The Ole Miss women’s basketball team will face off against No. 12 South Carolina on the road tonight in Columbia.
The Rebels have lost four games in a row, now, before entering tonight’s contest, including back-to-back home losses to Auburn and then-No. 20 Texas A&M. They are 8-15 on the season, including a disappointing 1-4 record on the road.
The Rebels have managed just two conference wins thus far, and they will be looking to play spoiler to other SEC teams jockeying for NCAA tournament positions. With remaining games against Tennessee and Arkansas teams fighting for tournaments spots, as well as a rivalry game against a Mississippi State team currently ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, the Rebs are in a position to do just that.
Ole Miss faces a difficult conference opponent known for its ability to adapt to every situation. South Carolina is 16-5 this season, including 8-1 in conference play and 9-2 at home.
The Gamecocks have won four back-to-back and 13 of their last 15 games, often mixing rotations and varying their bench depth to combat different opponents. This ability to seamlessly transition between gameplans and alter playing styles has worked extremely well, as they are considered one of the elite teams in the country this year.
South Carolina’s home court, Colonial Life Arena, is also known as one of the most difficult places to play in the women’s game and will test the Rebels’ young talent and experienced starters alike.
The timing of this matchup could be beneficial to the Rebs, however, as the Gamecocks travel to Hartford to take on No. 5 Connecticut on Monday. With such a momentous game forthcoming, it is possible that Ole Miss could sneak out of Columbia with a victory against a distracted South Carolina team.
This will not be possible if the Rebels continue to turn the ball over like they have in recent games. Averaging an astounding 17 turnovers per game, Ole Miss must protect the ball, establish a strong post presence to create open looks on the outside, move the ball efficiently and effectively and continue to play well on the defensive end to have any shot at upsetting a superior South Carolina team.
With just six games remaining in the season after today, the Rebs will attempt to play spoiler to SEC foes in tournament position, as well as develop their young players in an effort to build for the future. First-year head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin knows that this is a long process and has stressed the importance of securing playing time for her underclassmen.
“(We) put our young kids in because they’re getting incredible experience for the future,” McPhee-McCuin said after the Rebels’ previous loss. “Obviously, as we try and win games this year, we’re focused on that, too. When I’m not getting what I need to get from my veterans, I’m going to go with my freshmen, and I’m going to give them the experience that’s going to be vital as we build this program.