Preseason SEC predictions be damned - Ole Miss and top 25 South Carolina will face off in one of the biggest conference games yet this season on Tuesday.
The Gamecocks (19-3, 7-2 SEC) were picked dead last before the season started, and the Rebels (18-4, 5-4 SEC) didn’t fare much better at 10th in prognostications. Maybe those terrible predictions were just the kick in the ass these two programs needed to decide to shake things up this year.
Ole Miss has struggled on the road in SEC play this season with only a win at Texas A&M on the books thus far. Meanwhile, South Carolina has won all of its SEC home games except for Georgia (74-69).
Halfway through conference play, the Rebels have won one more than it has lost, but the second half of its schedule looks tougher starting with the Gamecocks. ESPN Analytics gives USC a 72 percent chance of winning with Vegas putting a -4.5 spread against the Rebels.
Juju Murray and Matthew Murrell will have to lead the way in terms of scoring, but the biggest threat is keeping Meechie Johnson from having a big night. The junior guard has the ability to score 20 or more, and with an expected full arena in Columbia, the leading scorer getting hot is one thing that can’t happen.
Down low, BJ Mack for USC will be a challenge on the boards, which has been a theme for this Ole Miss team. Mack averages more than 13 points and five rebounds per game, but at 6’8”, the Rebels should have a size advantage with dual seven footers Moussa Cisse and Jamarion Sharp as long as it doesn’t get caught switching defensively.
This should be a hell of a game if both teams play to its potential. Ole Miss needs the win more right now, and undoubtedly Chris Beard knows his squad is needing to make a splash after stumbling at home to Auburn.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.