petty Jr. made their first team cut. Early this season, Petty is averaging 12 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Jaden Shackelford and Herbert Jones lead the team in scoring per game with 14 and 13.3 points per game, respectively.
Shutting down this combo of scoring will be a stiff test for the seemingly-vaunted Rebel defense on Tuesday night. Still, Alabama comes in at 112th nationally in scoring offense, dropping 76.8 points per game. Ole Miss sits at 144th (74.7).
Even though offense may not be the strongest of suits for both of these teams, Ole Miss has strong guards and post play on the defensive side of the ball. Shuler, White and others have made its presence felt defensively and offensively this season, and if the Rebels can get shots to fall, even though it’s in a road environment, I think the Ole Miss defense is talented enough to keep the Rebels in this game and other games down the road.
The good news is Alabama comes in at 199th among Division-I schools in scoring defense (not good imo), allowing 71.2 points per game, so for an Ole Miss offense that, for the most part, has sought an extra scoring guard in addition to senior Devontae Shuler early-on this season, they may be able to find that on Tuesday. This week’s offensive performance against UT-Martin may have built some confidence in names like Jarkel Joiner as well, and the Rebels could definitely use his shooting ability down the road.
My optimistic side (which is often overshadowed by the constant pain brought on by Ole Miss sports) likes Ole Miss here. My pessimistic side (shining brightly as always) knows the Rebels haven’t seen an SEC team on the hardwood yet. Regardless of what happens, I think we’ll know a lot more about this team on Tuesday night when the clock hits all zeroes.
Line: Ole Miss +2
How to watch
Where: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When: 8:00pm CDT
TV: SEC Network, DTV:611
Online streaming: WatchESPN