Ole Miss women’s basketball will face another tough opponent, the Kentucky Wildcats, in the team’s home season finale Thursday night.
Coming off of a loss against No. 19 Georgia on Monday night, the Rebels approach one of their last chances to prove themselves before heading into postseason play.
The game will be evenly matched; Ole Miss’ overall record of 11-16 closely resembles Kentucky’s subpar record of 13-15.
“We’ll have our hands full, because (Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell) will have his team ready to play,” head coach Matt Insell said earlier in the week. “I’ve got a lot of respect for that program, and I know their kids will come ready to play.”
Last season, Kentucky defeated Ole Miss in Lexington with a final score of 89-57, and in their last 10 meetings, the Wildcats have come out on top over the Rebels seven times.
Despite losing senior guard Shandricka Sessom to an ACL tear early in the season, the Rebels have been able to adjust in the areas that Sessom dominated. In the 27 games this season, Insell has started all but two of his 14 players, five of whom are underclassmen.
One such underclassman could make the difference for the Rebels this season and against Kentucky on Thursday night. Promise Taylor, who has been named SEC Freshman of the Week three times already, has led the team in rebounds in 10 games and twice has been the leading scorer. To add to her accolades, she has racked up four double-doubles on the year and nearly posted a triple-double against Texas A&M.
Thanks to Taylor, Ole Miss has been a dominant force in shot-blocking this season. In facing the Wildcast, the Rebels could break their single-season record for most blocks in a season, for they are sitting just five blocks short of the standing record of 129, set during the 1982-83 season.
Another player who has been in the spotlight this season is junior guard Madinah Muhammad. Dropping 18 points in the game against Georgia on Monday, Muhammad broke 1,000 career points and became the 29th member of the Rebel 1,000-point club.
Muhammad’s high-scoring games have made her an instrumental piece of this Rebel team, and Insell has been pleased with her performance and determination.
“Madinah is a hard worker. She obviously has had to carry a lot of the weight this year,” Insell said. “I’ve been very proud of her for continuing to push forward, even through injuries, this year.”
In addition to Muhammad performing as both a high scorer and leader for the team, junior guard Alissa Alston has also put some big numbers on the board. Tying with Muhammad for greatest number of games as the team’s top scorer (10), Alston has also had five 20-point games this season. This comes after not recording any during her first two seasons at Ole Miss.
Despite some outstanding performances by these players, Ole Miss remains 1-13 in conference games but will look to add conference wins against Kentucky at home and at Auburn in this weekend’s 2017-18 regular-season conclusion. The Rebels will tip off against the Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, hoping to gain some momentum before the SEC Tournament next week.