The most played rivalry in the SEC will have a prime-time tip-off tonight as Ole Miss takes on Mississippi State in Oxford.
This will be the 261st game between the Rebels (12-11, 3-7 SEC) and Bulldogs (15-8, 6-4 SEC) with the two teams currently in very different places in terms of resume, but both teams very much needing a win tonight.
MSU is squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament while Ole Miss is on life support in terms of postseason play. The last thing State needs right now is to drop a road game against an underperforming rival, which would probably damage its chances for a tournament bid significantly, and Ole Miss could jump back onto the postseason radar with its third straight SEC win.
The Rebels notched a perfect 2-0 week last week with double digit wins over South Carolina and Florida. Breein Tyree was awarded SEC Player of the Week for his efforts as he averaged more than 30 points per game in the two wins. Ole Miss will obviously need Tyree to play a significant role on offense against two experienced guards from State in Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter.
Most analysts and fans are probably looking at big Reggie Perry to dominate the game, however, as the forward is averaging a double-double for the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Rebels relatively inexperienced bigs will have its hands full, and honestly, they have to rebound better as State averages a +8 margin on the glass.
In its last three home games, Ole Miss has had mixed results in those 50/50 balls. Against Florida, the Rebels were out-rebounded though they won by 17 points, 33-32. And in a heartbreaking one-point loss to Auburn, the Rebels had a -12 rebounding margin. Ole Miss was able to beat South Carolina by 14-points and also win the rebounding battle by 10 boards.
Fans have been implored via social media by coach Kermit Davis, Tyree, and guard/forward Blake Hinson to fill up the Pavilion. Over the weekend, there were less than 1,400 tickets available for tonight’s game, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a “BEAT MSU” button.
Ole Miss lost its last home game against a then No. 21 State team, 81-75, in front of a sold out crowd in the Pavilion.
But you know what? Go get a ticket, grab a cold beer, yell at Ben Howland’s squad, and be the sixth man for this Rebel squad that has at the very least not given up on this season.
Line: MSU -1.5
How to watch
Where: The Pavilion at Ole Miss, Oxford, Miss.
When: 6:00pm CST
Online streaming: WatchESPN