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Despite the most recent home loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field, as the Rebels put their school record four-game SEC road winning streak on the line when they travel to LSU on Saturday.

Ole Miss, 10-3 in games away from Tad Smith Coliseum and 8-6 against the RPI top 100, Oregon, looks to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume with a road win at LSU, ranked No. 55 in the latest NCAA RPI.

"We better play better," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We better play like we're playing for our NCAA Tournament lives because we are. We have to play with a hunger and a desire. I don't think it was an energy thing (against Georgia). Our energy was fine. You have to make some plays. When you get hit with contact, you have to go through it. When you have an open 3 off a ball reversal, you have to step up and make it. That's what NCAA Tournament teams do."

Georgia made those plays, while Ole Miss did not in the Rebels' loss earlier this week. The same was true in the Rebels' loss to LSU earlier this season. 

The Ole Miss big three -- Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White -- were a combined 14-for-45 from the floor, while the LSU duo of Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey each recorded double-doubles, and Keith Hornsby led all scorers with 21 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range.

Martin and Mickey average a combined 33.0 points and 19.1 rebounds per game, with both ranked among the top four players in the league in both categories. Mickey also leads the league in blocked shots (3.7/game), while Hornsby ranks fifth in the league in 3-pointers made (2.0/game), shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc.

"We'll battle," said Kennedy of Martin and Mickey. "We have to put bodies on bodies. They're big, fast and strong. They're a handful for everybody. We'll have a chance to try to game-plan and do the best we can to put our guys in position to be successful."

Coming into Saturday's matchup, Ole Miss, ranked No. 45 in the latest NCAA RPI, is a No. 8 seed in the latest brackets from ESPN's Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports' Jerry Palm and a No. 9 seed in the latest bracket from USA Today's Shelby Mast, while LSU is a No. 9 seed in Palm and Mast's brackets and a No. 10 seed in Lunardi's bracket.

Here's more on the Ole Miss-LSU matchup from CBS Sports' Chip Patterson in this week's Viewer's Guide:

The SEC schedule has not given tournament hopefuls like Ole Miss and LSU too many opportunities for quality wins. The winner gets a resume boost while the loser might sweat a little more on Selection Sunday.

Here's more on Ole Miss and LSU from ESPN's Eamonn Brenann in the latest Bubble Watch:

There's little reason to worry about the Rebels, even after this week's home loss to Georgia -- that's the kind of defeat you can manage when you've built this kind of good-if-not-great at-large case. That said, it doesn't get easier for Ole Miss in the next week. Saturday brings a trip to LSU and Tuesday involves a trip to Alabama. Ole Miss is in good shape right now, but two straight losses would introduce some measure of suspense in the last weeks before Selection Sunday.

The Tigers' past two weeks have been a success. Since narrowly falling to Kentucky in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Feb. 10, Johnny Jones' team is 3-1 with wins over Tennessee, Florida and Auburn. That may not get your blood pumping, but it's a more successful run than many fellow bubble teams have made in the same span, hence LSU's slight move off the cut line and into the bracket. With Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, the Tigers have NBA talent at two front-line positions, and they're playing top-20 efficiency defense nationally. They finish with Ole Miss and Tennessee at home before a trip to Arkansas next Saturday. They're trending in the right direction.

Rebels Ready for Rematch with Georgia

If recent history is any indication, Ole Miss and Georgia are likely to go down to the wire on Wednesday night.

Four of the last five meetings over the last three seasons have been decided by five points or less, with Georgia winning the last three meetings, including a 69-64 win on Jan. 20 in Athens. 

In their first meeting, junior guard Stefan Moody, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, led all scorers with 26 points on 7-for-16 shooting and a 10-for-10 mark at the free-throw line, but Georgia held the rest of the team to single-digit scoring.

Since their first meeting, the Rebels have won eight of nine, including a six-game winning streak, and head coach Andy Kennedy hopes to see a different, evolved version of his team in their second meeting.

"In preparation for the game, I watched it, and it wasn't easy to watch because we made a lot of miscues," Kennedy said. "I hope we have evolved since that game."

"I feel like we're a different team as far as the way we handle things and how we just go at it coming down the stretch," Moody said. "I guess we're a much better closing team, I would say."

Georgia, on the other hand, has gone 5-4, with a road win at Texas A&M, an NCAA Tournament bubble team, as well as a pair of losses to South Carolina and a home loss to Auburn, both of which are tied for 12th place in the Southeastern Conference standings.

All five Georgia probable starters average in double figures, a veteran group that includes two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. In league games, the Bulldogs rank second in the SEC in defensive rebounding percentage (.719) and third in rebounding margin (+4.1/game).

"Georgia is the same Georgia in that they really don't have any weaknesses," Kennedy said. "They're a solid team. (Georgia coach) Mark (Fox), unfortunately, has had to deal with some injuries. They've had a number of guys who have had concussions and guys have missed a game here and missed a game there. 

"They had one really bad week where they dropped a couple of home games and in this league, and we certainly have experienced it, if you don't play well you're going to get beat. But they're a very good team who has had our number. We have to make sure we play well Wednesday to give ourselves a chance."

For Ole Miss, Moody, the league's fifth-leading scorer (16.4 ppg), has averaged 20.3 points over his last seven games, including 25.5 ppg in leading the Rebels to wins at Mississippi State and against Tennessee this past week. He went 15-for-30 from the field, including 14-for-23 from 3-point range.

Senior guard Jarvis Summers also finished in double figures for the second time in seven games, scoring 13 points and dishing out eight assists in the win over Tennessee. The other member of the "Big Three," senior guard LaDarius White, has been held to single-digit scoring in each of the last three games since scoring a combined 36 points in road wins at Auburn and Florida.

"I think it's all confidence, honestly," Kennedy said. "He needs to see the ball go in a little bit. I thought it was very promising to see Jarvis back and playing with the pop that I like to see. He still missed some shots, but I thought he was more assertive offensively, and we need Snoop doing that as well. I think shots come, shots go, but I just want him playing in the offense. He looks a little tentative to me and the reason being he's not making shots."

And in weather-related news, here is the latest:

Despite winter weather that affected many teams, it was a busy week for Ole Miss athletics. The men's basketball completed a 2-0 week and has positioned itself well entering the last two weeks of the regular season. The baseball, women's basketball and softball teams also picked up big wins for the week, while a pair of former football players compete at the NFL Scouting Combine. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss men's basketball completed the Thursday-Saturday sweep, going on the road and defeating Mississippi State 71-65 on Thursday night and returning home and holding on for a 59-57 win over Tennessee on Saturday night. With the sweep, the Rebels have won eight of their last nine and sit in a tie with Texas A&M for third place in the SEC standings.

- Stefan Moody earned SEC Player of the Week honors earlier this season, and he's a near-look to earn the honor this week after averaging 25.5 points per game this past week, including a career-high 29 against Mississippi State. He was a volume and high-efficient scorer, wrapped in one, going 15-for-30 from the field, including 14-for-23 from 3-point range. His eight 3-pointers against Mississippi State were tied for the second-most in school history, two shy of tying Marshall Henderson's school record.

"I think he's locked in now," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I think he's embraced this leadership role. I think he likes the media talking about him. I think he likes the attention, and he knows if he makes more, he'll get more attention. So we're all for him making some more."

- Joining Moody in double figures against Tennessee was Jarvis Summers, who added 13 points, just his second game in double figures in his last seven games. However, he flashed moments of the all-league player he was last season, such as drawing a charge on the defensive end and then stepping confidently into a big 3-pointer on the offensive end.

"He definitely played with a little more pop," said Moody of Summers. "That's the word Coach (Kennedy) uses. Jarvis played very well."

"We gave him a round of applause that he's now off the milk carton," said Kennedy of Summers. "He's back." 

- A couple of impressive stats, noting the Rebels' success on the road: Their current four-game SEC road winning streak is the longest in school history. For the season, they are 10-3 away Tad Smith Coliseum, including a 7-3 record in true road games, a mark that includes road wins at Arkansas (No. 20 in the RPI) and Oregon (No. 56) and a neutral-site win over Cincinnati (No. 45).

- With a 2-0 week, Ole Miss is up to No. 32 in the latest NCAA RPI and up a line to a No. 8 seed in the latest bracketology from USA Today and CBS Sports. The Rebels have a chance to enhance their NCAA Tournament resume this week with a home game against Georgia (No. 38 in the RPI) on Wednesday night, followed by a road game at LSU (No. 54) on Saturday.

- For the second straight weekend, the No. 18 ranked Ole Miss baseball team took two of three, splitting a doubleheader on the last day of the weekend series after winning the series opener. Errol Robinson sealed the series win with a diving snag at shortstop, throwing to second to complete the line-out double play for the final out of a 3-2 win over Wright State.

- Despite taking a no-decision inn the Rebels' 3-1 loss in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, Brady Bramlett was the star of the weekend. After missing the end of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to injury, he leads the SEC in strikeouts with 19 through 12.0 innings, including a career-high 11 on Sunday. For more on Bramlett's brilliant start to the 2015 season, click here.

- Like Bramlett, Sam Smith took a no-decision, but head coach Mike Bianco was encouraged by what he saw from the senior right-hander, the most experienced starting pitcher in the SEC. Smith allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work.

"Sam felt good," Bianco said. "Really, I thought he pitched better. I know he didn't really get the results, but I thought the stuff was more what we talked about, pitching off the fastball more, pitching off the slider more. I thought he pitched better today. Obviously, the command was much better." 

- Ole Miss will be tested in the week ahead, playing five games in seven days, including their first road trip of the season, a three-game weekend series at UCF. Arkansas State, the Rebels' first midweek opponent on Tuesday, took two of three from No. 7 Louisville in a neutral-site series played in Emerson, Georgia, while UCF went 3-0 at the South Alabama Tournament, picking up wins over No. 15 Arkansas, No. 11 Maryland and host South Alabama.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball got a much-needed confidence boost, holding on for a 51-46 road win at Auburn, snapping a seven-game losing streak and clinching a .500 or better record for the season. It was the Rebels' second SEC road win of the season, the first time they have two won two league games on the road since 2009-10.

- Ole Miss, now 15-11 and 5-8 in SEC play, has three regular-season games remaining, all against likely NCAA Tournament teams. With the win over Auburn, the Rebels have clinched eligibility for an at-large berth in the Postseason NIT. As far as the NCAA Tournament, they have three opportunities to enhance their resume, starting Monday night with a home game against No. 10 Kentucky, a team they played to the wire on the road in Lexington earlier this season.

- The matchup with No. 10 Kentucky is the SEC Network Monday night game, as well as the seventh annual "Tickled Pink at the Tad Pad" event. Reb Talk will also be at the Tad Pad. it's a big night all the way around.

- The Ole Miss softball team was also affected by winter weather this week, as the Red and Blue Classic scheduled for this past weekend was cancelled due to inclement wether. Instead, Ole Miss played Memphis and Delaware at Petal High School, defeating both teams and improving to 8-4 on the season. 

- After playing their first 12 games on the road, first-year head coach Mike Smith and the Rebels play their home games on the season on Wednesday, hosting a doubleheader against Southern Miss beginning at 2 p.m.

- The No. 15 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team and No. 24 Ole Miss women's tennis team were both off this week, with the women's match against Lipscomb scheduled for Friday also postponed due to winter weather. Both teams open Southeastern Conference play this weekend.

- Former Ole Miss football players Senquez Golson (5-foot-9, 176 pounds) and Cody Prewitt (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) have been weighed and measured at the NFL Scouting Combine, and they are both scheduled to participate in on-field workouts on Monday. Stay tuned to NFL Network for coverage of the event, and we'll have more on blog Monday.

For the second time in as many weeks, Ole Miss embarks on a Thursday-Saturday swing, returning home to host Tennessee on Saturday after a 71-65 win on Thursday at Mississippi State.

During the previous week, Ole Miss was on the right side of a one-point game in a 62-61 win at Florida on Thursday and on the wrong side of a one-point game in a 71-70 loss to Arkansas on Saturday.

"It was a little bit different because we had played Arkansas before," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We haven't played Tennessee, and they play an unusual style with that matchup zone."

Junior guard Stefan Moody scored a career-high 29 points and knocked down a career-high eight 3-pointers in the win over Mississippi State. He has averaged 20.0 points over his last six games, upping his season average to a team-leading 16.2 points per game, which ranks fourth in the SEC.

Senior guard Terence Smith has also emerged as a key piece for the Rebels, picking up some of the slack at the point guard position. He finished with eight points and five assists in 17 minutes off the bench in the win over the Bulldogs. He was 2-for-4 from 3-point range and assisted on each of Moody's three 3-pointers in a 1:22 stretch late in the game.

"He was really good for us with his decision-making," Kennedy said. "He made a couple of huge shots in the first half, which kept us afloat when we struggling in other areas... Terence Smith has been very valuable for us."

With the win over Mississippi State, Ole Miss jumped up five spots to No. 33 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA and remains a team projected to be solidly in the field as a No. 9 seed in the latest bracket projections by CBS Sports, ESPN and USA Today.

Ole Miss is 7-5 against the RPI top 100, and Tennessee, ranked No. 82 entering Saturday's game, presents another opportunity for the Rebels to continue to enhance their resume and move one step closer to a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"I was excited at the end (of the game Thursday), simply because I didn't think we played well and I was proud of my guys for winning a hard road game when you don't play well," Kennedy said. "We've won four straight on the road, and it's probably the first time in those four I didn't feel like we played well. For us to win under those circumstances, it's something positive we can build on."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Feb. 10-16, 2015

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss saw its six-game winning streak snapped with a one-point loss to No. 23 Arkansas Saturday night. Junior guard Stefan Moody and senior forward M.J. Rhett each scored 16 points to lead the Rebels, but Ole Miss fell in the last seconds to the Razorbacks. 

- That was the second winning streak of six games or better against SEC foes under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just three such winning streaks in the 71 years before Kennedy's arrival. 

- Moody scored a game-high 18 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds on the clock to lift Ole Miss to a 62-61 win over Florida.  

- The Rebels overcame a five-point halftime deficit to knock off the Gators, thanks to Moody, who was 5-of-10 shooting from the floor - including a 4-for-7 mark from 3-point range - and senior G LaDarius White, who scored 16 points off the bench. 

- The win marked the Rebels first in Gainesville since 1999 and gave Ole Miss its first season sweep of the Gators since 1990.

- Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 78.9 percent of its attempts, which would rank second in  the NBA. The Rebels have hit 280 of their last 347 (.807) attempts from the line. 

- Moody leads the SEC and ranks seventh in the nation shooting 90.4 percent from the free throw line.

Baseball

- Ole Miss started the season winning two out of three against William & Mary, improving to 14-1 in season openers under head Coach Mike Bianco

- The Rebels have now won 11 season-opening weekend series during the Bianco era

- Ole Miss recorded 11 doubles during the series to tie for the most in the SEC

- The Rebels clinched the series with a 16-2 victory in game two of Saturday's doubleheader, the most runs scored by Ole Miss since facing Arkansas State last season, May 13, 2014

- J.B. Woodman smacked three doubles in the series finale, becoming the first Rebel to accomplish that feat since Alex Yarbrough did it against Arkansas, April 20, 2012

- Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in attendance in 2015 after bringing in an average of 8,489 fans during three games over the weekend for a total attendance of 25,469

Women's Basketball

- Senior forward Tia Faleru is 10 rebounds shy of her 800th career rebound. She will become one of seven players with 1,000 points and 800 rebounds and 150 steals. 

- Additionally, Faleru is approaching her 100th career assist and should she reach that, she will become one of a mere four players in program history with 1000 points, 800 rebounds, 150 steals and 100 assists.

- With her 18 points and 15 rebounds against Missouri, Faleru picked up her 30th career double-double. It moved her into the top five all-time at Ole Miss and gave her 10 double-doubles on the season. After going three straight games without a double-double, she has posted one in two of the last three games. 

-A'Queen Hayes had a career-high 16 points against Missouri for her eighth game in double figures this season and her first since scoring 12 against Mississippi State. 

- Fellow freshman Kiara Golden knocked down two triples against Missouri for her first points against an SEC foe and her third game with multiple three-pointers this season. 

Softball

- Ole Miss posted a 3-1 performance at the Battle at the Beach this past weekend, winning the tournament with victories over Iowa State, St. Bonaventure and Coastal Carolina.

- Junior OF Bri Payne tied the school record for RBI in a game with six RBI against Iowa State on February 14, tying the mark set by DeDe Justice in the 2003 season.

- Three Rebels were named to the All-Tournament team, including junior OF Bri Payne, sophomore OF Miranda Strother and freshman OF Elantra Cox.

- Strother hit .586 for the weekend, while Cox hit .571 and Payne turned in a .556 performance with eight RBI, sparked by a grand slam in the first inning against Iowa State.

- With the offensive outburst that led to the three-game win streak to close out the weekend, the Rebels now have four players hitting above .300 for the season - four over .400.

- Srother leads the Rebel offense, batting at a .533 clip for the year with five RBI and a team-leading seven runs scored, joining with Elantra Cox to hit above .500 on the year.

- Senior P Lauren Lindsey picked up her first win and save of the year, working 6.0 innings with no earned runs on Saturday in a win vs. Iowa State and save vs. Coastal Carolina.

- Sophomore P Emily Gaitan improved to 3-0 on the season with a win over St. Bonaventure with one earned run and a career-high 12 strikeouts against the Bonnies.

Women's Tennis

- The No. 24 Rebels won a pair of matches over the weekend, downing Tulane 6-1 and defeating William & Mary 5-2 to improve to 8-1 on the season.

 - The 8-1 start equals their best start since the 1997 season.

 - Senior Julia Jones rose to No. 7 in the nation this past week in the singles rankings and earned the highest ranking for a Rebel since two-time All-American Kristi Boxx was ranked No. 9 on April 10, 2012.

Men's Tennis

- The No. 19 Rebels participated in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships this past weekend. They lost a close 4-1 match to No. 2 Oklahoma, who made the final, and then rallied to defeat No. 10 UCLA 4-3 on Saturday. The Rebels concluded play with a 4-0 loss to No. 6 Duke.

- Stefan Lindmark was up in the third set and Vinod Gowda had split when Oklahoma clinched 10-8 in the third set tiebreaker at No. 4 singles.

- Senior Nik Scholtz picked up another ranked this weekend, beating Oklahoma's Andrew Harris, who is ranked No. 26.

Track & Field

-  The Rebels had their final tuneups for the SEC Indoor Championships at two of the best track meets of the season this past weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas (Tyson Invitational) and Seattle, Washington (Husky Classic).

- Ole Miss athletes achieved a total of 15 personal-best marks between the two meets.

-  Among the highlights for the men were Branden Greene's personal-best 7-1 in the high jump (ranks him fourth in school history), Craig Engels' personal-best 4:01.19 in the mile (ranks him fourth in school history) and MJ Erb's personal-best 14:11.34 in the 5,000 meters (ranks him fourth in school history).

- The women were led by personal bests from Shannon Ray in the 200 (23.92, ranks her fourth in school history) and Mary Alex England in the 5,000 (16:49.86, ranks her second in school history).

- Ole Miss men that rank top 40 in the NCAA are Jalen Miller in the 60 (3rd, 6.55), Robert Domanic in the mile (38th, 4:00.62), Robert Semien in the 60 hurdles (36th, 7.90), the distance medley relay (18th, 9:40.51), Branden Greene in the high jump (20th, 7-1), Adam Aguirre in the high jump (37th, 7-0.25) and Phillip Young in the long jump (23rd, 24-9) and triple jump (7th, 52-9.5).

- Ole Miss women that rank top 40 in the NCAA are Brooke Feldmeier in the 800 (9th, 2:05.27), Kierra White in the long jump (40th, 19-9.5) and Fabia McDonald in the pentathlon (17th, 4,057).

Rifle

- The Rebels dropped a pair of matches this past weekend, falling to Navy at home before traveling to Jacksonville State.

- Freshman Jessica Haig turned in a career-best performance in air rifle against Navy with a 591. She then fired a personal best 573 in smallbore on Sunday.

The men's basketball team marches on toward March, the baseball team opened the 2015 season with a series win over William & Mary and the softball team prepares for its home opener under first-year head coach Mike Smith. The winter sports are in full swing, while the spring sports have begun in earnest, so there are no shortage of thoughts and opinions on the week that was. Let's get into it:

- Valentine's Day was a busy day on the Ole Miss campus, with a baseball doubleheader, followed by a men's basketball nightcap, and Rebel Nation turned out in full force. Swayze Field was business as usual and will get better as the weather warms up, while the atmosphere at the Tad Pad was as electric as I can remember. It was fun spending the day with all y'all.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team saw its its six-game winning streak, as the Rebels were on the right side of a one-point game in a 62-61 win at Florida on Thursday and on the wrong side of a one-point game in a 71-70 loss to Arkansas on Saturday.

- Impressive Stat #1: It was the second winning streak of six games or better against SEC foes under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just three such winning streaks in the 71 years before Kennedy's arrival. 

- The Rebels have been a regular on SportsCenter top 10 plays this season, and Stefan Moody became the latest to make the highlight, landing the No. 4 spot on Thursday night with his game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.

- Where Ole Miss made the play in a one-point win over Florida, the Rebels did not make the play in a one-point loss to Arkansas. Ole Miss had the ball up 70-69 with less than a minute to play. The Rebels had an offensive possession to extend the lead, a defensive possession to secure the lead and a final offensive possession to regain the lead, but they could not make the play in any instance, while the Razorbacks made the play in each instance. It happens.

"We made the shot Thursday night (against Florida) in a highly-contested game," Kennedy said. "We missed the shot tonight, and Arkansas made the play. I told the team that I didn't think we lost the game; I thought Arkansas won it."

- The Rebels continue to get production from their ever-improving big men, highlighted by M.J. Rhett's 16-point, nine-rebound game against Arkansas, perhaps his best game in an Ole Miss uniform, as they won the rebounding battle, 45-31, a margin that included 21 offensive rebounds compared to nine for the Razorbacks.

- Since big games in wins over Florida and Mississippi State, Jarvis Summers has seen a dip in production, averaging 6.8 points and shooting 25 percent from the floor, including 2-for-12 from 3-point range, over the last five games. For the Rebels to reach their full potential and perhaps make a run in March, they need more of the Summers from last season.

"He has been hesitant," Kennedy said. "We've tried to do some things to get him to his strength, and we'll continue to do that." 

- Despite the one-point loss to Arkansas, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field as a No. 9 or No. 10 seed, depending on the projection, but a potential RPI landmine looms large this week. Ole Miss play Mississippi State, a team ranked No. 187 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA, on the road in Starkville, where the Rebels have not won since 2009.

- The No. 18 ranked Ole Miss baseball opened the 2015 season, taking two of three in a weekend series against William & Mary.  The Rebels showed a strong bounce-back, routing William & Mary 16-2 in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader after suffering an 8-1 loss in the first game of the doubleheader.

"The first game was disappointing, but it was encouraging to bounce back in game two," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We needed that effort from Bramlett to shut them down and let us swing. That's the knock against us. There are a lot of young guys playing, even though they played some last year. We have to take the punch and do something bad but not let it blow up."

- Impressive Stat #2: Ole Miss improves to 11-0-1 in weekend series to open the season under Bianco.

- J.B. Woodman, who moved to centerfield and the leadoff spot, is off to a fast start in his new role. He went 5-for-9 with three doubles, two runs scored and three RBI. Just as notable, he walked three times and did not strike out on the weekend.

"He's not your prototypical leadoff guy," Bianco said. "It's not that he can't lead-off and it's not that he doesn't have the skill-set to do that, but he also has a skill-set to hit a double and a home run. Some guys like Braxton Lee and Jordan Henry don't have that skill-set. You have to let (Woodman) swing, but he can also walk, steal bases and do a lot of different things."

- It will be interesting to watch how the weekend rotation evolves this season. Sam Smith took the loss in game two of the weekend series, while Brady Bramlett earned the win in the series-clincher and Sean Johnson, another candidate for a spot in the weekend rotation, worked out a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. There are three more weekends remaining, before the Rebels open SEC play on the road at No. 2 LSU.

"He couldn't get the ball into the strike zone," said Bianco of Smith's outing. "He had to stop throwing the two-seam fast ball and went to the four-seam fast ball. He basically had no other secondary pitch. It got away from him. Give credit to them. It was a just tough day, really uncharacteristic of him. Usually we're asking him to get the ball out of the strike zone and live on the edges. Today, he couldn't get close enough in there."

- ICYMI #1: Here's a link roundup of stories leading up to the start of baseball, including the 2015 walk out music and pre-SEC Ole Miss opponent capsules from Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com.

- ICYMI #2: Newsreel: Ole Miss Baseball 2015, shot with old-school film.

- Time is running out for the Ole Miss women's basketball team, as the Rebels fell short at home against No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday and on the road at Missouri on Sunday, a game they likely needed to move closer toward NCAA Tournament consideration. 

- Ole Miss, now 14-11 overall and 4-8 in SEC play, has four regular-season games remaining and then at least one game the SEC Tournament. With one more win, the Rebels can clinch an overall record of .500 or better and eligibility of an at-large berth in the Postseason WNIT. 

- As far as the NCAA Tournament, opportunities remain on the schedule, as Ole Miss plays three teams ranked in the top 65 of the RPI, including two in the top 30, and then there's the SEC Tournament.

- The Ole Miss softball team wrapped up its 10-game road swing to open the 2015 season, going 3-1 at the Battle at the Beach hosted by Coastal Carolina. First-year head coach Mike Smith and the Rebels return home to host the Red and Blue Classic at the Ole Miss Softball Complex, where they will play four games in three days, starting with Tennessee-Martin on Friday night (6 p.m. CT).

- The No. 19 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team went 1-2 on the weekend at the ITA National Team Indoor in Chicago, highlighted by a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 10 UCLA in consolation play on Saturday. It was the Rebels' second top-15 win of the season, and they rallied from the brink of defeat, despite losing the doubles point and Nik Scholtz, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, dropping his first singles match of the season.

- The No. 24 ranked Ole Miss women's tennis completed a sweep of Tulane and William & Mary over the weekend, improving to 8-1 on the season and equaling its best start since 1997, when the Rebels also started 8-1. Julia Jones, ranked No. 7 in the nation, dropped her first dual match, only her fourth loss overall this season. 

Riding a six-game winning streak, Ole Miss hosts No. 24 Arkansas in a battle for sole possession of second place in the SEC standings. The Rebels are looking for its fourth season sweep of Arkansas in the last five attempts, having won 96-82 on Jan. 17 in Fayetteville.

Junior guard Stefan Moody, a Kissimmee, Florida, native, knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer to give Ole Miss a 62-61 win at Florida on Thursday night, extending the winning steak to six games. The win also marked the Rebels' first in Gainesville since 1999 and gave them their first season sweep of the Gators since 1990.

Moody finished with a game-high 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting - including a 4-of-7 mark from 3-point range - while senior guard LaDarius White scored 16 points off the bench. Sophomore forwards Dwight Coleby (11 points, nine rebounds in 24 minutes) and Sebastian Saiz (six points, seven rebounds in 15 minutes) also provided key contributions in the frontcourt.

"We're playing well enough to win," said head coach Andy Kennedy on the SEC teleconference Monday. "I don't think we have not maxed out by any means. We're doing it a different way every game. My group is coming together. We're realizing the approach we have to take to be successful. Guys are giving great effort, and we're making enough plays to find a way to win."

Ole Miss, a team currently projected to be solidly in the field as a No. 8 or No. 9 seed, depending on the projection, looks to move one step closer to the NCAA Tournament with a win over Arkansas, ranked No. 23 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA, which would be the Rebels' second top-25 RPI and fourth top-50 RPI win this season.

For Ole Miss, Saturday marks the back-end of the first of two Thursday-Saturday swings, while Arkansas has two extra days of rest after a 101-87 win at Auburn on Tuesday night.

"The luxury is we have played them before," said Kennedy of Arkansas and the Thursday-Saturday swing in a media opportunity Tuesday. "It's not something we have to ready ourselves for us, other than they're a quality opponent on a quick turn. 

"You look at it two ways. The reality is we have more time on the front-end to prepare for Florida, and another day of rest during this time of year, which you can never undervalue. The flip side is you have to turn really quickly and get ready for another quality opponent. Everybody goes through the turn. Such is the life in this day and age of TV."

Ole Miss takes its five-game winning streak on the road at Florida, the team which the Rebels defeated to start the winning streak back on Jan. 24. The Gators have gone 2-2 since the first meeting this season, defeating Alabama and Arkansas, before dropping their last two games on the road at Vanderbilt and at home against No. 1 Kentucky.

More notably, Florida will be without Michael Frazier, who head coach Billy Donovan said "won't be in a position to play Thursday night" and could be out "a couple of weeks" with a high ankle sprain.

Frazier averages a team-high 13.2 points per game and shoots 40.1 percent from 3-point range, which ranks third in the Southeastern Conference. In the first meeting against Ole Miss, Frazier scored a game-high 27 points, knocking down six 3-pointers and going 7-of-7 from the free throw line.

"We had to play the whole second half without him on Saturday (against Kentucky)," said Donovan in his weekly press conference Monday. "I thought our guys competed well. Again, it's not one guy that is going to have to make up for a player like Michael. It will have to be several guys to contribute and help. Hopefully guys like Devin Robinson and (Chris) Chiozza will have more of an opportunity on the perimeter than they had previously because Michael is not playing."

Without Frazier, watching Florida on the tape, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said they adjusted by spreading the floor and using their quickness, playing two smaller guards for the majority of the game. The big thing, Kennedy said, is it's one less guy to locate, especially when they play zone defense.

On the other sideline, the Rebels' leading scorer, Stefan Moody, a Kissimmee, Florida, native, was held to a season-low six points on 2-of-10 shooting from the floor and 0-of-5 shooting from 3-point range in the first meeting against Florida. Entering this second meeting, Kennedy expects a better approach from Moody, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, coming off a week in which he averaged 17.0 points per game in wins over Texas A&M and Auburn.

"I think his mindset is in a good place right now," Kennedy said. "He's coming off SEC Player of the Week. He's battled through almost everything, whether it's first-half foul trouble and coming through us big in the second half, or making the big play. He's been in hostile environments. I know he will be excited because he's playing in his home state. I'm sure he will have a lot of family and friends there. He's in a better place mentally because he's been productive and his confidence is where we would like to see it."

Ole Miss hasn't won in the O'Connell Center since 1999 and hasn't swept Florida in a season series since 1990, a testament to the quality of teams under Donovan and the frenzied environment the fans create in Gator Alley. Handling the Gators' defensive pressure, which can be dialed up by that environment, Kennedy said will be a one of the keys in the matchup.

"They're going to be all over us," Kennedy said. "We can't have live-ball turnovers. The biggest stat that sticks out to me in this five-game winning streak is we have turned it over less than nine times a game. That's huge and that's another thing we're going to be very conscious of down there on Thursday night. We can't give them opportunities in the open floor by making foolish mistakes. That's how we allowed Auburn to stay in the game."

National Signing Day has come and gone, the Mike Smith Era began in earnest, and the men's basketball team has run its winning streak to five games, its longest win streak since the 2012-13, when the Rebels won the SEC Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff won some and lost some on National Signing Day, as they put together a 22-member class, ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation (247Sports.com), and as low as No. 21 in the nation (RIvals.com). The class included 18 players rated a four-star prospect or higher by at least one recruiting service, the most in program history, including offensive lineman Javon Patterson and wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, the seventh and eighth five-star prospect signed under Freeze

"You lose some battles when you are battling for some of the nation's best," Freeze said. "Every school does. We had a few of those, but we also won many, many battles for kids who really wanted to be at Ole Miss and this program representing this great university. I'm excited to get to work with them."

- Among the battles won were the last three players signed in Lodge, who announced his college decision live on ESPNU, choosing the Rebels over Texas and Texas A&M, defensive lineman Austrian Robinson, who chose them over Maryland, and wide receiver Van Jefferson, the son of 13-year NFL veteran Shawn Jefferson, who chose them over Georgia, Michigan and Oklahoma, as well as linebacker Shawn Curtis, who flipped his commitment from Pittsburgh.

- Speaking to some of the recruiting battles lost, Freeze said he and his staff will revisit the entire recruiting process, including allowing commitments to take other visits, gong through every kid on their board and talking about the outcome, the good and the bad, why it did not their way in the end, and could they have done anything different. On a related note, looking ahead to 2016, Freeze said of addressing needs on the offensive line, defensive line and linebacker with mid-year signees, whether it's JUCO or high school players.

- One of the more underrated aspects of the 2015 signing class are the five mid-year enrollees, a group that includes the top junior college quarterback (Chad Kelly), defensive lineman (D.J. Jones) and cornerback (Tony Bridges). All three players, as well as junior college linebacker Terry Caldwell and early enrollee Javon Patterson are expected to feature prominently in spring practice and push for playing time come the fall.

- In case you missed it, here's a National Signing Day link roundup of videos and stories related to the signing class as a whole and videos and stories related to individual signees.

- The men's basketball team extended its winning streak to five games, defeating Texas A&M 69-59 Wednesday night, its third top-50 RPI win of the season, and then going on the road and defeating Auburn 86-79, moving to 3-2 in SEC road games this season. With the wins, the Rebels remain in a three-way tie for second place in the SEC standings and moved up to No. 37 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA.

- The story against Texas A&M was a locked-in defensive effort, holding the Aggies' two leading scorers, Jalen Jones and Danuel House, to a combined 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting, and two key 3-point plays by LaDarius White and M.J. Rhett to push the lead to 59-50 with 6:26 left.

- LaDarius White led the way with 20 points, making big play after big play, but it was a team effort throughout the lineup, as five Rebels finished in double figures in the win over Auburn. The nation's top free-throw shooting team, the Rebels closed out the game from the line, going 10-of-12 in the final 1:28 to finish 28-of-38 for the game.

"Ole Miss is really comfortable with their nine players," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. "That's what makes them a really good and a contender is that they don't drop off at all when they go to their bench."

- Watching the Ole Miss-Auburn game on television, you could sense the energy in Auburn Arena, whether it was the memories of the Marshall Henderson jersey-pop, or the culture change under first-year head coach Bruce Pearl. The Pavilion at Ole Miss, set to open next season, will have a similar design and capacity, so fans watching the game got a taste of what the game day atmosphere might be like next season.

- Looking ahead, the Rebels have their first of two Thursday-Saturday swings, traveling to Florida on Thursday and playing host to Arkansas on Saturday. The Gators are ranked No. 67 in the latest RPI rankings and No. 35 in the latest KenPom.com ratings, while the Razorbacks are ranked No. 25 in the RPI and No. 31 in KenPom.

- The women's basketball team, looking for its first win at Vanderbilt since Jan. 8, 1987, led for 27:00, leading by as many as 16 early in the second half, but the Rebels were unable to overcome 42 second-half points from the Commodores in a 58-54 loss on Thursday night.

- Ole Miss, now 14-9 overall and 4-6 in SEC play, has six regular season remaining, starting with a home game against No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday. Head coach Matt Insell has said his team likely needs to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration, so the Rebels likely need at least a split of the final six regular season games.

- The Ole Miss softball team kicked off the Mike Smith Era with six games in four days at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, going 3-3 with wins over San Jose State, Fresno State and Western Michigan. The Rebels are on the road for five games in three days next weekend, before returning home for the Red and Blue Classic (Feb. 20-22), playing host to UT-Martin, Nebraska-Omaha, Southern Illinois and Middle Tennessee State.

- The Ole Miss baseball team opens the 2015 season next weekend with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting with the series opener Friday at 4 p.m. The Ole Miss baseball preseason press conference is set for Monday, so stay tuned for more coverage leading up to the season opener.

- The No. 24 ranked Ole Miss women's tennis picked up a pair of road wins, defeating No. 29 Texas Tech and No. 32 Rice. The Rebels return home for each of their next three matches, starting with Tulane on Friday (2 p.m.), before opening SEC play on Friday, Feb. 27 with a road match at Kentucky.

- The No. 19 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team was off this past weekend, returning to action Monday for its home opener against Troy, before traveling to Chicago for the ITA National Team Indoor (Feb. 13-16).

Rebels Host Aggies in Key SEC Matchup

National Signing Day will grab most of the headlines Wednesday, but there's also an important basketball game in Oxford, as Ole Miss hosts Texas A&M in a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the Southeastern Conference. 

The Rebels have won three straight games, their first three-game winning streak since November, while the Aggies have won six straight games after dropping each of its first two SEC contests, both without leading scorer and rebounder Jalen Jones.

"We're playing better," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "The two home games (Florida and Mississippi State), for us to win them in the fashion we did, battling back, and then to go to Missouri and lead the game from tip to buzzer, our team is continuing to evolve, which is what you want as you enter the month of February."

As the calendar turns to February, RPI rankings and bracket projections become more in focus and take on greater importance. Ole Miss ranks No. 47 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA and boasts two RPI top-50 wins over Arkansas (No. 24) and Cincinnati (No. 34), looking for a third top-50 win in Texas A&M, which is ranked No. 32 entering Wednesday's game.

Looking at the NCAA Tournament bracket projections, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and USA Today all have the Rebels among one of the last four teams into the field. The same three projections also have Texas A&M in the field, as CBSSports.com has the Aggies among one of the last four in, ESPN has them as one of the last four teams with a bye and USA Today with them solidly in the field.

"We don't really pay attention to it, but Coach does and he's always talking about that," said Ole Miss forward Anthony Perez of the RPI and NCAA Tournament talk. "When he talks to us, he always talks about the RPI and all that stuff. He lets us know where we are, what teams are ahead of us and what teams we have to beat."

Texas A&M is led by a pair of transfers in Jones (SMU) and Danuel House (Houston), the reigning SEC Player of the Week, who each average 14.2 points per game, while Alex Caruso, the SEC assists leader from last season, leads the the league in the same category this season, averaging 5.6 assists per game.

Defensively, the Aggies rank second in the SEC in field goal percentage defense (.377), while leading the league in 2-point field goal percentage defense (.401) and rebounding margin (+3.9/game).

Texas A&M, like Ole Miss, played No. 1 unbeaten Kentucky, the lone unbeaten team in the nation, to the wire, falling 70-64 in double overtime, despite the absence of Jones.

"You bring in Jalen Jones and Danuel House, two all-leaguer caliber players, and you couple them with the guys they returned, and Billy (Kennedy) has them playing at a really high level. They're good defensively and they can hurt you with a number of things offensively. They're going to pose a number of challenges for us."

Kennedy has been pleased with his team's progress but also said this team has a long way to go to reach its potential, as they enter the heart of SEC play and NCAA Tournament talk heats up.

"I'm proud of the things we have done," Kennedy said. "We have moved the program forward, and I think this team has chance to take another step. I like where we are right now, but I don't think we're close to being what we can be."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2015

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss posted a perfect 2-0 record last week with a 79-73 home win over Mississippi State and  67-47 rout of Missouri on the road Saturday.

- Trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, senior guard Jarvis Summers exploded for 22 second-half points to power the Rebels past the Bulldogs. Summers finished with 22 points, one shy of his season high, all in the second half, to go along with a game-high seven assists. He went 4-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range, but he went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line. 

- Ole Miss routed the Tigers on the road Saturday behind 23 points from junior guard Stefan Moody. Summers added seven assists in the win and junior guard Martavious Newby pulled down nine boards. 

- Ole Miss leads the nation hitting 80.1 percent of its free throw attempts, which would also lead the NBA. The Rebels have hit 212 of their last 254 from the line (.835). If the season ended today, Ole Miss would post the second-best FT percentage by a team in SEC history trailing only Vanderbilt in 1974 (.802). The Rebels' 82.9 percent from the line in conference play would break the Commodores' 1974 record (.814). 

- Junior G Stefan Moody, who leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation shooting 91.7 percent (88-of-96). Moody has made 31-straight FTs dating back to the Arkansas game, which is six free throws shy of the SEC record of 37 for consecutive free throws made in conference play held former Rebel David Rhodes. 

- Head coach Andy Kennedy tied former Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury with the fourth-most wins by an SEC coach in his first nine years in the league at one school with 185.

Track & Field

- Led by superb sprinting from sophomore Jalen Miller, Ole Miss claimed three event victories, accomplished two school records and broke a significant meet record at the world-class Armory Track Invitational this weekend.

- Miller showed off his consistency and prowess in the 60 meters with more electrifying times this weekend. On Friday, he broke former Tennessee star Justin Gatlin's 2002 meet record of 6.56 when Miller clocked 6.55 in the semifinals to tie Mike Granger's all-time school record. He ranks third in the NCAA and sixth in the world with that personal-best time. Miller won Saturday's final in 6.59, despite a slow start and a slip out of the blocks. It was his sixth race of 6.60 or better this season. Only five other runners in the NCAA have run 6.60 or better at all.

- Senior Phillip Young leapt an indoor personal-best 52-8 not once but twice en route to the triple jump victory. It moves him up to No. 6 in the NCAA this year and fourth in school history.

- Sophomore Adam Aguirre tied for the high jump title with a clearance of 6-11.5.

- MJ Erb clocked a personal-best 8:07.54 in the 3,000 meters to break former All-American Barnabas Kirui's school record of 8:08.17 set in 2010. Erb placed fourth in the race, while eighth-place finisher Daniel Bulmer ran an indoor PR of 8:11.22 that ranks him third in the school record books.

- For the women, freshman Shannon Ray made the finals of the 60 meters after her semifinal time of 7.47 on Friday moved her up to ninth in school history. Fellow freshman Brooke Feldmeier had another strong run in the 800 with a time of 2:07.13 to finish third. Junior newcomer Britt Ummels did not lower her school mile record from last week, but had another solid performance with a time of 4:50.63 to place fifth.

- A portion of the Ole Miss team also traveled to Jonesboro, Arkansas, for the A-State Invitational. Jhorden Hunter claimed the 55-meter dash in 6.92 and Saga Barzowski won the mile in 5:07.71. Hunter's time of 6.92 ranks her third all-time in the school record books.

Women's Basketball

- The Rebels are 14-8, 4-5 SEC after dropping their last four games. The four-game losing streak is the longest of the season for Ole Miss. Ole Miss is looking for its first winning record since 2009-10 when they went 17-15 and reached the WNIT.

- Tia Faleru is making some noise in the record books. With her 20 rebounds on the week, she is now just 42 rebounds shy of 800 career rebounds. When she reached the milestone she will become one of just seven players in program history to record 1,000 points and 800 rebounds and will be the first to reach the milestone since Armintie Price who played at Ole Miss from 2003-07. Additionally, Faleru has scored in a 98 consecutive games dating back to her freshman season. 

- Ole Miss, which played on Super Bowl Sunday for the 17th consecutive season and the 20th time overall, moved to 6-14 after dropping a 77-59 game to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday. Ole Miss last won a game on Super Bowl Sunday on 2009-10 in triple overtime fashion in Baton Rouge with a 102-101 win over LSU.

- The Rebels struggled on offense against LSU, scoring just 41 points against the Tigers. Ole Miss' 41 points was a season-low and the fewest points scored in the Matt Insell era. Ole Miss is 5-8 when failing to reach 70 points, a mark they haven't reached in the last five games. 

Women's Tennis

 - No. 24 Ole Miss suffered its first loss of the season, dropping a 6-1 decision at No. 16 Oklahoma State Saturday.

- A bright spot in the loss, senior Julia Jones knocked off the No. 10 ranked player in straight sets to improve to 15-3 overall, 5-0 at No. 1 singles.  Jones earned her ninth ranked win of the year and now has 88 career victories.

The men's basketball team found some consistency, while the women's basketball will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak, as the teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. It's also the week of National Signing Day and the beginning of the Mike Smith Era for Ole Miss softball, and opening day for Ole Miss baseball is now less than two weeks away. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Throughout the season, head coach Andy Kennedy and the men's basketball team have talked about establishing some consistency, and of late, stacking wins together. Ole Miss did just that this past week, rallying to defeat Mississippi State 79-73 on Wednesday night and cruising to a 67-47 win at Missouri on Saturday afternoon. With three straight wins, it's the Rebels' first multi-game winning streak since Dec. 18-22 and their first three-game wining streak since Nov. 23-29.

- Against Mississippi State, Jarvis Summers led the way with 22 points, one shy of his season high, all in second half, including a key four-point play to effectively close out the win for Ole Miss. After going 0-of-2 from the field in nine first-half minutes, having picked up two early fouls, he finished 4-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 12-of-15 from the free throw line.

"When you watch Ole Miss play down the stretch, it's always Jarvis Summers making plays," said Mississippi State head coach of Summers. "He has an unbelievable ability to not get sped up or get caught up in the moment. He stays the same way throughout and that gives him an ability to make plays and be calm no matter the situation."

- Against Missouri, it was all Stefan Moody, who was the only Ole Miss player in double figures with 23 points, including a highlight-reel put-back dunk that Kennedy said not only invigorated him, but their whole team, as the Rebels outscored the Tigers 50-32 the rest of the way. Missouri got as close as 48-39 with 9:38 left, before Ole Miss answered with a 15-0 run over the next 6:31 to push the lead to 63-39 on the way to the 67-47 final.

- In addition to LaDarius White, the Rebels' third-leading scorer, who has come off the bench in 15 of their 21 games, Ole Miss has gotten lifts from Dwight Coleby, Terence Smith and Anthony Perez. The most surprising lift, if you take away his contributions last season, has been from Perez, who after scoring just 14 points in 82 minutes through the team's first 18 games, has scored 21 points in 47 minutes over the last three games.

"In the Florida game, we were really searching," said Kennedy of Perez. "Our frontcourt wasn't being as productive, and I went to him because I've seen what he can do. He was a valuable part of last year's team. He stepped up and made some plays. He led us in rebounding in 12 minutes of action, which tells me he was active. I gave him an opportunity (against Mississippi State), and he took advantage of it." 

- Free throw shooting also continues to be a storyline for the men's basketball team. The nation's leader in free throw percentage (80.1 percent), which would also lead the NBA, Ole Miss has hit 212 of its last 254 from the line, including 78.4 percent (29-of-37) against Mississippi State and 86.7 percent (13-of-15) against Missouri. The Rebels are led by Moody, who leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation shooting 91.7 percent (88-of-96) from the line. He has made 31 straight free throws, six free throws shy of the SEC record for consecutive free throws made in conference play.

- As of the most recent Bracketology from ESPN's Joe Lunardi (Jan. 29) and CBS Sports' Jerry Palm (Jan. 30), Ole Miss is the next-to-last and last team in the NCAA Tournament, one of six SEC teams in the field, and another, Tennessee, is among the first four out in both projections. Ole Miss plays five of those teams, four at home, starting with a home game against Texas A&M on Wednesday night.

- The SEC, as the Associated Press' David Brandt noted, has a logjam with Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee all tied for third place in the SEC standings at 5-3, one game behind second-place Texas A&M at 6-2. John Gasaway, an ESPN Insider college basketball contributor, suggests Ole Miss could be the second-best team in the SEC behind No. 1 and lone unbeaten Kentucky. Here's Gasaway:

In Kentucky's first game of the SEC season, the Wildcats were taken to overtime in Lexington by Ole Miss. At the time, it seemed like a worrisome portent for John Calipari's top-ranked team, but here we are seven games later, and UK is the nation's only undefeated team.

For their part, the Rebels have also looked pretty good since that game at Rupp Arena. Andy Kennedy's team now boasts the league's second-best per-possession scoring margin, and in fact, Ole Miss has been especially impressive on offense.

As a 5-foot-10 junior who functions, in effect, as a 2-guard, Stefan Moody will trigger categorical confusion everywhere he goes. Then again, he's making more than half his 2s in conference play, and also shooting better than 90 percent at the line -- Kennedy probably doesn't lose any sleep over what label we give Moody.

Granted, "second-best team in the SEC" is no great tribute this season, but that may well be what's on the line this Wednesday when the Rebels host second-place Texas A&M. The close shave that Kentucky suffered at the hands of Ole Miss a few weeks back may not have been a fluke after all.

- Speaking of the SEC, it's not as bad as you think it is, writes Mike DeCourcy from the Sporting News.

- Former Ole Miss men's basketball star Marshall Henderson started a travel blog, and here's his first post, chronicling his travels and professional basketball career in Italy and Qatar and his acceptance of an offer to continue his professional basketball career in Iraq. Insightful read. Stay tuned to his Twitter account, @NativeFlash22, and his blog, The Road Most Traveled, for future updates.

- The women's basketball team has gone through a brutal five-game stretch, facing four ranked teams and another, LSU, was receiving votes, knocking off No. 18 Georgia, before dropping the next four to No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 18 Mississippi State, LSU and No. 1 South Carolina.

- As head coach Matt Insell said before, and said again Sunday, Ole Miss likely needs to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration. Through nine SEC games, the Rebels are 4-5, looking at three remaining home games, possibly all against ranked teams, in their last seven regular season games.

"We had a tough stretch, but we're not going to waver," Insell said." We're not going to panic. We're going to play to the final buzzer. We know what it's going to take to get on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. We know it takes eight wins in this league to get on the bubble. That means we have to win some road games and we have to pull an upset at home."

- Tia Faleru, the Rebels' leading scorer and rebounder, has picked up two or more first-half fouls in three of the last four games, all losses for Ole Miss, and it's a concern for Insell and the Rebels going forward this season. After scoring in double figures in 16 of the first 19 games, she has scored in double figures just once in the last four games.

"We're a different team, if she's on the floor, or she's not on the floor," Insell said. "I have challenged Tia Faleru. I told her she has to step her game up and she has to be a force for us."

- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley led the Gamecocks to a 10-18 record in her first season. It took her three season to lead them to a winning record and four seasons to lead them to an NCAA Tournament appearance, and now in year seven, she has the Gamecocks off to a 21-0 start and a No. 1 national ranking. Staley sees some similarities in what she has built at South Carolina and what Insell is building at Ole Miss, writes David Cloninger from The State.

- After being ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings, Tate Blackman, who's expected to be the opening day second baseman for the Rebels, was selected as the SEC Preseason Freshman of the Year by D1Baseball.com.

- In case you missed it, check out The Season: Ole Miss Baseball Day One.

- The Mike Smith Era for Ole Miss softball begins on Thursday, as the Rebels travel to Tempe, Arizona, for a four-day, six-game tournament. For Ole Miss powder blue fans, one of the new uniforms they will be wearing this season are these, which the team wore during one of the media timeouts of the men's basketball game against Mississippi State.

- As she did on the set of College GameDay nearly four months ago, pop superstar Katy Perry stole the show at the Super Bowl. A self-proclaimed Katy Perry fan, myself, I was pleased with the inclusion of the 2008 hit, "I Kissed a Girl," and then she ignited the Ole Miss fan base, dancing with Landsharks and other costumed creatures as she delivered "Teenage Dream" and "California Girls."

- Here's more on Katy Perry and her touching down in football fandom, writes Melissa Hoppert from New York Times.

- Lastly, a congratulations to former Ole Miss running back and current New England Patriot Brandon Bolden, who became the 16th Super Bowl champion in Ole Miss history. Here's my story on his wild ride, from undrafted free agent, to Super Bowl participant, and now Super Bowl champion.

Ole Miss meets Mississippi State on the hardwood the for 250th time Wednesday, which makes it the most-played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. 

Like the rivalry in football, where the road team last won in 2010, the home team has also held serve in the basketball series, with Ole Miss (12-7, 3-3 SEC) last winning in Starkville in 2009 and Mississippi State (9-10, 2-4 SEC) last winning in Oxford in 2011.

For some players, such as Aaron Jones, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White, all seniors and all Mississippi natives,  it's a rivalry renewed. For others, such as leading scorer Stefan Moody, a junior college transfer, and key contributors M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith, both graduate transfers, this is their first taste of the rivalry. 

"The rivalry will become pretty evident to them," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the newcomers. "They had the opportunity to see the impact of the Egg Bowl and how important that was for both schools. It's important for us, first and foremost, because it's the next game and it's a home game, and we need to make sure we match the intensity that I'm sure Mississippi State will bring to the game."

Ole Miss won two of the three meetings last year and has won three straight games in Tad Smith Coliseum against Mississippi State, but it's the Rebels' 76-72 loss in Starkville last year that serves as a reminder of the nature of the rivalry as well as a motivating factor going into Wednesday's game.

"Last year, when we lost to them, they started having a party in their locker room," junior guard Martavious Newby said. "It's like the Super Bowl to them. We're trying not to let that happen again. We're trying to beat them, so they won't do the same thing they did last year."

The game also holds importance because, as Kennedy said, it's the next game and it's a home game, and Ole Miss looks to establish some consistency and stack wins together.  The Rebels have a 5-4 record over their last nine games, alternating wins and losses since, having last won back-to-back games in late December.

After a 72-71 win over Florida, Ole Miss moved up to No. 46 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA. Looking ahead, the Rebels face three potential RPI landmines in their next four games, starting at home against Mississippi State (No. 210), followed by road games at Missouri (No. 162) and Auburn (No. 146). 

Sandwiched between the road games at Missouri and Auburn, Ole Miss has an RPI quality win opportunity at home against Texas A&M (No. 31). Both teams were among ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi's "first four out" in his latest bracket released Monday, with Texas A&M as the third team out and Ole Miss as the fourth team out.

"We're playing well, but we just have to be consistent," sophomore forward Dwight Coleby said. "One game we'll look like the best team, and then we'll come back and be sluggish. If we can ever be consistent, we should be good."

Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for the start of their seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Selection Sunday is more than a month away, but in a battle of teams on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Ole Miss men's basketball team downed Florida 72-71 on Saturday. Going into the matchup, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi tweeted, "The loser here is pretty much toast from an NCAA tournament perspective." 

- Through six SEC games, Ole Miss is 3-3, having played six of the top eight teams from the league, according to KenPom.com. The Rebels, themselves, are the third-highest rated team (No. 34). Looking ahead, return trips at home against Arkansas and Georgia and a road game LSU loom large for the team's NCAA Tournament chances.

"It's good for our confidence," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the win. "We're not as confident of a group as I would have hoped despite some of our early wins that show we are a good basketball team. You have to be able to stack wins at this time of the year. It was obviously a vital game for us."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers proved clutch for the Rebels, scoring each of the team's last four points, the first two on a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line and the last two on a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left after driving into the lane.

"Coach (Kennedy) always tells me to go right," Summers said. "That's my strength. I just listened to him this game and tried to make a play." 

- In a similar situation, tied 77-77 on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, Summers settled for a contested 3-pointer, which was off the mark, and the Wildcats went on to win 89-86 in overtime. That was not the case Saturday against Florida.

"I beat myself up after that game," Summers said. "I just had to move forward. I told myself if I ever got in that situation again, I was going to keep going to the hole and be aggressive." 

- Here's a good read on Stefan Moody from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger. Check it out.

- Playing its third straight opponent ranked opponent, Ole Miss came up just short, falling to Mississippi State 64-62 on a last-second shot on Thursday night. Ole Miss went 1-2 over the three-game stretch, knocking off Georgia and losing to Texas A&M and Mississippi State by a combined 11 points. The Rebels are 14-6 overall, 4-3 in SEC play, likely needing to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration.

- The result was not what head coach Matt Insell and the team wanted, but a lively crowd of 3,383 provided one of the better, if not the best, atmospheres I have experienced in five-plus years around the women's basketball program. Insell has tirelessly promoted his program, including going door-to-door on Fraternity Row the night before the Mississippi State game, and it showed Thursday.

"First, I want to thank Rebel Nation," Insell said. "What a great crowd that was. I think Oxford, Mississippi and Rebel Nation just really showed up for us tonight. They showed us how much they cared about this basketball game. The crowd was into the game the entire time. I just want to thank everyone that came."

- A lot has been written and said about The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Here's an infographic comparing it to Tad Smith Coliseum. Notice the concessions in the bottom right corner that includes the addition of Raising Cane's to the menu.

- The Ole Miss baseball team held its first spring practice on Friday and its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Here's a pretty thorough preview from Kendall Rogers on the Rebels, which are ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings. Don't forget, Ole Miss opens the 2015 season with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting Friday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m C.T.

- The lowest-ranked team in its four-team regional in Gainesville, Florida, the Ole Miss men's tennis team notched two big wins over No. 13 Florida and No. 29 South Carolina. The Rebels rallied from down 3-0 to defeat the Gators 4-3 and closed out the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Gamecocks to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16.

- The men's tennis team was bolstered by the return of senior Nik Scholtz, a three-time All-American and the reigning SEC Player of the Year. Unranked because he did not play in the fall, Scholtz defeated the 34th-ranked and 71st-ranked players this past weekend. For more on Scholtz and his decision to return to Ole Miss for his senior season, click here.

- Former Ole Miss players Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson showed out at the Senior Bowl this week. They impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Next up is the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 17-23). For more on their week at the Senior Bowl, click here and here.

- Another former Rebel, the New England Patriots' Brandon Bolden, will be playing in the Super Bowl next Sunday (5:30 p.m. CT, NBC). I caught up with Bolden earlier this week, so look for more on him in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

- In case you missed it, with the start of classes, the Ole Miss football has been updated to reflect six mid-year additions, including freshman offensive lineman Javon Patterson, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection from Pearl, Mississippi. Looking ahead, National Signing Day (Feb. 4) is a week and a half away, so stay tuned.

- In case you missed it, part two, the Ole Miss football video department released a couple of videos over the weekend: "Home is Ole Miss" and "The Journey: Chapter 3."

The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams both made some history, while the men's and women's tennis teams started their spring seasons. National Signing Day (Feb. 4) and the start of baseball season (Feb. 13) are less than a month away and loom in the minds of many Rebel fans. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Coming off a home loss to LSU, where head coach Andy Kennedy questioned the team's energy and their top three scorers shot a combined 14-for-45 from the field, the men's basketball team bounced back with their biggest win of the season, winning on the road at No. 19 Arkansas. It's a huge win for Ole Miss, not only for the NCAA Tournament resume when March rolls around, but also for the team's psyche and confidence during this early part of SEC play.

"You come into this building and win by 14, it shows the potential of this team," said Kennedy on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network after the game.

- As it did for most of the game at No. 1 Kentucky, Ole Miss played like a team comfortable playing on the road, as the Rebels shot a season-high 56.4 percent from the field and committed just 11 turnovers against an Arkansas team that entered the game forcing 16.6 turnovers per game.

- The Big 3 of Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White all scored in double figures, which the Rebels need to be successful this season, but also credit the frontcourt players, who are playing with more and more confidence on the floor. Some numbers through four games of SEC play: Sebastian Saiz (8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds), Dwight Coleby (7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and M.J. Rhett (7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds). Led by that frontcourt trio, Ole Miss boasts a plus-2.8 rebounding margin in SEC play.

- A week after Aaron Jones earned top-play honors on Fox Sports Live, Martavious Newby and Stefan Moody combined for an alley-oop in the win over Arkansas that earned the No. 7 spot on Saturday's Top 10 plays.

- Some perspective: For Ole Miss, it was the program's first true road win over a ranked team under ninth-year head coach Andy Kennedy, the first since the 2002-03 season. Ole Miss has now won 10 of its last 12 against Arkansas, including five of its last six games in Fayetteville.

- The NCAA RPI will be released Monday, but Ole Miss moved up No. 46 in the RPI (per Warren Nolan), with two more big RPI opportunities this week: on the road at Georgia (No. 27) and at home against Florida (No. 70).

- The women's basketball team made some history of their own, knocking off No. 18 Georgia on Thursday night, the program's first win over an AP-ranked team since the 2010-11 season, snapping a 24-game losing streak to AP-ranked opponents.

"I'm really happy with our basketball team," head coach Matt Insell said. 'What a great win for our program and where we're going in the future with our program."

- An individual note: Senior Tia Faleru is the only player in the SEC averaging a double-double, as she leads the league in rebounding (10.6) and ranks second in scoring (15.9). Her three-point play started the 8-0 Ole Miss run to end the game against Georgia.

"When she told she was ready to go, she said to go to her every possession, and that's what you want your best player to do," said Insell of Faleru, whose 3-point play started the 8-0 run to end the game. "You want your best player to want the basketball. She wanted it, and she got a big and-one play for us that kept us going. I'm really proud of her."

- Playing its second straight ranked opponent, Ole Miss led No. 11 Texas A&M for 23:01 and as late as the 12:02 mark in the second half. An 11-0 Texas A&M run proved to be the difference, as the Aggies took a 42-41 lead with 11:01 left and led the rest of the way in a 58-49 win in College Station.

- The Rebels got some good news with the return of freshman Shandricka Sessom, who had missed the previous two games with concussion-like symptoms. With her return to the starting lineup, Gracie Frizzell came off the bench, having averaged 17.5 points per game and made a combined 11 3-pointers over her two starts against Alabama and Georgia. Frizzell came off the bench against Texas A&M, but it will be interesting to see if she returns to the starting lineup at some point this season.

- Ole Miss will play its third straight ranked opponent, hosting in-state rival No. 15 Mississippi State on Thursday night in a nationally-televised matchup on the SEC Network. The Bulldogs started the season 18-0, rising as high as No. 14 in the polls, before losing back-to-back games, and enter Thursday's matchup with a 19-2 record. The teams met twice last season, with both games going to overtime and the home team holding serve in each contest.

- Two blasts from the past: Here's an interview with SMU head coach Chad Morris, who talks to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman about Jevan Snead, whom Morris coached in high school in Texas. Here's a New York Times article on Jeremiah Masoli, who watched Oregon, his other former school, play in the national championship this past Monday.

- Speaking of the national championship, Ole Miss finished the 2014 season at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coaches Poll, its first final national ranking since 2009 and its highest final national ranking since 2008, when they finished No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the Coaches poll. Looking ahead to next season, here's a compilation of way-too-early preseason top 25 rankings for 2015.

- Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. According to CBS Sports, Prewitt is the No. 52 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 1 free safety, and a projected second round pick, while Golson is the No. 62 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 7 cornerback, and also a projected second round pick.

- The Ole Miss men's tennis team delivered Toby Hansson a 6-1 win over UCF in his first match as a head coach. Nik Scholtz, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, is expected to rejoin the team when classes start this week, ahead of the team's matches at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Gainesville, Florida, next weekend.

- New England running back Brandon Bolden will be the 23rd former Ole Miss player, accounting for the 28th appearance overall, to play in a Super Bowl and the first since Michael Oher and Patrick Willis represented Ole Miss in Super Bowl XLVII. Bolden also laid this massive block in the Patriots' win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.

After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of Southeastern Conference play.

In their league opener, the Rebels went on the road and pushed No. 1 Kentucky to overtime, and then four days later, cruised to a wire-to-wire 65-49 win over South Carolina. One of the keys, head coach Andy Kennedy said, has been finding the right combinations on the floor.

"With us, every player has a strength and a weakness," Kennedy said. "I'm trying to have combinations to cover ourselves. We're getting better at that."

For the Rebels, the right combinations start with their two leading scorers in junior guard Stefan Moody (14.8 ppg), the high-volume scorer, and the senior guard Jarvis Summers (14.4 ppg), the game-manager, who are learning how to play together in the backcourt.

"The biggest thing is Moody has more assertive, as opposed to watching Jarvis," Kennedy said. "He's becoming more assertive and, now he's helping Jarvis. A lot of times early in the season, we were ball-watching a lot. Everybody was watching Jarvis dribble around, and nobody knew how aggressive they needed to be. We're starting to figure that out."

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, who saw the duo up close and personal this past Saturday, likened Moody to an NFL defensive back because of his freakish athletic ability and described Summers as "probably the least-heralded player in the SEC that's really good." Through two SEC games, Moody and Summers are averaging a combined 21.0 ppg and shooting a combined 49.0 percent from the floor.

"I thought the way they play, I have always felt that (Jarvis) Summers was the heartbeat of their team," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. "As solid as he is, is the sense of urgency and toughness that he plays with, even when they had Marshall Henderson on the team.

"The different look right now is the newcomer (Stefan Moody) that they have that did take a lot of those (Henderson-type) shots and played so well against Kentucky the other night gives them the feel of Henderson. He's a very capable scorer that can make shots."

After 1-1 start in league play, the Rebels enter a key stretch, where they play three straight games against RPI top 45 opponents, starting with LSU (No. 45) on Wednesday night.

"These are two teams that everybody has in the tournament," said sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz of LSU and Arkansas (No. 13 in the latest RPI). "At the end of the day, they're going to be in the tournament. So to get both of them is going to be really good for us."

LSU is led by sophomore forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, who are averaging a combined 32.7 ppg and pulling down a combined 19.2 rebounds per game. Martin ranks third in scoring (16.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.6 rpg), while Mickey ranks sixth in scoring (15.9 ppg), second in scoring (10.6 rig) and leads the league in blocked shots (3.6/game).

"The conservation with LSU starts with Martin and Mickey, two great players, and they have really taken a big leap forward as you expect from year one to year two," Kennedy said. "They're two guys who caused you a lot of matchup problems because of their size and versatility."

Last season, Kennedy said, their biggest deficiencies were rebounding margin, defensive rebounding percentage, and an inability to finish close to the basket, all areas where Ole Miss has improved from last year to this point in the season. 

Against No. 1 Kentucky, the nation's longest team and the league's leader in rebounding margin, scoring defense, field goal percentage and blocked shots, Ole Miss was outrebounded just 34-32 and outscored the Wildcats 30-26 in the paint.

Led by Martin and Mickey, LSU provides another tough test for Ole Miss in each of those respective areas, as the Tigers rank fifth in the league in rebounding margin (+5.2/game) and second in blocked shots (6.3/game).

"Kentucky is the biggest team in college basketball and they would be the second-biggest team in the NBA, so if we can do that against Kentucky, we can do that against anybody else," said Saiz, who scored a career-high 20 points in last year's meeting with LSU."

The Ole Miss men's basketball team opened SEC play, while the Ole Miss women's basketball team continued SEC play, as we enter the heart of college basketball season. Over the weekend, the men's and women's teams posted wire-to-wire wins on back-to-back days. After the conclusion of NFL Divisional Round, the Rebels are guaranteed to have a representative in Super Bowl XLIX. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team welcomed five newcomers, including two fifth-year transfers and two junior college transfer, and it's been a process for the team learning to play together. After an up-and-down nonconference slate, the Rebels played No. 1 Kentucky to overtime on the road and then notched a wire-to-wire 65-49 win over South Carolina to open SEC play.

"With us, every player has a strength and a weakness and what I'm trying to do is have combinations to cover ourselves, and I think we're getting better at that," head coach Kennedy said. 

"It's a process," junior guard Stefan Moody said. "You can't just throw a bunch of guys together and expect them to mesh automatically. It's a process. It's going to take a little while and we're figuring it out."

- Ole Miss did not get the result it wanted on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, but the Rebels played perhaps their best game of the season, and if they play like that the rest of the way, they have a chance to play meaningful basketball come March. Ole Miss shot 49 percent from the field, including 9-of-17 from 3-point range, and scored 86 points, all season highs for Kentucky opponents.

"It doesn't really get any worse than that, especially when you have a chance to beat the No. 1 team in the country," said junior guard Stefan Moody, who led the Rebels with 25 points before cramping up in overtime. "It's a part of life. You have to take it how you got it. We lost by a few points. It was a confidence booster coming into this game (against South Carolina) and in games ahead. We went toe to toe with (Kentucky). It proved we can go toe to toe with anybody."

- In case you missed it, here's a vine of a highlight-reel dunk by Aaron Jones against No. 1 Kentucky, which earned him top-play honors on Fox Sports Live. (H/T @ColeMissSports)

- After winning 12 of its first 13 games, all in the nonconference slate, by double digits, No. 1 Kentucky has been taken to overtime in back-to-back games, first at home against Ole Miss and then on the road against Texas A&M. Speaking to the way No. 1 Kentucky played in each of the two games, Ole Miss took a better shot, and it came on the Wildcats' home floor. Against Ole Miss, Kentucky shot 42 percent from the field, including 11-of-20 from 3-point range, and went 28-of-40 from the free-throw line. Against Texas A&M, Kentucky shot 28 percent from the field, including 9-of-28 from 3-point range, and went 25-of-35 from the free-throw line.

"I told them, the standard has been changed," Kennedy said. "Through 13 games, we've seen some high points and low points. And then we went into Rupp Arena, in that environment. The only thing that bothered me about the commentary afterwards was a lot of people saying that Kentucky didn't play well. Kentucky played well. We took their best shot. My hope was that our guys saw that this is the new standard, and this is what we are capable of doing, if we take the right approach. If we take the right approach, this team has a chance."

- Watching Ole Miss on film, South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said it was easy to spot their progress through 15 games this season, pointing to the Rebels' nonconference wins over Oregon and Cincinnati, as well as the way they played Kentucky.

"They're athletic," Martin said. "They're seniors. They stay the course. They don't whine and pout. They don't roll their eyes. They play. Moody has given them an unbelievable presence to go with those other guys. Andy's got his guys playing well."

- After a 1-1 start to SEC play, the Ole Miss men has a crucial four-game stretch ahead, all against teams ranked in the RPI top 80: vs. LSU (No. 43), at Arkansas (No 14), at Georgia (No. 38) and vs. Florida (No. 79).

- With wins over Florida and Alabama this week, the Ole Miss women's basketball won back-to-back regular-season SEC games for the first time since the 2011-12, improving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC play. The 13-4 start is the best since the 2006-07 season, when the Rebels finished 24-11 and made a run to the Elite Eight. 

- "We said before the SEC started, when we were 10-3, that five more wins gets us to the WNIT," head coach Matt Insell said. "We said eight more wins gets us to the NCAA Tournament. I asked them what they wanted, and they said they wanted the NCAA Tournament, so they're fighting every day to get to that eight-win mark because when you get to that eight-win mark in this league in women's basketball, I can't name a team that didn't make the NCAA Tournament after getting eight wins in this league."

- One of the"next four teams" out in the first Bracketology projection from ESPN.com women's basketball Bracketologist Charlie Creme, the Ole Miss women also have a crucial stretch ahead, starting with a home game against No. 19 Georgia on Thursday, followed by a road game at No. 8 Texas A&M, followed by a rivalry game at home against No. 14 Mississippi State.

"Georgia is coming in here, and they're ranked in the top 20 in the country, and you get a chance to get them on your home court, and you get a chance when you have a lot of momentum going within your team and your team is playing well," Insell said. "It's a huge game. If we want to get to the NCAA Tournament, we have to win a couple of those games. This week, we have a chance to play two teams this week to see where we're at and see where we're going."

- The Ole Miss men's tennis team netted a big win off the court with Nik Scholtz's Twitter announcement that he would return for his senior season. The Rebels began the 2015 season this past weekend with singles and doubles matches at the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational. They play their first dual match of the season on Friday at UCF, before starting play at the ITA Kickoff Weekend on Saturday, Jan. 24.

- Five former Ole Miss football players have been invited to play in college football postseason all-star games, headlined by Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, who will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 24. Serderius Bryant played in the Medal of Honor Bowl this past weekend, totaling three tackles and two tackles for loss.

- With Brandon Bolden (New England Patriots) and Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts) both advancing to the AFC Championship, Ole Miss is guaranteed to have a former player in Super Bowl XLIX. It will be the 20th Super Bowl featuring a former Ole Miss player, and whether it's Bolden or Moncrief, Ole Miss have its 23rd different former player participate in a Super Bowl.

Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing No. 1 Kentucky in 2012. Kentucky is 102-13 all-time against Ole Miss, including 48-2 in games played in Lexington. The Rebels have one win all-time at Rupp Arena, coming in 1998.

"Excited to get the SEC schedule under way, and we obviously do it in grand fashion in Rupp Arena tomorrow night," said head coach Andy Kennedy on the SEC teleconference Monday. "So I know our guys will be excited about the opportunity, playing in the most storied venue in all of college basketball, against arguably the best team in college basketball. So I know our guys will be looking forward to the opportunity."

The Wildcats are a perfect 13-0, as they pursue the first undefeated season in college basketball since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, a team that included Tom Abernathy, the father of Todd Abernethy, the coordinator of recruiting development and acting assistant coach.

By defeating Louisville by eight points, 58-50, Kentucky's school-record run of consecutive double-digits to begin the season ended at 12, a run that included double-digit wins over No. 5 Kansas, No. 25 Providence, No. 6 Texas and No. 18 North Carolina.

"Cal doesn't get the credit he deserves for the job he does," said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin on the SEC teleconference Monday. "I watched them the other day. They're magnificent. They're defending as well as any team in the country, and as well as any team I've seen in a long time."

Their defense, Kennedy said, is what gives gives them an opportunity an opportunity to undefeated this season. Kentucky leads the nation in scoring defense (47.8 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.297) and blocked shots (8.2/game). The Wildcats also lead the SEC and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.267).

"They're a special defensive team," Kennedy said. I've certainly watched them casually when I could throughout the course of the season, and then as we gear up for them in preparation. That is what gives them an opportunity to do what I know is a topic of conversation not only in Kentucky but throughout the country: Can this team go through the regular season undefeated? 

"It'll be a monumental challenge, obviously, but defensively is the reason that I think it's a valid question, simply because they don't give you anything easy, and as a result teams have really struggled to score against them."

Because of their defense, along with their size and length, Kennedy has stressed the importance of making jump shots, and defensively, keeping them off the offensive glass. Kentucky leads the SEC and ranks ninth nationally in rebounding margin (+10.4/game), leading the league in both offensive rebounds (15.2/game) and offensive rebounding percentage (.460).

"We're going to have to make jump shots, which is not easy to do in any venue, much less Rupp," said Kennedy after the win over Austin Peay on Saturday. "Because of their length and ability to alter everything in the paint, you have to make jump shots. Defensively, you have to do an incredible job off the defensive glass. We've improved on our rebounding margin and guys are pursing the ball more consistently. If you allow them to live off the offensive glass, you have no chance."

Kentucky head coach John Calipari, looking at Ole Miss, stressed the importance of defending jump shots, particularly perimeter shots, noting that the Rebels' three leading scorers, all perimeter players -- junior Stefan Moody (13.9 ppg), senior Jarvis Summers (13.3 ppg) and LaDarius White (12.5 ppg) -- account for 52.6 percent of the team's scoring and 53.2 percent of the team's field goal attempts.

"Mississippi is going to shoot 25 threes in this game or maybe more," said Calipari in his media opportunity Monday. "If they make 20, then we lost our first game. They're shooting 25. Their three guards are their leading scorers and take more than 50 percent of their shots. 

"They offensive rebound 13 or 14 per game. They're going to play a zone where they're changing defenses. It could confuse us. If they're making shots, then we have to try to drive them off the 3-point line. When you're playing teams that are willing to shoot that many, you just don't know."

SEC Appears Stronger Entering Start of League Play

Looking at the SEC as a whole, all metrics point to a stronger league from top to bottom and perhaps more NCAA Tournament bids for a league that received just three bids last season. And it starts with Kentucky's dominance at the top.

"Kentucky has sort of separated themselves in the nonconference from the rest of the world, not only in our league, but from everybody else's league as well," said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings on the SEC teleconference Monday. "Our league is deep and I think the conference season will be an absolute grind because there are so many teams that are probably competitive and equal enough that a lot of teams can win on any given night."

The SEC is one of four conferences with five teams in the RPI top 50 and one of three leagues with 10 teams in the RPI top 100. The SEC also has five teams in the top 50 and 11 teams in the top 100, according to KenPom.com. Ole Miss is rated No. 93 and No. 67 in the two metrics, respectively.

ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his first full bracket of the season, and it included five SEC teams, and in his conference-by-conference forecast, he forecasts four teams from the SEC to receive an NCAA Tournament bid.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House is back, having taken a week off for the Christmas holidays and traveled to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The football team finished the season in a "New Year's Six" bowl, the men's basketball team closed out non-conference play, the women's basketball team opened Southeastern Conference play and the spring sports draw nearer. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss football team ran into a buzz saw in No. 6 TCU, a team playing like it was motivated by the College Football Playoff snub and should have been in the four-team playoff. The 42-3 loss to the Horned Frogs marked the first bowl loss under head coach Hugh Freeze and the worst bowl loss in program history.

"TCU is a very good team," Freeze said. "They deserved every mention they got this year to be in the hunt for one of the four.  They certainly, rightfully, deserve to be in it with the others.... To pick the four is a very difficult task.  They certainly could compete with any of those in it, no question in my mind."

- It's easy for fans to be disappointed by the end of the season, but credit is due to Freeze and the 2014 team, particularly the seniors, many of whom were freshman during a 2-10 season in 2011. They helped lead the program to three straight bowl games for the first time since 1998-2000 and their nine wins are its most in a season since 2009. History will be kind to this team, as the underclassmen on this year's team look to take the program to the next level in the years to come.

"I'm extremely proud of our kids and how they've turned this program, in three short years, to being relevant and competitive. I'm just sick that it wasn't that way for them today," Freeze said.

- Playing in his last collegiate game, senior cornerback Senquez Golson provided a bright spot in the game, as he tied the school record with his 10th interception of the season, the 16th of his career, which is tied for third place in Ole Miss. A projected second-day NFL draft pick, Golson remains undecided on his plans for the spring, whether it's playing baseball or preparing for the NFL Draft.

- He did not want to go out the way he did, saying as much to the media in the postgame press conference, but just as history will be kind to this year's team, it will likely be kind to senior quarterback Bo Wallace. He had his ups and downs, and he would probably be the first to admit that, but he finishes his Ole Miss career with school record for career total offensive yards (10,478), and with 24 wins as the team's stating quarterback, he is tied with Eli Manning as the winningest quarterback in modern Ole Miss history. Among those 24 wins: Three top-10 wins, including No. 1 Alabama, two Egg Bowl wins and two bowl wins.

- Much was made about the SEC's bowl performance and the SEC East's 5-0 record and the SEC West's 2-5 record, headlined by the 0-3 record by SEC West team in the "New Year's Six" bowl games. With that being said, a couple of things to consider: The SEC tied its own record the most conference bowl wins in college football history. When comparing the records of the two divisions, be sure to look at their bowl game opponents, which includes the nation's No. 4, No. 6, No. 12 and No. 18 teams for SEC West teams. Also, should one bowl game carry more weight than the 12-game or 13-game regular season when comparing divisions and conferences?

- Speaking of the "New Year's Six," the new format pulled in historic ratings. The first half of the "New Year's Six" delivered the most-viewed and highest-rated New Year's Eve triple header on an ESPN network on record, including an average of 5,013,000 views and a 3.4 US rating for No. 6 TCU and No. 9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. The semifinals on New Year's Day then delivered the largest two audiences in cable television history and the highest overnight rating for a non-championship game on ESPN and ABC, with a 15.5 rating for No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl and a 15.3 rating for No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. I look forward to seeing the numbers for the College Football Championship on Monday, Jan. 12.

- Looking ahead to next season, Ole Miss will have perhaps its two best offensive players in sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and sophomore offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil coming off season-ending injuries, as Tunsil suffered a broken fibula in the loss to TCU. David Chao, MD, a former NFL head team physician, said on Twitter that type of injury requires surgery, but Tunsil could make a recovery in four-to-six months. Freeze said Treadwell, now out of the boot, will recovered by about the start of spring practice, expecting him to participate in some of spring practice.

- But the biggest question heading into the offseason and the 2015 season? The quarterback position. The Rebels signed the nation's top junior college quarterback in Chad Kelly, and we'll know more about his future with the program in the coming days. And then there's redshirt freshmen Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, neither of whom has separated from the other through two seasons working behind Bo Wallace. It will be something to watch.

- Other questions heading into the offseason and 2015 season? Who does Freeze hire to replace linebackers coach Tom Allen on his coaching staff? After signing four on junior college national signing day, including the nation's top quarterback, defensive tackle and cornerback, how does Ole Miss finish up its recruiting class on National Signing Day (Feb. 4)? How do Treadwell, Tunsil, among others recover from season-ending injuries? That and more, we'll all have to sit back and watch.

- Speaking of looking ahead to 2015, here's Chase Parham's annual look at 10 dates that are significant for Ole Miss during the next calendar year. A must-read for all Rebel fans, if you haven't already checked it out.

- While in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, I had the opportunity to visit and tour the College Football Hall of Fame. Wow. If you're a college football fan and haven't yet visited the museum in downtown Atlanta, you need to make plans to do so. 

When you walk in, you see a three-story-high wall of helmets representing the 768 teams that play college football at the FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA level. When you walk upstairs, you walk through the history of college football, whether it's through exhibitions, many of which are interactive, or through films. And then there's some Ole Miss flavor, from a "Speed Limit 18" sign, to an Archie Manning 1970 magazine cover, to a game ball from the 2011 seven-overtime game against Arkansas, and then the helmet wall, films and interactivity of the exhibits will blow you away.

- As part of bowl week, I also had the opportunity to visit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital, shadowing three of team's 21 seniors in Cody Prewitt, Billy Busch and Charlie Scott. It was great to watch the players interact with the patients, sharing stories and brightening their day. It gave you perspective. 

Another senior, Lavon Hooks, said it best: "It was a great opportunity getting to hang out with kids that might not get the same opportunities as us. It brightened my day, just being able to give back. I think it brightened their day, too, getting to play and hang out with some people they may see on TV and look up to."

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team had an interesting non-conference, defeating Creighton, Cincinnati away from Oxford, while losing to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky on their home floor. The Rebels closed out the non-conference slate with a 9-4 record, rolling past Austin Peay 92-63 on Saturday. Ole Miss shot a season-best 54.8 percent from the floor, but head coach Andy Kennedy was most pleased by 23 assists on 34 made field goals.

"There have been a lot of things I was not expecting," said Kennedy of non-conference play. "I felt like the continuity would be a little better because we had more experience. The reality is we are still integrating new guys into the way we do things. It took us a while to figure out who's best with whom. This team needs to share the ball. We have to help each other get shots."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers has come on strong entering the start on SEC play. He has scored in double figures in each of his last three games, including a team-high 18 points in the win over Austin Peay.

"Tonight as we were making that push, he was the guy that was being the player we need him to be," said Kenned of Summers, the Rebels' second-leading scorer. "My hope is he's getting back into a rhythm. He understands the importance that he brings to this team."

- The Rebels open SEC play on Tuesday when they play on the road at No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Kennedy and Summers both stressed the importance of making jump shots and keeping the Wildcats off the offensive glass to keep the game close and give themselves a chance at the upset.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened SEC play, defending their home court in a 71-57 win over Arkansas and then playing No. 11 Kentucky to the wire in a 64-58 loss on the road in Lexington. The Rebels led for 25:59 of the game, before a 6-0 run over the final 2:22 sealed the win for the Wildcats. Despite the loss, head coach Matt Insell and his team proved they're going to be a tough out for opponents this season.

- With the turn of the calendar, the start of the spring sports draw nearer, and something is whether three-time All-American and reigning SEC Player of the Year Nik Scholtz elects to return for his senior season in men's tennis. The Caledon, South Africa, native played in various Futures tournament this past summer and fall. With Scholtz, the Rebels would return six of their top seven player from last season, in addition to talented newcomers Gustav Hansson of Sweden and Zvonimir Babic of Croatia. 

A couple of dates to watch, as far as a possible return for Scholtz, are Jan. 7, when Ole Miss opens the 2015 season in the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational, Jan. 21, when Ole Miss classes begins, and Jan. 24, when Ole Miss begins play in the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

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With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football team moved one week closer to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Freeze's new $4.3 million base salary is tied for third among Southeastern Conference head coaches and tied for seventh nationally. It increases to $5 million if the Rebels advance to the SEC Championship Game, which would be tied for second among SEC coaches and tied for tied fourth nationally.

- Also, as part of the same release, Ole Miss announced it will unveil plans, including visuals and timelines, for the expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Monday, so stayed tuned for those.

- The first-ever two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, Deterrian Shackelford was honored for his community service and off-the-field contributions, winning the Wuerffel Trophy and being elected the AFCA Good Works Team Captain.

- The Ole Miss Alumni Association will hold its bowl bash on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. More details here. As we get closer to Dec. 31, be sure to visit and bookmark Ole Miss Bowl Central and Chick-fil-A Bowl Central and stay tuned to @OleMissFB and @CFAPeachBowl for all things Chick-fil-A Bowl related.

- There might be a few more video between now and Dec. 31, but here are two videos to check out from Ole Miss Sports Productions: The 2014 season highlight video and the official team Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl preview video. Great work, as always.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team moved to 6-3 on the season, suffering its third home loss in five such games this season. The Rebels led by as many as 17, and as many as 16 in the second half, but they were unable to overcome a second-half rally from Western Kentucky in an 81-74 loss Saturday.

"It's unacceptable, quite frankly," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "It's unacceptable for me, it's unacceptable for our team. I've tried and tried and tried to infuse pride. It's hard to infuse that, I have learned. We have really tried everything we could to get them to understand the importance of protecting home floor because it's so difficult to win on the road." 

- As many others noted, preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers was held to single-digit scoring for the fourth straight game against WKU. In each of the Rebels' three losses this season, he has scored just eight points.

"Basically, just got to do what I've got to do," Summers said. "I can't make no excuses. I have to get in some rhythm. It's frustrating. I can't pout. I can't cry about it. I have to continue to put the work in." 

- On the positive side, Stefan Moody led the Rebels in scoring for the fourth straight game, which has included 26 points against Cincinnati, 22 against Oregon, and most recently, 25 against WKU. He's averaging 21.3 points and has gone 14-of-27 from 3-point range during the four-game stretch.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded from back-to-back losses with perhaps its most complete performance of the season, cruising to an 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. With the win, the Rebels have a chance to go 10-3 for its best non-conference record since the 2011-12 season.

- In the win over South Alabama, five players scored in double figures and the Rebels shot a season-best 53.2 percent from the field. Defensively, Ole Miss forced 31 turnovers and held South Alabama to 29.5 percent shooting, including just four made field goals and 14 points in the second half.

- Not Ole Miss related, but if you haven't already, you should check out this Marcus Mariota Heisman tribute video from the University of Oregon Athletic Video Department. Great stuff. Mariota won the award, receiving 90.9 percent of the possible points in voting, the second-highest percentage ever. 

- On an Ole Miss-related note, the Rebels will face Heisman Trophy fourth-place finisher, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Ole Miss has already faced and defeated the third-place (Alabama's Amari Cooper) and eight-place (Mississippi State's Dak Prescott) finishers for the award.

- Ole Miss will have at least two representatives in the NFL Playoffs, as Brandon Bolden's New England Patriots and Donte Moncrief's Indianpolis Colts clinched division titles Sunday. Check out this story on Moncrief from Stephen Holder on the Indianapolis Star.

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