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Rebels Look to Enhance NCAA Tournament Resume

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.

Key Stretch Starts with Tough Test in LSU

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."

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

    in post Late Mistake Spoils Chad Kelly's Historic Performance

    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

    in post Heisman House Tour Heads to Oxford for Ole Miss-Georgia

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