Ole Miss endured a rugged stretch to begin SEC play as its front-loaded schedule included Kentucky and Florida in its first two games followed by road tests at Auburn and South Carolina, with Georgia at home in between. It equated to a 1-4 start in league play, but the Rebels survived and have now won back-to-back SEC contests against Tennessee and Missouri as they find themselves in a crucial stretch.
Ole Miss (12-7, 3-4) welcomes Texas A&M (10-8, 2-5) on Wednesday night as it tries to get back to the .500 mark in SEC play. It will likely do so without senior guard Rasheed Brooks, who has not participated in any physical activity since collapsing on the floor and suffering a seizure in a game against Tennessee. The loss put strain on the Rebels’ bench, and tested their depth as they finished that game with just seven players. Junior guard Deandre Burnett returned on Saturday against Missouri after missing the two previous games with a sprained ankle, which helped the team immensely, giving it not only another healthy body and its leading scorer back, but another ball handler on a team that is thin at guard.
“I had a feeling in my head once I kneew (Ra)sheed (Brooks) wasn’t going to play that I was at least going to give it a go and go out there and see how I do,” Burnett said. “Most of it was adrenaline.”
That adrenaline fueled him to 14 points and four assists in 36 minutes on his return.
Newly minted SEC player of the week Terence Davis has stepped up in the absence of Burnett and Brooks, posting a double-double in his last two games and giving the Rebels a lift – and more importantly some scoring – when it was badly needed.
“I’m just proud that he’s competing at a high level,” head coach Andy Kennedy said. “He is still very much a work in progress, but things have changed. He played 39 minutes against Missouri, took a career-high 16 shots. He’s had back-to-back 20 and 10 games. He’s an athletic guy and we need him to make athletic plays.”
Ole Miss will need all hands on deck as it faces an A&M team that has yet to find its footing, but has wins over the likes of Georgia and Virginia Tech and lost a pair of tough contests to USC, UCLA and Arizona in a challenging non-conference stretch. Center Tyler Davis leads the Aggies in scoring at 13.4 points per game and grabbing nearly seven rebounds per game. He’ll be a tough match up inside for an Ole Miss team that is second in the SEC in rebounding.
It’s another week of opportunity for the Rebels as it gets a chance to get to 4-4 in SEC play, and then gets a great RPI chance when fifth-ranked Baylor comes to town on Saturday. The Rebels’ haven’t hurt themselves with any bad losses, but are in need of a marquee win.
Tipoff between Ole Miss and Texas A&M is set for 6:30 p.m.