Ole Miss basketball has come into a more clear picture as far as expectations go in the last two weeks.
Prior to entering conference play, all the numbers suggested Rebel basketball would be competitive albeit skeptics likely saw a top ranked defense and the low level competition to be contributing factors. But the rigorous play of the Southeastern Conference has put two things in perspective: Ole Miss (6-4, 1-2 SEC) has a lot of new faces who haven’t “gelled” yet, and the Rebels can’t seem to compete with the better half of the SEC.
Alabama and LSU both notched relatively easy wins against the Rebels — one on the road and one at home. The only SEC win to date is against a short-handed Auburn team, so coach Kermit Davis is likely looking at a road trip to Gainesville against the Florida Gators (5-3, 2-2 SEC) as an uphill climb for his squad.
Florida topped the aforementioned LSU by four on the Exactech Arena court, 83-79, but it has dropped two consecutive conference games since then to SEC undefeateds Alabama and Kentucky. No big shame there, though both were double digit losses.
Ole Miss meanwhile looked completely lost on Saturday, losing 75-61 to LSU. The Rebels shot 35 percent from the floor, and the offensive rut this team is in seems to be more significant than previously believed. While Devontae Shuler was meant to take on the lead scoring role from departed guard Breein Tyree, Shuler has only managed 12.6 points per game thus far this season. Transfer forward Romello White has averaged 11.6 points to add some consistency in the post compared to last season, but the Rebels have not yet found any kind of groove on offense against quality opponents.
Obviously, one of the storylines tonight is former Rebel Mike White is the head coach at Florida, and he’s in his sixth season. The Rebels topped the Gators last season in Oxford, 68-51, so I would imagine White is going to be eager to erase that from his memory tonight.
Florida has four players averaging double digit points per game led by Colin Castleton at 15.8 who is also second in the conference in field goal percentage. The 6-foot-11 junior is going to be a match-up problem most likely for the Rebels unless 6-foot-10 Khadim Sy can play more consistent minutes than he’s shown all season.
Depending on who you enjoy betting with, I would maybe throw a little scratch at the Gators with the home court advantage tonight. Crazier upsets have happened, but I don’t see it in the cards for Ole Miss right now.
Line: Ole Miss +3.5
How to watch
Where: Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.
When: 6:00pm CDT
Online streaming: WatchESPN