Amid a four-game winning streak during conference play, the Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Oxford on Tuesday night to take on a struggling Ole Miss men’s basketball team. As has been the case since the start of the season, the spotlight will be on Alabama’s five-star freshman point guard Collin Sexton, whose play has brought in a new era of basketball to the school.
Sexton has been limited in several games this season and has missed the past two games because of an abdominal injury sustained against Texas earlier in the season. However, the Tide has not faltered. In fact, it’s looked strong in its past four games. Freshman sharpshooter guard John Petty has been taking over and putting up impressive performances. Starting in his place against a red-hot Auburn team last week, Petty went 8 for 13 and finished the game with 27 points.
As of right now, Sexton will be a game-time decision against the Rebels. His injury is seen as day-to-day, and although Alabama is favored to win with his absence, a start from Sexton would certainly sway this game even further in the favor of the Crimson Tide.
What was supposed to be at least an above-average season for the Rebels began with head coach Andy Kennedy bragging in a press conference that he, personally, has never been below .500 in basketball. Now, nearing the end of the college basketball season, Andy Kennedy is two losses away from losing those personal bragging rights.
The very apparent lack of depth for the Rebels has reared its ugly head repeatedly this season as the squad routinely struggles to find scorers off the bench and hold early leads. In their last game at Arkansas, the Rebels lost 97-93. Of those 93 points scored, only 12 came from the bench.
In addition, Ole Miss’ offensive athleticism just cannot seem to transfer over to the defensive end of the court. This ineffective defense is why the Rebels repeatedly lose high-scoring games. Weak interior defense and a lack of end-of-shot-clock pressure are the two most glaring issues for the Rebel group. With players such as Dominik Olejniczak, the first 7-footer in Andy Kennedy’s era, the roster lists multiple players with the tools to do this effectively, but the Rebels cannot put the pieces together.
On a run of mediocre, bordering below-average play, expect the Rebels to drop to .500 on Tuesday night with the Tide in town. If Collin Sexton is able to play, expect the point margin to be even larger. Alabama’s elite guard play combined with increased physicality and depth on both ends of the court will neutralize Ole Miss’ offensive production and hand the Rebels their 10th overall loss, fifth in conference.