After suffering its first loss of the conference season, No. 16 Ole Miss will look to get back in the win column on the road at No. 4 Florida. The Rebels will be without sophomore forward Aaron Jones and senior guard Nick Willaims. Tipoff on Saturday is set for 6 p.m. and will televised by ESPNU.
Ole Miss (17-3, 6-1 SEC) will look to bounce back its first Southeastern Conference loss when it travels to No. 4 Florida (17-2, 7-0 SEC) on Saturday.
Florida sits alone atop the SEC standings after a 75-36 trouncing of South Carolina on Wednesday.
The Gators have won their conference games by an average margin of 28.3 points per game, with the closest game being a 17-point win over Georgia.
Florida is a 9-0 at home this season with its two losses on the road against Arizona and in Kansas City against Kansas State.
The Gators lost those two games by a combined eight points.
Senior Erik Murphy could present a matchup problem for Ole Miss. The 6-foot-10 forward is second on the team in 3-pointers made.
Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer scored 26 points and knocked down five 3-pointers in the Wildcats’ 87-74 win against the Rebels on Tuesday.
“Erik Murphy is a bigger, better, more experienced version of Kyle Wiltjer,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said.
“We’ve got to do a better job at the point of attack.”
Florida is a well-balanced scoring team with four Gators averaging more than 11 points per game, led by senior guard Kenny Boynton with 13.6.
Junior forward Patric Young, who came off the bench and scored 15 points in last year’s meeting, is averaging 11.0 points and 6.5 rebounds this season.
The Gators will look to use ball screens to score points.
Young’s big night last season was from rolling to the basket after setting screens.
Kennedy called the Gators one of the best ball-screening teams in the country.
As a team, Florida leads the SEC and is eighth in the NCAA in field goal percentage at 49.5 percent.
The Gators also lead the SEC and ranks second in the NCAA in defensive field goal percentage, holding opponents to just 35.9 percent.
Sophomore guard LaDarius White will look to continue his hot streak for the Rebels, having scored a combined 39 points in the last two games.
“My role (is to) defend, rebound and attack,” White said.
“I have to fill in what (senior guard) Nick (Williams) did. That means I have to score more or rebound more. I just gotta adjust to whatever coach wants me to do.”
The game will be televised on ESPNU at 6 p.m.
It will be the first top-five opponent the Rebels have played this year.
Injury update on Jones, Williams
Head coach Andy Kennedy will be looking to mix and match his rotation, as sophomore forward Aaron Jones and senior guard Nick Williams will be out with injuries.
Jones, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, will have surgery next week and miss the rest of the season.
Regarding whether or not Jones will be ready by October for next season, Kennedy said he has no doubt he will be ready, adding that the typical rehab time is between five and seven months.
Williams suffered from a torn plantar fasciitis, which is a tendon in the foot.
Williams got a plasma injection in his foot on Wednesday and will be in a cast until Monday.
After the cast is removed, he will be evaluated for a return timetable.
Kennedy said that he might return as early as the Rebels’ game next Wednesday against Mississippi State, but they won’t know his status until Monday.
“There is nothing you can do further for this injury,” Kennedy said of Williams.
“He’s not going to re-injure it. It’s not going to make it worse, it’s not going to get better. It’s basically his pain tolerance.”
Junior forward Demarco Cox, who has not played since Dec. 23, will start athletic-related activities, but there will not be a determination on whether he can play for 10 to 14 days.
Cox is still a candidate for a medical redshirt.
Freshman Terry Brutus will be the first forward off the bench for Ole Miss, despite having only played 47 minutes this year.
Freshman Anthony Perez will play more minutes in the frontcourt, despite having played all season as a guard, and freshman Martavious Newby will also see an increased role in the backcourt.
Kennedy said he may play point guards sophomore Jarvis Summers and freshman Derrick Millinghaus together in some situations.
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