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Game Preview: Ole Miss Rebels

Kentucky welcomes Ole Miss to town this evening for a 9:00 tip-off time on their home court. After a win at Vandy and another gut-wrenching home loss to Gonzaga, the 'Cats have fallen to number 22 in the most recent AP Poll, and the margin of error keeps getting thinner and thinner as the season goes on.

Ole Miss made a splash in the offseason after hiring former Texas coach Chris Beard to lead their program. Beard revamped the roster and Ole Miss started the year 13-0. Since then, they are 5-5 and 8th in the SEC with not very many quality wins on their resume. They sit on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament still looking for that signature win to prove they belong in the big dance. Right now they sit at 18-5 (5-5 in the SEC) with wins over Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and more from less notable names. The Rebels have played the hardest part of their SEC schedule already and if they can win the games they should win going forward, they should make the NCAA Tournament.

Ole Miss has been pretty average offensively and defensively this year. They average just 76.4 points per game which is 123rd in the country. They are led by senior Matthew Murrell who averages 16.8 points per game and is shooting 40% from three, as well as, Auburn transfer Allen Flanigan who averages 15.7 points per game. The Rebels are a physical team that likes to get into the lane. They won't shoot a ton of threes, but when they do they make a lot of them. Kentucky will need to attempt to improve their defense and their physicality if they want to keep up with the Rebels. Defensively, Ole Miss allows 71.4 points per game which is 6th in the SEC. The 'Cats should be able to put up points, but the game will come down to Kentucky playing any sort of defense which has been tough for them all year.

With how consistent the offense has been and how many points they are able to score, I am not worried about us offensively against this opponent. The truth is, if we don't find a way to get stops we are not going to be able to win consistently against above-average teams. So if Kentucky can put together some solid defensive possessions I think a bounce-back win is in line, avoiding extending the home losing streak to four straight.

With a huge road matchup on Saturday at No. 13 Auburn, Kentucky cannot overlook this Ole Miss team. They are old, physical, and well-coached. This will be another test for Kentucky that they need to step up in.

The game will be at 9:00 PM on ESPN.

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