The Ole Miss men’s basketball team will need to have a short memory after two gut-wrenching losses last week to No. 7 Tennessee at home and Arkansas on the road. The Rebels shift their focus to a Tuesday date in The Pavilion with the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats, who are coming off of a blowout loss on the road to Tennessee over the weekend.
While the Wildcats are a game behind Tennessee and LSU for first place in the SEC, the Rebels look to emerge out of a five-way tie for fourth in the SEC to secure the coveted double bye in the SEC tournament.
Failing to get crucial stops on the defensive end in crunch time has, unfortunately, been a trend in the Rebels’ last two games. The last three games have all been decided by one possession, with Ole Miss coming up on the short end of the stick in the last two contests.
“We’ve been in two one-possession games the last two games, so we could easily be sitting here at 21-8,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “It’s life in the SEC.”
In order for the Rebels to right the ship, they will have a daunting task ahead of them in containing Kentucky’s 6-foot-8-inch sophomore PJ Washington. Washington enters the matchup scoring at a clip of 14.9 points and hauling in 7.7 rebounds per game.
Freshman guard Tyler Herro checks in at 13.9 points per game and is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Herro’s freshman counterpart, Keldon Johnson, is averaging 13.4 points from the Wildcats’ other guard spot. Reid Travis, 6-foot-8-inch graduate transfer, rounds out the quartet of Wildcats scoring in double-figures, averaging 11.3 points to go along with 6.9 rebounds per game.
Senior Night will take place in The Pavilion, and Ole Miss will honor its three seniors: Terence Davis, Bruce Stevens and D.C. Davis. Kermit Davis showed that he is not afraid to tinker with the lineup, even with just three games remaining in the season.
After a bad practice Friday, Terence Davis was held out of the starting lineup against Arkansas in favor of D.C. Davis for the first time all season.
“It was just (Terence Davis’s) practice yesterday,” Kermit Davis said. “That was the whole thing — how he practiced yesterday.”
Ole Miss checks in as a No. 10 seed in ESPN college basketball analyst Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of bracketology. However, the Rebels will have a massive opportunity to bolster their resume with Selection Sunday less than two weeks away. Kentucky ranks No. 5 in the all-important NET category, and a win of that caliber this late in the season could slingshot Ole Miss into a favorable position with the selection committee.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. in front of what is expected to be the second consecutive sellout crowd for Ole Miss. The game will be televised on ESPN.