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Final four: Ole Miss basketball remains unbeaten as SEC play nears

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NCAA Basketball: Hall of Fame Series-San Antonio-California at Mississippi Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

For only the fourth time in program history, Ole Miss basketball has started its season 10-0 among only four teams in college basketball to do so this year.

The Rebels join Houston, Oklahoma and James Madison as the remaining unbeatens, and it’s hard to tell how good this team really could be down the stretch. SEC play opens up in Knoxville against Tennessee, and the Vols are likely the toughest test for Ole Miss to date. Yes, there was home wins against Memphis and NC State, but traveling to Appalachia to face a top 15 team is a different animal.

Over the next two weeks, Ole Miss will tip off against Troy, Southern Miss and Bryant, and there is now the expectation the Rebels will win those games compared to the start of the season when much was unknown. Fans could very well have a 13-0 program going into the 18-game grind of SEC play and likely a top 25 ranking.

First year coach Chris Beard has taken this program from a place where no one knew what the Rebels would do on any given night and turned it into a winner at least in terms of games Ole Miss “should win.” He’s gotten impact transfers Juju Murray, Brandon Murray, Moussa Cisse and Allen Flanigan to Oxford to transform the roster, and now the team has a few games together to gel before conference play begins.

There’s still a long way to go, and by no means does it look like this team can keep up an undefeated pace deep into the season, right? But for the first time in a while, Ole Miss basketball is in the mix for a NCAA Tournament bid and March Madness seemed like an impossibility at the end of Kermit Davis’ tenure.

Ole Miss and Troy tip off on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the SJB Pavilion in Oxford. The game will be livestreamed on SEC Network+.