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In this week's edition of Observations from the Best Seat in the House, Metz Camfield and I teamed up to give you our thoughts and opinions of the week that was in Ole Miss athletics. I was able to travel with the football team to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Saturday's SEC West showdown between Ole Miss and LSU. Here's what we have looking back on the previous week:

Austin Miller - Give a lot of credit to the Ole Miss "Landshark" defense that gave the team a chance Saturday, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to 10 points in four red-zone trips, but the offense couldn't take advantage of their opportunities, particularly late in the game.

"Our kids fought," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our defense gave us a chance to win the game, to be in the game, but we could not manage any points."

AM - Offensively, LSU bludgeoned the Ole Miss defense, executing 55 run plays compared to 16 pass plays, as the Tigers rushed for 264 yards. The two scoring drives for LSU: 17 plays, 90 yards, 9:07 and 13 plays, 95 yards, 5:59, featured a combined 25 run plays.

"They just wore us down and kept the ball from us," Freeze said. "We didn't have but maybe two possessions in the second quarter. They just ate the clock, and they're really good up front. That offensive line is really solid, and their backs are really good. That's the first time we've faced an offense quite like that."

AM - Defensively, LSU held Ole Miss to 107 yards of total offense in the second half, forcing five straight punts to start the half, including four three-and-outs. The Rebels finally put together some first downs on their last two drives, which ended in a turnover on downs and an interception with two seconds left.

"They were pretty good, number one," Freeze said. "They were able to stay in two-high on first and second down and stop our run game. We struggled there with (left tackle) Laremy (Tunsil) out for most of the second half, and we had to move some people around. That caused us some issues with playing younger kids, and they struggled a little bit in this environment against a really good defense."

AM - The Ole Miss defense extended two impressive streaks, having forced at least one turnover in 31 straight games and having allowed 20 or fewer points in 10 straight games. Both are the longest active streaks in the FBS.

AM - Another bright spot, in addition to the stingy, opportunistic Ole Miss defense, was the punting brilliance of Will Gleeson who landed four of his six punts inside the 10-yard line. For the season, he has landed 20 of his 38 punts inside the 20-yard line.

AM - Ole Miss played in front of a stadium-record crowd for the second straight road game (102,321), the second-largest crowd Ole Miss has ever played in front of, and it had an impact on the game. Maybe it did not a significant impact, but it had an impact nonetheless. Personally, Saturday night was as loud a stadium as I have ever heard covering Ole Miss.

AM - The history backs it up, as LSU improved to 46-3 during Saturday night home games under head coach Les Miles with the three losses coming against teams that were either ranked No. 1 at the time of the game or reached No. 1 at some point during that season.

Metz Camfield - I thought it was interesting that after the win the LSU fans rushed the field. For Ole Miss, this should come as a sign of respect and another sign of the "new normal." The football program has now gotten to a point where a win by an opposing team is so significant that its fans rush the field.

AM - Two more impressive stats that speak to LSU under Miles: The Tigers are now 21-16 when trailing at halftime, and it was their 24th fourth-quarter comeback.

AM - As Freeze noted in his postgame press conference and CBS Sports bracketology/bowls expert Jerry Palm notes here, Ole Miss remains in control of its destiny in the SEC Western Division and likely the College Football Playoff.

MC - The Rebels' dream season is still very much in tact, as Ole Miss has just one loss and a number of highly-ranked opponents still on the schedule. If Ole Miss wins out, it will represent the Western Division in the SEC Championship game and will almost be guaranteed a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoffs thanks to a number of impressive wins.

AM - Looking ahead, Ole Miss hosts Auburn in a de facto playoff game featuring one-loss teams. Two things to watch this week: An injury update from Freeze on Monday, including the status of Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Cody Prewitt and Ben Still, and the release of the first playoff committee rankings on Tuesday.

AM - The Ole Miss soccer team picked up three big points, rallying past Vanderbilt 2-1 on the road, ahead of their final regular-season match against Tennessee at 7 p.m. Thursday. Both teams will be looking to secure a spot in the 10-team SEC Tournament. It's also Senior Night for goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, the all-time wins leader for a goalkeeper at Ole Miss.

AM - Congrats to former Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief, now of the Indianapolis Colts, who hauled in seven catches for 113 yards and his first career touchdown.

AM - In case you missed it, here's a unique video from Ole Miss Sports Productions: Landshark Symphony set to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

Rebels Fall Short in Death Valley

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Ole Miss had its chances. 

The Ole Miss defense made seven points stand up for the better part of four quarters, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to just three points on its first three trips to the red zone. 

But LSU finally broke through, going ahead 10-7 on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 5:07 left in the game. It capped a 13-play, 95-yard drive that included 12 runs before the scoring play.

"Our kids fought," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our defense gave us a chance to win the game, to be in the game, but we could not manage any points."

On the ensuing drive, Ole Miss moved into LSU territory before the Rebels were stopped short on  3rd-and-2 and 4th-and-1, giving the ball back to the Tigers.

With LSU likely needing just one first down to run out the clock, the Ole Miss defense forced a three-and-out to give the offense one last chance, as the offense took over at their own 25-yard line with 1:09 left on the clock.

Ole Miss had its second chance, driving to the LSU 30-yard line with nine seconds left on the clock, converting a key fourth down and drawing a defensive pass interference penalty, before quarterback Bo Wallace was intercepted at the 1-yard line, his first interception in SEC play.

"There were nine seconds on the clock and thought we could sprint out," Freeze said. "(Bo) needed to take the flat throw or throw it out of bounds. Worst case, we were at the same spot. We were trying to get it to the left hash or left middle, and we didn't get it done there."

"Bo would tell you, we were pretty clear that we were going to take the flat throw or throw it bounds, and then try a field goal. He must have felt like he had a touchdown play there with the clear-out. I wish we could have done that over for sure."

Ole Miss was outgained 406-313, converting just 15 first downs and going 5-of-17 on third down. The Rebels were limited to 137 yards on 34 carries, while Wallace finished the game 14-of-33 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Between the scoring drive late in the first quarter and the last two drives of the game, the Rebels punted on seven straight possessions, including five three-and-outs. 

On of the key plays of this stretch included a 34-yard touchdown run for running back I'Tavius Mathers called back on a holding penalty.

"They're pretty good, number one," said Freeze of LSU's defense. "They were able to stay in 2-high on first and second down and stop our running game for the most post. We struggled there. Laremy (Tunsil) was out for most of the second half. We had to move some people around and that caused us some issues where we played some younger kids.

"We had a couple of chances. We just didn't seem to win many of the one-on-ones. They tackled extremely well and put us in a lot of third down, and we converted hardly any."

With the loss, Ole Miss moves to 7-1 overall, 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play, but by virtue of its win over Alabama and remaining games against Auburn (Nov. 1) and Mississippi State (Nov. 29), both at home, the Rebels remain in control of their destiny in the SEC Western Division and likely the College Football Playoff.

"They're hurt," said Freeze of the team's demeanor after the game. "They have to figure out how they want to handle it. We're not the only team in America that's going to go through this. If you had told me this team was going to be where we are right now, all of us would have been pleased. We're obviously not pleased leaving here after the season we have had. 

"This stretch is tough. I knew going through this stretch was going to wear on you physically and mentally. The thing is, we still can control everything we want with the schedule that lies ahead. They're down, they're disappointed, and hopefully we'll respond the correct way."

The Rebels' next game with No. 5 Auburn serves as a defacto playoff game, as both teams enter with one loss on the season.

"We're ready for the next one," Wallace said. "We're thinking everyone is going to have one loss now. We have Auburn coming to our place next week. That's what we have our mind on."

Three and Out: Ole Miss-LSU

Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss travels to No. 23 LSU for an SEC West Showdown on Saturday.

Stopping The Run

Not just this year, but throughout head coach Les Miles' tenure, LSU's running game has been a key to success.

LSU, which ranks sixth in the SEC in rushing offense (220.9 ypg), was held to a season-low 89 rushing yards in a 34-29 loss to Mississippi State and 138 rushing yards in a 41-7 loss to Auburn.

The Ole Miss defense leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in yards per play allowed, giving up just 4.15 yards per play, and they have been equally dominant against the run and pass.

Stopping the run, as Ole Miss did last week against Tennessee, limiting the Volunteers to zero rushing yards on 28 attempts, would also force the game into the hands of quarterback Anthony Jennings.

The sophomore will make his seventh start of the season, the eight of his career, and has completed 64-of-128 passes for 1,048 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions this season.

"It's run, run, run, and you want to stick your nose up in there," said defensive coordinator Dave Wommack of preparation for LSU's offense. "We have to do a good job of that in practice, shocking them every once in a while with a pass."

Managing The Game

In addition to the dominant defense, quarterback Bo Wallace and punter Will Gleeson have been two keys actors in the different management of games this season.

Wallace attempted just 19 passes and 28 passes against Texas A&M and Tennessee, two of his three lowest totals this season, leaning on a rushing attack that eclipsed 150 yards in both games.

Asked to manage the game more this season, particularly in recent games, Wallace has not turned the ball over in SEC play, attempting 108 passes and carrying the ball 49 times over four games.

"The big thing for me is I'm not trying to mess it up," Wallace said. "I'm going in and trying to not have any turnovers. The defense is playing well. If we punt it past the 50-yard line, they're probably not going to get points. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable." 

Gleeson has been named National Punter of the Week twice this season, as he ranks third in the SEC and 11th nationally with a punting average of 45.5 yards, landing 16 of his 32 punts inside the 20. 

Behind the left leg of Gleeson, Ole Miss also ranks second in the SEC and third nationally with a net punting average of 43.3 yards.

"He's been a huge factor," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We have won field position with his punting. With the way our defense has played, the way our coverage units have played and the way he's placing his punts, it has allowed us to be very patient at times offensively."

'Saturday Night in Death Valley'

It has been said that Death Valley is where opponents' dreams come to die.

Through seven games, Ole Miss has ignored such history, instead making its own. The Rebels are 7-0 for the first time since 1962, when they went 10-0 and earned a share of the national title. 

A win over LSU would give Ole Miss its second 8-0 start in program history, but to leave Tiger Stadium with a win, they must continue to ignore history and make their own.

LSU is 45-4 in night games in Tiger Stadium under head coach Les Miles, including 45-3 in Saturday night home games. 

All three losses came to teams that were either No. 1 at the time (Florida in 2008 and Alabama in 2012) or reached No. 1 at some point during the year (Mississippi State in 2014).

"We have to play a very difficult team in a difficult environment in a difficult rivalry series," Freeze said. "Who knows what the outcome will be, but I do think they will have to beat us. I don't think it would be because our kids aren't ready."

Ahead of a rivalry renewed on a national stage, complete with a visit of ESPN's "College GameDay" and the mystique of a Saturday night game in Death Valley, here's link roundup of videos and stories from local and national media regarding the SEC West showdown between No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 23 LSU:

VIDEO: Ole Miss Film Room, breaking down the Rebels' defense, from ESPN.com

VIDEO: Can LSU establish the run against Ole Miss? from ESPN.com

VIDEO: LSU's chances of scoring on Ole Miss from ESPN.com

Freeze at home with Ole Miss, writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com

'Grandpa' D.T. Shackelford plays key role on Ole Miss defense, writes Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com

Wallace's experience an asset for Ole Miss, writes Jungkyu Lee of ESPN.com

Ole Miss-LSU: Why Rebels can run table and win national title, writes Coy Wire of Fox Sports

Weekend Watch List: Ole Miss-LSU a precursor to brutal SEC West stretch, writes Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports

SEC teams not done knocking each other off, writes John Zenor of the Associated Press

No. 3 Ole Miss relies on tough defense for wins, writes David Brandt of the Associated Press

Ole Miss much different since last visit to LSU, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger

Australian punters are on both sides of LSU-Ole Miss, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger

Ole Miss carries defensive streak into LSU game, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger

Five things to know about the LSU vs. Ole Miss game, writes Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com

The LSU-Ole Miss rivalry is back with a vengeance, writes Ron Higgins of NOLA.com

Numbers that Matter: Ole Miss vs. LSU, writes Bill Bender of Sporting News

Here's two videos from Ole Miss and one video from LSU to get you ready for Saturday:

 

 


LesMiles.Net - OleMiss Trailer from LSU Football on Vimeo.


Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and LSU head coach Les Miles on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of Saturday's game in Baton Rouge.

For the full SEC teleconference, go here.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (starts at 1:06:12 mark)

Opening statement...

"We're excited to go down to Baton Rouge and play in one of college football's best environments. It's a traditional rivalry game for us and those guys. We have the utmost respect for Coach Miles, his staff and the job they have done throughout the years. It also provides a great test for us, which is something we continue to need to get to where we want to go, and we're looking forward to it."

On the players' understanding of the Ole Miss-LSU series over the years...

"It's always important to educate the new guys on the history of this game. We started doing that Sunday, and we'll continue throughout the week, just like we have done each year I have been here. The guys who have been here have an understanding of it. Everyone in your program needs to understand it, so we'll try to take step to make sure we do."

On LSU's improvement over the last four games...

"The young kids are maturing. They're playing quite a few talented, young kids, and the more they get on the field in these environments, the better of they're going to be. They have figured what their strengths are and are leaning on them more.

"They have changed defensively some. And that's not something they typically have had to do. It's been very successful for them the last couple of weeks. They have done some different things and leaned more on some of their strengths."

On games from the Ole Miss-LSU series that stand out over the years...

"There are two that really jump out in my mind. The first one is Eli's year here when it was for the West Championship. I remember the excitement around Oxford at that time. And up until us playing Alabama here a couple of weeks ago, I would say that was the most festive, energetic, passionate atmosphere we have had on campus.

"You always remember the Billy Cannon run, of course, but I didn't actually witness that. Our last year going there with Ed Orgeron, we went down there with 48 players and took the game to overtime. I remember that one vividly, too. My first year here going there, to lose a game, and it's probably the one loss that I have been ever been a part of as a coach where I actually still say I had fun.

"They beat us with a punt return right at the end of the game. We were such a young team and no one expected us to compete. Our kids did, and we had a chance to win it at the end. I actually had a lot of joy, I had lot of fun that game, which is rare for us coaches to say that in a loss. That game went a long way to building our morale and toward where we were going."

On the rivalry with LSU, relative to Mississippi State, as far as the fans...

"It depends on who you ask. My take on it is this: If you were to poll the more mature Ole Miss fan, the one who's been around longer, you may get LSU at No. 1 with them. With the younger generation, you're going to get State at No. 1 and LSU at No. 2. That's my take on it."

LSU head coach Les Miles (starts at 2:05 mark)

Opening statement...

"We're a team that's continuing to improve and showed improvement against Kentucky in all three phases. It's certainly going to be a great test for us against a very capable Ole Miss team. We look forward to that competition."

On the history of the Ole Miss-LSU series over the years...

"I have been made aware of it in my 10 years here. I recognize the great competition and the personal nature of the game."

On Ole Miss...

"They're very good in all three phases. That's the key. They have done a good job offensively, they have done a very job good job defensively, and their special teams are playing big. They are very, very talented."

On quarterback Anthony Jennings being benched at Auburn, a game in which Brandon Harris started...

"Benched is not necessarily the word. More or less, it's the evolution of the position, if you will. Him understanding competition and understanding what all needed to be done at the quarterback spot certainly has improved not only his abilities, but Brandon Harris as well."

On last year's meeting with Ole Miss...

"Certainly the most recent past is something we have reviewed in our cut-ups. Our guys recognize that game."

On Ole Miss defensively...

"It's a well-conceived defense. It has speed and a nice zone package that can change to man in the secondary. There's a lot to that defense, not just the physically. Conceptually, they do a really good job. They're a defense that continues to improve."

On the win at Florida...

"Our football team was ready to go to The Swamp and win. There's some maturity here that provides some quality leadership. Some of those young guys had never been to The Swamp. They listened and understood what was expected and then played extremely. 

"That's an example of how we can play. Kentucky then was an example of how we can play at home. We're hopefully improving and looking forward to the challenges that lay just ahead in front of us this Saturday with Ole Miss."

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It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations surrounding the Homecoming festivities this weekend. Let's get into it:

1. When "College GameDay" visits Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, it will be the third time in four weeks a nationally-televised college football pregame show will air on-site prior to an Ole Miss game. 

If Ole Miss and Auburn continue to win, "College GameDay" producer Lee Fitting said GameDay would likely return to Oxford on Nov. 1, making it four times in five weeks. And if Ole Miss and Mississippi State continue to win? "College GameDay" could visit Oxford an unprecedented three times this season.

2. The SEC West might no longer be undefeated against SEC East teams, but it placed four teams in the top five of the latest AP Poll. Mississippi State and Ole Miss held at Nos. 1 and 3, respectively, while Alabama moved up three spots to No. 4 and Auburn moved up a spot to No. 5.

 It's the first time one league has ever had four of the nation's top five teams in the AP Poll, much less the same division. Ole Miss has already defeated one (23-17 vs. Alabama) and gets the other two at home (Nov. 1 vs. Auburn, Nov. 29 vs. Mississippi State).

3. That being said, I have said it, Metz has said it, and Coach Freeze has said something to the same effect: For fans who are worried about polls and playoff projections, rest assured, if Ole Miss keeps winning, everything will take care of itself.

4. Don't look now, but LSU might have regained its mojo, having won its last two games (30-27 at Florida, 41-3 vs. Kentucky) and returning to the national rankings. Strange things tend to happen in this rivalry, and then you add a role reversal with Ole Miss as the favored team and a night game in Death Valley to the equation, and it should make for an intriguing matchup.

5. Speaking to the media Friday, Marcus Spears compared this year's Ole Miss team to his 2003 LSU team, which finished 13-1 and defeated Oklahoma 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS National Championship.

The 2003 LSU team was led by a dominant defense that allowed just 11.0 points per game and forced 33 turnovers, returning seven for touchdowns. Offensively, the Tigers had an efficient quarterback in Matt Mauck and some explosive playmakers in Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson and Skyler Green. 

As you can tell, there are some definite similarities between the two teams.

6. Another mistake-free game from Bo Wallace. Through four SEC games, Wallace has yet to turn the ball over, while throwing seven touchdowns and running in another two. In case you missed it, you want to watch his appearance on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this week, where he poked fun at the "Good Bo, Bad Bo" narrative.

7. Senquez Golson picked off two more passes, giving him seven for the season, which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. It was his second multi-interception game of the season, and the third of his career. The other? 2012 at LSU. Golson also now has an interception in three straight games.

8. What a difference a year makes on the defensive line. In last year's matchup with LSU, also seven games into the season, Ole Miss was forced to move Bryon Bennett from defensive tackle to defensive end out of necessity because of injuries. A year later, the Rebels are rotating 11-12 guys on the defensive line and redshirting a trio of talented freshmen.

"For most of the guys, we try to rotate them with an even number of reps for some games," defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. "Robert (Nkemdiche) is going to be in there a little bit more because he's a little bit of a freak at that 3-technique and means so much to us doing that. Most of them get close to the same number of reps."

9. One of those 11-12 guys is freshman Marquis Haynes, the reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, who accounted for 2.5 of the Rebels' 7.0 sacks against Tennessee. He has 4.5 sacks over the last two games and 6.5 sacks for the season, 1.5 sacks shy of Jadaveon Clowney's freshman record. 

"Marquis Haynes gets better every week," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I told a lot of people in preseason, if they called me and they asked me who nobody knows about that was going to make a name for themselves, and I would say without hesitation it was going to be Marquis Haynes. He's proving to do that."

10. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but it's impeccable how well players have performed when they're featured in the game day programs. Notably, Senquez Golson sealed the win over Alabama when he was featured in the Alabama game day program. And Saturday against Tennessee, Mike Hilton intercepted a pass when he was featured in the player spotlight. Go back and look.

11. This was the best Square Jam yet. There was what looked to be the biggest crowd in the history of the three-year event and a star-studded panel of judges, and then Stefan Moody and Roderick Lawrence put on a show in the slam dunk contest. Earlier this summer, Moody said he had a 46-inch vertical jump, and he showed it off, as he rocked the rim to take home the title.

12. There's a lot of excitement surrounding the newcomers on the men's side. Three of the newcomers are among Sports Illustrated's projected top 100 transfer scorers: Moody (14th, 11.4 ppg), Terence Smith (34th, 8.9 ppg) and M.J. Rhett (94th, 4.7 ppg). Sports Illustrated also projects Jarvis Summers sixth (averaging 18.8 ppg) in their projection of the nation's top 100 scorers.

13. The Ole Miss volleyball found some answers on the road, winning at Auburn and Alabama this weekend, running its win streak to three matches in the process. Ole Miss returns home to host LSU in a nationally-televised match on the SEC Network.

14. We always plug him, but don't miss out on Josh McCoy's photo gallery from Square Jam. Great action and great backdrop made some great photos.

Highlights from today's media opportunity with SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears discussing the show's visit to Oxford for the SEC matchup between No. 3 Ole Miss and Tennessee. 

Tessitore recalls calling the first college game for the Rebels' star-studded sophomore class, Tebow talks about Bo Wallace's improvement as a quarterback, and Spears sees similarities between this year's Ole Miss team and his 2003 LSU team that won the national championship.

SEC Nation Host Joe Tessitore

On the backdrop of The Grove for SEC Nation...

"When I have done Ole Miss games before, I always get to the stadium early, so I can walk through The Grove and take that all in. It should be pretty special to have the SEC Nation set fired up. 

"When you look at our set, it should scream Ole Miss to you. When you look at it, you know what you're watching. That's one of the things I like about our set. You look at it and you know you're watching grand Southern football. It fits in beautifully here. It looks like it could be part of your campus. 

"I like how open it is, and it allows us to play to the crowd. You will see us tomorrow, when we're live on the air, stand up, turn to the crowd and interact with them during commercial breaks. This is a magic ride kind of season here, so it's going to be a celebratory kind of morning."

On the sophomore class, having called their first college game...

"That group, you knew. I could remember that afternoon, sitting there and hyping up (Robert) Nkemdiche in his debut, and you just knew it was going to happen. And to be able to say a year later that they have even over-delivered on all the hype, it's true. 

"It was an incredible recruiting class that, in a span of 18 months, has Ole Miss competing for a national title. That's as good as a group you're going to see. But it takes that kind of a group. It takes guys who buy in and all believe. Laquon Treadwell was a huge part of that. 

"I'm one of those geeks who follow recruiting, so I know the role he played in corralling everyone and buying into the vision early, a vision that's pretty easy to buy when Hugh Freeze is selling it."

SEC Nation Analyst Tim Tebow

On Ole Miss...

"What stands out is the heart they play with offensively and defensively. Everybody talks about the Landshark defense flying around, but you look at guys like Jaylen Walton fighting through tackles. That's just heart. They play together and they play as a family.

"Spending the day with Coach Freeze and the team yesterday, you could really see that and the environment they set. It seems like it's a fun time for all these players right now."

On Bo Wallace...

"He's improved a lot. In SEC play, he doesn't have a turnover. He's making big plays, but he's also not making big errors in the biggest of games. That's been huge, especially when you have a big-time defense. 

"What I like most about Bo is that courage and leadership and that 'it' factor he has, like on that 3rd-and-9 last week versus Texas A&M. 

"He knows where the sticks are, he fights through the line of scrimmage and he dives and goes over a defender to get the first down. That ultimately led to a touchdown, and they went up 28-7 and that was a huge play in the game. He has that 'it' that you can't necessarily teach."

SEC Nation Analyst Marcus Spears

On the backdrop of The Grove for SEC Nation...

"It's awesome. We should have a pretty good crowd. This is their network. That's how we resonate on campus. People understand we're more personable and we know the history of each school. It will resonate with people, and hopefully it's hyped up out here. It's a pretty big game. 

"Tennessee is not whatever they think they are. Tennessee has played everybody down to the wire. They have lost some close games. They're one of those teams on the cusp. The energy in the crowd should be good tomorrow."

On Robert Nkemdiche...

"He's a man's man. He's a beast. He plays with a high intensity level. He can knock guys back and he has great bend. I know I sound like a pro scout, but he can win with leverage and he wins with tenacity. He has it all, all of the tools. He can be a D-end or a D-tackle in the NFL. That poses a lot of problems for offensive lines. 

"First of all, you can move him, and he can be as effective from different positions. That's what I like about him. More than anything, I like his attitude and I like the way he plays."

On the transformation of Ole Miss under head coach Hugh Freeze...

"Coach Freeze has done a tremendous job. He's implemented a philosophy with this football team. He's put guys in place and he's recruited well. In order to stay atop this league, you have to have players. That's what it really boils down to. 

"All these coaches, we call them great, and we say they won so many games. It's about these players. The coaches, structurally, put them in the right position and put them in successful spots to make plays, but it comes down to the talent and the talent level. 

"We talk about Alabama, LSU, Auburn, all these schools that have been at the top. It's about talent, and now Hugh Freeze has a team that's as talented as anybody in the country. 

"You have a great quarterback who's playing really consistent right now, not turning the football over, offensive line, (Laquon) Treadwell out on the corner making plays.

"And this defense. It reminds me of the '03 LSU Tigers. It's a good mix, and it's a great group of talent, and it's coming together. Everybody is believing in what they're doing. That's to Coach Freeze's credit. It's about those guys he's putting out there on the football field, and I'm sure he would tell you the same thing."

On comparisons between the 2003 LSU team and this year's Ole Miss team...

"It starts with winning games. It starts with a belief system that you can compete against anybody in the country, that you have the talented and the play-makers to win every football game. That was our train of thought. We thought we were stacked in enough positions that there was no team you could roll out in college football and say LSU was not physically better or LSU did not have level of talent. 

"Ole Miss is in that same boat right now. Alabama has a tremendous amount of talent like they have always had, but if you go man for man in the whole country, I stack this Ole Miss team up against anybody, especially on defense."

On the Ole Miss running game...

"What Ole Miss is doing as well as anybody right now, is they're winning games defensively, and you can do it. That has been proven in the NFL and that has been proven in college, but I think Bo Wallace gives them the extra oomph that they need to win big games and put themselves in position to be in the College Football Playoff.

"The run game is a little different. Sometimes your team ins't built that way, but throwing these quick bubble screens is the same as a handoff. Getting these guys in space to make plays in the open fields is the equivalent of a handoff. Everything is not deep down the field.

"We look at turning around and handing the ball off to the running back as the run game. A lot of these teams are revolutionizing that by throwing quick hitches to receivers, then they beat a corner and they might go to the house. They have implemented stuff like that to help them out a lot. 

"Eventually, it will come town to a game or this year, where they will have to figure out to establish the run game. If they can, they will have success. They are just as good as anybody, if they show they can do that."

On the Ole Miss defense...

"You have to overcome to so much as a football team playing against this defense. The way they play, not only the way they play, but they creative turnovers. And that's huge. 

"A team can only give up 305 yards per game, which they consider pretty good, and they only gave 70-80 rushing yards, and they consider that pretty good, but when you have a defense like this that does that and creates turnovers and scores, it's tough to beat. 

"We led the league in scoring touchdowns on defense when we won the national championship. It's a formula that you can win with, and they have the guys to do it."

Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Three of SEC Media Days, which featured Steve Shaw (SEC), Justin Connolly (ESPN), Bill Hancock (College Football Playoff), Missouri, LSU and Arkansas.

The Ole Miss official website, OleMissSports.com, and the SEC official website, SECSports.com, will have continuous coverage of SEC Football Media Days, as will ESPNU, ESPN and Watch ESPN.

SEC imbalance: When will the West's dominance over the East end?, writes Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com

SEC coaches using Auburn's magical turnaround as preseason rallying cry, writes Joel A. Erickson of AL.com

Steve Shaw notes changes to targeting rule, quarterback safety and other points at SEC Media Days, writes Drew Champlin of AL.com

SEC Network TV launch looming; some fans in dark, writes John Zenor of the Associated Press

Mizzou was an SEC leader -- not an outlier -- all along, writes Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com

Mizzou's Mauk ready for SEC close-up, writes Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The best of LSU's Les Miles at SEC media day, writes Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com

'It's fun': Les Miles' trip through SEC media days, writes Ross Dellenger of The Advocate

Rabalais: These Tigers should relish the underdog role, writes Scott Rabalais of The Advocate

LSU football to rely on freshmen more than ever in 2014, writes Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com

Freshman Leonard Fournette draws lofty comparisons at LSU, writes Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com

Bielema, Razorbacks Stick With Plan, writes Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau

Razorbacks mastering their 'Hoganese,' writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com

Bret Bielema, Gus Malzahn not 'breaking bread,' but hurry-up adversaries do respect each other, writes Brandon Marcello of AL.com


Ole Miss clinched the SEC Western Championship and locked up the second overall seed in the SEC Tournament as the Rebels won two of three games at Texas A&M this past weekend. With the series win, Ole Miss finished the regular season 40-16 overall and 19-11 in SEC play and moved up two spots in week's official RPI rankings, from No. 15 to No. 13.

Fellow SEC national seed contenders Vanderbilt and South Carolina are Nos. 6 and 8, respectively. Other national seed contenders of note are Louisiana-Lafayette (7), Miami (FL) (12) and TCU (14).

As far as the RPI top 25 and top 50, there are a couple of Ole Miss opponents to watch entering conference tournament play this week. Kentucky and Alabama each fell three spots to Nos. 22 and 24, respectively. Arkansas and UCF each moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to Nos. 41 and 46, respectively, while Georgia fell 10 spots to No. 55. 

The Rebels will open SEC Tournament play with either No. 7 seed Arkansas (No. 41 RPI) or No. 10 seed Texas A&M (No. 33) on Wednesday, followed by No. 3 seed LSU (No. 16), No. 6 seed Vanderbilt (No. 6) or No. 11 seed Tennessee (No. 45) on Thursday.

Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among his eight national seeds, while Baseball America's Aaron Fitt had Vanderbilt replacing Ole Miss as a national seed in last week's projections. After Ole Miss' series win over Texas A&M, Rogers still had the Rebels in as the eighth and final national seed with South Carolina and TCU, among other teams also in the mix for a national seed.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

40-16 Overall | 19-11 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 22

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 14-11

Record against RPI top 100: 21-14

Road Record: 15-7

Florida Gators

37-19 Overall | 21-9 SEC (1st)

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 14-7

Record against RPI top 50: 22-13

Record against RPI top 100: 29-17

Road Record: 12-8

LSU Tigers

40-14-1 Overall | 17-11-1 SEC (3rd)

RPI: 16

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 45

Record against RPI top 25: 4-8

Record against RPI top 50: 12-12

Record against RPI top 100: 18-12-1

Road Record: 10-9

South Carolina Gamecocks

42-14 Overall | 18-12 SEC (t-4th)

RPI: 8

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 34

Record against RPI top 25: 8-7

Record against RPI top 50: 12-9

Record against RPI top 100: 23-12

Road Record: 8-9

Vanderbilt Commodores

40-16 Overall | 17-13 SEC (6th)

RPI: 6

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 4

Record against RPI top 25: 8-6

Record against RPI top 50: 18-14

Record against RPI top 100: 24-15

Road Record: 13-7

With a series win over Georgia, Ole Miss remained in first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division and can clinch the division with at least two wins at Texas A&M this weekend. However, for the second straight week, the Rebels dropped in this week's official RPI rankings, from No. 12 to No. 15.

Arkansas, which Ole Miss won two of three games against earlier this season, moved up four spots to No. 50, while Alabama, which swept the Rebels earlier this season moved more solidly into the RPI top 25 to No. 21.

Ole Miss finishes the regular season with a midweek contest at Arkansas State (No. 60), followed by a three-game series at Texas A&M (No. 35). UCF, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, is another opponent to watch in the RPI rankings, as the Golden Knights dropped eight spots to No. 48.

Both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt and Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among their eight national seeds in last week's projections, and the Rebels remain in both the regional host and national seed discussion with one weekend left in the regular season.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Fitt's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Is it a given that either Rice or TCU gets a national seed, and are they competing with each other for one? If so, how is that race shaping up? Is any other Lone Star program in the national seed conversation?

A: I'd hesitate to say it's a "given" that one of them will be a national seed, because there's still a lot of competition for those eight spots; there are three very strong ACC contenders and there will probably be three strong SEC contenders (Florida, Ole Miss, and the Vandy/South Carolina series winner), plus Oregon State and Louisiana-Lafayette and Indiana. Frogs and Owls must both continue to play at a high level; and I do believe they are probably both competing for one spot. Right now, I lean toward TCU because it plays in a better league and is 14-8 vs. the top 50, vs. Rice's 8-9. And no, I don't see another team from the state in the national seed mix. Houston has a great RPI, but being in third place in the AAC (three games back, too) really hurts.

Q: Hey Aaron, do you still see Ole Miss being a national seed if they win their series against A&M this week and is Florida still a national seed if they lose this week to Tennessee?

A: Yes on Ole Miss. Feel like Florida is probably safe even if it loses this weekend -- Gators had such a cushion to work with in the standings and in the RPI, and all those top 25 and top 50 wins are loud.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Rogers's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Hey Kendall, big fan here. I was wondering who you think from the SEC will get a national seed draw. Do you think two could get one? Thanks.

A: I anticipate having Ole Miss and Florida still in as national seeds this week. I could see the SEC getting a third national seed, and right now, I would give that to Vanderbilt. I'd also keep an eye on South Carolina if the Gamecocks take that series from the Commodores this weekend. Right now I'd go with two national seeds, but three absolutely far from out of the question.

Q: Will a series win at Texas A&M secure at national seed spot for Ole Miss?

A: Would be pretty hard to deny at that point. Would mean OM finished the season exactly the way the committee would like to see it finish.

Q: What does Ole Miss have to do to host?

A: OM is hosting barring some 0-3 vs. A&M, and 0-2 in the SEC tournament type of deal ....

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

37-15 Overall | 17-10 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 15

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 23

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 14-11

Record against RPI top 100: 18-13

Road Record: 12-6

Remaining Schedule: at Arkansas State (No. 60), 3 at Texas A&M (No. 35)

Alabama Crimson TIde

32-19 Overall | 14-12 SEC (7th)

RPI: 21

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 10

Record against RPI top 25: 8-9

Record against RPI top 50: 13-13

Record against RPI top 100: 19-17

Road Record: 10-10

Remaining Schedule: at Jacksonville State (No. 101), 3 vs. Mississippi State (No. 42)

Florida Gators

34-18 Overall | 19-8 SEC (1st)

RPI: 3

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 14-7

Record against RPI top 50: 23-12

Record against RPI top 100: 27-16

Road Record: 10-7

Remaining Schedule: South Florida (No. 143), 3 at Tennessee (No. 44)

LSU Tigers

36-14-1 Overall | 14-11-1 SEC (6th)

RPI: 20

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 48

Record against RPI top 25: 4-8

Record against RPI top 50: 14-12-1

Record against RPI top 100: 15-12-1

Road Record: 7-9

Remaining Schedule: Northwestern State (No. 133), 3 at Auburn (No. 68)

South Carolina Gamecocks

39-13 Overall | 16-11 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 34

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 14-10

Record against RPI top 100: 18-11

Road Record: 6-8

Remaining Schedule: The Citadel (No. 202), 3 at Vanderbilt (No. 7)

Vanderbilt Commodores

38-14 Overall | 16-11 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 7

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 11

Record against RPI top 25: 7-4

Record against RPI top 50: 17-12

Record against RPI top 100: 22-14

Road Record: 13-7

Remaining Schedule: Southeast Missouri State (No. 75), 3 vs. South Carolina (No. 12)

Ole Miss moved into first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a series win over Arkansas this past weekend. However, the Rebels dropped eight spot to No. 12 in this week's official RPI rankings.

Two Ole Miss opponents -- UCF and Mississippi State -- moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to Nos. 39 and 40, respectively. Auburn, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, dropped 20 spots to No. 67. The Rebels' next opponent, Georgia, moved up 17 spots to No. 45.

Three other Ole Miss opponents to watch in the RPI rankings are Alabama, Arkansas and Arkansas. The Crimson Tide, which swept the Rebels earlier this season, dropped five spots to No. 25, while Arkansas and Arkansas State each moved up five spots to Nos. 54 and 55, respectively.

Both Baseball America's Aaron Fitt and Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers had Ole Miss among their eight national seeds in last week's projections, and the Rebels remains in both the regional host and national seed discussion with two weekends left in the regular season.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Fitt's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: What are your thoughts on Ole Miss' and do you agree that if they win their last two series that they will be a national seed?

A: I think that's a very good, balanced club -- one of the most dangerous offensive teams out there, and solid enough on the mound to be quite dangerous. Yes, if they win their last two series, they'll be a national seed.

Q: Yet another week of interesting SEC developments. Vandy looks poised for the hosting bubble and about ready to get into serious national seed conversation. South Carolina appears to be headed in the other direction and perhaps LSU. Besides the obvious choice of Florida as a national seed, who from the SEC seems most likely to get a 2nd national seed. UM or Vandy? LSU, Bama, or USC-E still have a reasonable/possible path?

A: I still think a lot remains to be settled over these last three weeks, but I'm leaning toward Ole Miss as a second national seed from the SEC. Vandy, LSU and South Carolina are all still alive in that race, I think, but Alabama is falling back. It's still a pretty fluid picture; a lot can change depending on how these teams finish.

Here are some Ole Miss-related questions and answers from Rogers's weekly chat on Monday:

Q: Safe to say Ole Miss is a lock as a regional host?

A: The Rebels would have to do something pretty bad the rest of the way (last two weekends) to lose a host site. This is one of those years where I think Mike Bianco really needed to get a host, and he's going to get it barring a surprise.

Q: Will Ole Miss still be projected as a national seed after this weekend?

A: I would say so ... but let me look at everything tomorrow. But right now, I would say yes.

Q: If the season ended today, who are your 4 or 5 SEC hosts? And, any predictions on who hosts from the league when these last two weeks (plus SECT) play out? Do you think we'll see a traveling 1 seed from the SEC this year? Please not VU to Liberty. I'd hate that more than getting stuck with Louisville again.

A: I still like LSU as my fourth SEC host with Florida, South Carolina and Ole Miss as the others. I also think Vanderbilt and Alabama are heavily in the mix. Vandy still has South Carolina, and that could go a long way into determining who gets a host site in the league. That's still a wide open race outside of Ole Miss and Florida at this point, who both look to be in very good shape ... Don't see an SEC team traveling as a No. 1.

Q: If you had to pick a team from the SEC not named Florida to make it to Omaha, who would it be?

A: South Carolina. If the Gamecocks are healthy in the postseason, and that's still a big if, they'll be in Omaha, IMO. My other team after that is Ole Miss. Ole Miss is extremely balanced this year, and that offense has a chance to put up some big numbers in the NCAA postseason.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss Rebels

35-14 Overall | 15-9 SEC (2nd)

RPI: 12

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 22

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 10-9

Record against RPI top 100: 16-12

Road Record: 12-6

Alabama Crimson TIde

30-18 Overall | 13-11 SEC (t-6th)

RPI: 25

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 16

Record against RPI top 25: 7-8

Record against RPI top 50: 11-10

Record against RPI top 100: 18-16

Road Record: 9-9

Florida Gators

33-15 Overall | 18-6 SEC (1st)

RPI: 2

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 13-5

Record against RPI top 50: 20-8

Record against RPI top 100: 26-12

Road Record: 10-7

LSU Tigers

33-11 Overall | 13-10-1 SEC (5th)

RPI: 17

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 44

Record against RPI top 25: 3-7

Record against RPI top 50: 11-10-1

Record against RPI top 100: 14-11-1

Road Record: 7-9

South Carolina Gamecocks

35-13 Overall | 13-11 SEC (t-6th)

RPI: 11

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 30

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 13-8

Record against RPI top 100: 18-11

Road Record: 6-8

Vanderbilt Commodores

36-12 Overall | 14-10 SEC (t-3rd)

RPI: 5

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 19

Record against RPI top 25: 5-2

Record against RPI top 50: 14-8

Record against RPI top 100: 18-12

Road Record: 11-6

Remaining Schedule For Ole Miss:

May 9-11 vs. Georgia (45)

May 13 at Arkansas State (55)

May 15-17 at Texas A&M (32)

By The Numbers: Ole Miss Baseball

After a weekend sweep of No. 17 Kentucky, Ole Miss moved up five spots to No. 4 in this week's official RPI rankings

Auburn, which Ole Miss swept earlier this season, moved into the RPI top 50 to No. 47, and UCF, which Ole Miss also swept earlier this season, moved more solidly into the RPI top 50 to No. 45.

With its resume to this point, Ole Miss is in both the regional host and national seed discussion. Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers assessed the Rebels' national seed chances in his weekly college chat on Monday.

I think it'll be very close this weekend. I think there also are some other teams moving into that mix, too. For instance, Oregon State is almost guaranteed to be a national seed this week, and Indiana is up to 2 overall in the RPI with a solid resume. The big thing for Ole Miss right now is its only 5-7 vs. RPI Top 25 and 15-11 vs. RPI Top 100, but to me, that all gets trumped by having a solid SEC record. With that said, the Rebels are still behind South Carolina and Florida in the pecking order, and I'm not so sure the SEC is going to get three national seeds just yet. Ole Miss is head to head with LSU, IMO, for a third national seed. Right now, LSU has the head to head, but OM leads pretty much every other metric, especially in non-conference play and SOS.

Here's a brief look at the NCAA Tournament resume and remaining schedule for Ole Miss, as well as the NCAA Tournament resumes for Florida, LSU and South Carolina.

Ole Miss Rebels

33-12 Overall | 13-8 SEC (t-2nd)

RPI: 4

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 15

Record against RPI top 25: 5-7

Record against RPI top 50: 13-9

Record against RPI top 100: 15-11

Road Record: 12-6

Florida Gators

30-15 Overall | 15-6 SEC (1st)

RPI: 3

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 1

Record against RPI top 25: 10-5

Record against RPI top 50: 15-8

Record against RPI top 100: 21-11

Road Record: 7-7

LSU Tigers

33-11 Overall | 12-8-1 SEC (4th)

RPI: 15

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 40

Record against RPI top 25: 3-7

Record against RPI top 50: 8-8

Record against RPI top 100: 13-9

Road Record: 6-7

South Carolina Gamecocks

34-11 Overall | 12-9 SEC (5th)

RPI: 6

Strength of Schedule (Warren Nolan): 20

Record against RPI top 25: 6-6

Record against RPI top 50: 14-7

Record against RPI top 100: 17-9

Road Record: 5-6

Remaining Schedule For Ole Miss:

April 30 vs. Southern Miss (RPI No. 67)

May 2-4 vs. Arkansas (59)

May 9-11 vs. Georgia (62)

May 13 at Arkansas State (60)

May 15-17 at Texas A&M (38)

VIDEO: Ole Miss-LSU Highlights

Sam Smith posted his eighth straight quality start, but it was not enough, as LSU shut out Ole Miss 2-0 Saturday afternoon to take the three-game series. It was the first time that the Rebels had been shutout since a 4-0 loss to Memphis on April 15 last season, and the six hits were the second-lowest output of the season.

"They came straight at us, attacking us," Will Allen said. "Early on, we hit a lot good balls, but they just weren't finding holes. That's baseball. They're a good team and they have good arms, but we're a better offense than that. We have to execute better than that. We know that. We're more talented than that. We have done our jobs for the majority of the whole, but today was not our day. We didn't really come out and get after it like we always have been and striking first."

"It was just a bad day offensively, which is not like us," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I really felt like this weekend wasn't like us. Unfortunately today, it was one of those bad offensive days that happens in baseball over 56 games. We just really couldn't mount anything. We had a few base hits here or there, but we really didn't threaten at all."

Smith, a native of Lake Charles, La., pitched into the eighth inning and left with a 2-0 deficit after he allowed a solo home run to Conner Hale to lead off the inning, which snapped a streak of 10 straight retired batters for him. 

He allowed two runs -- both earned -- on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in a career-long 7.1 innings. With the loss, Ole Miss is 5-3 during his streak of eight straight quality starts.

"It's so disappointing for him individually," Bianco said. "I know he just wants to win. It's not about his win or loss; it's about our success. What can you say? Every third game, he gives you great effort. He really didn't have his stuff today. 

"I don't know if he touched 90 (mph). If he did, it was just a few pitches in the 90s, where usually he's all over 90-93, but he hung in there. It wasn't his best day stuff-wise, but it was one of his gutsier performances. He gave us every opportunity, but we couldn't do anything offensively."

LSU's starting pitcher, Alden Cartwright, retired the first nine Ole Miss batters in order and left with a 1-0 lead after four innings. For the game, Ole Miss leadoff hitters were 0-for-9, and the Rebels were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

Ole Miss threatened in the fourth with back-to-back one-out singles by Auston Bousfield and Austin Anderson, but Will Allen grounded into an inning-ending double play. 

"It was up and in, and honestly I shouldn't have swung at it," said Allen of his at-bat in the fourth. "That was my fault. That was really an inning that we could have put together and score some runs and put some pressure on them."

Sikes Orvis hit a two-out double in the seventh, but Ole Miss could not get him home, and then in the ninth, trailing 2-0, the Rebels got the would-be game-winning run to the plate after a single by Anderson and two-walk by Orvis, but LSU's Kurt McCune got a groundout to close out the 2-0 win.

"It is frustrating but it's baseball," Allen said. "It's happened to us before and we have overcome it to win some ball games. It's happened to other teams. It's going to happen to every team. There's not really much you can do about it. You have to keep your head up and keep swinging."

"We lacked that punch," Bianco said. "We lacked that on Thursday night, where we have always been so good when the game is on the line. We just couldn't manage stuff, and that's going to happen. It happens at times in our game. We couldn't manage to put an inning together, we couldn't make the pitch at the right time, and we couldn't make the play to get off the field in a couple of innings. That's not us. You look at the weekend, even yesterday, we played better, but certainly not the way we have played at home until this point."


VIDEO: Ole Miss-LSU Highlights

LSU looked to have gotten out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but right fielder Mark Laird dropped a fly ball in foul territory that would have been the final out and send the game to the fifth down just one run. 

Later in the at-bat, Auston Bousfield took advantage of extra life and knocked a 2-RBI single back up the middle to push the Ole Miss lead to 4-1, as the Rebels went on to even the series with a 5-1 win Friday night at Swayze Field.

"I was kind of kicking myself as the ball is in the air," Bousfield said. "Laird is a great outfielder. He made that great catch against Sikes (Orvis) last night that might have sealed the game for them. When he dropped it, I breathed a sigh of relief, and I had to lock back in and try to make it hurt and make them pay. I was able to get a pitch to hit, and I drove it up the middle and got a hit."

Bousfield later added a solo shot in the seventh, his fourth home run of the season, as he went 4-for-4 with three RBI, which tied his career high for hits. 

"Boz had a terrific night with the four hits, none bigger than the bases-loaded, two-strike hit, where it looked like we were going to squander an opportunity there for a second," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We tried to be a little too aggressive and tried a couple of push bunts, a couple of safety squeezes, that didn't work out. We don't execute, but then he gets the big two-out hit, and that's what it's all about."

Bousfield extended his hit streak to 10 games, hitting at a .404 clip during the stretch, and has multiple hits in five of his last seven games dating back to a 2-for-4 game on April 8 against Memphis. 

He also moved into the team lead with a .349 batting average and 86 total bases and continues to lead the team with 60 hits, which also leads the SEC. His 86 total bases is second only behind Kentucky's A.J. Reed who has 104 for the season.

"I was struggling a couple of weeks ago," Bousfield said. "I wasn't getting a lot of hits, but I feel like I was hitting balls hard but just hitting a lot of balls at people. I'm getting good swings off, and they're starting to fall a little bit more."

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 30-10 overall and 10-7 in league play, ahead of tomorrow's rubber game at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.

"It evens the series, and tomorrow if we can come out and play our game, we still have a chance to take the series against a really good LSU team, so it's always big to win this game," Bousfield said.


 

For eight innings, Chris Ellis dueled Aaron Nola, the Southeastern Conference's leader in strikeouts (84) and earned run average (0.70) to a draw, as he left with the game with the score tied at 2-2.

It was the eighth time in 10 starts that Ellis allowed one earned run or less for the eighth time in 10 starts, as he lowered his earned run average from 1.81 to 1.72. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts, stranding nine runners on the base paths.

In the other dugout, Nola allowed two runs -- all earned -- on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts, as he threw a season-high 121 pitches in 7.2 innings of work. He has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his 10 starts this season.

"Both guys pitched terrific," head coach Mike Bianco said. "For Chris, it might have been his best outing of the year. Certainly, he pitched deep and did a great job with pressure-packed pitches. One of the ways that you beat Nola is you don't let them score. You keep the score low, so if you do scratch across a run or two, that will put you ahead or tie it up and get him out of the game. Certainly, Chris was terrific tonight."

The bullpens traded zeroes with the exception of the 11th, where each team scratched across a run and then the 13th, where LSU strung together a one-out double, followed by a walk, and then a fielding error to score what would be the game-winning run, the second unearned run allowed by Ole Miss during the game. 

"We had opportunities," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We have been on the right side of it several times. Today, it just didn't happen. We didn't get the big hit, we didn't make the big pitch, and we didn't make the play in the field."

"It's baseball," said Sikes Orvis, who went 2-for-5 with a solo home run. "We came out and played tough. We did everything we needed to do. I take that ground ball hit to Errol (Robinson) 9 times out of 10 that you roll it up. Baseball is a funny game. You get kicked in the teeth a lot playing it, but we'll bounce back tomorrow and be alright."

SEC MBB Teleconference 1.13

Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from LSU head coach Johnny Jones and South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. The Rebels host the Tigers on Wednesday night (8 p.m., CSS) and then travel to Columbia, S.C. to play the Gamecocks on Saturday (3:30 p.m., FSN).

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement: 

It's week two of the SEC grind, and we're looking forward to having the opportunity to come back home Wednesday against a very good LSU team.

On playing younger players more, particularly in the frontcourt:

We're still evaluating that. I have not been as pleased with our production as we need to be as a frontline unit. In the second half, we got production out of a number of our young guys, namely Dwight Coleby, who's just not getting back into form after an early leg injury that set him behind. Anthony Perez helped us some at the four. We have played Anthony in a number of different positions in his two years here. We have played him some on the wing. We felt like his ability at the four position gives us more versatility, not only offensively, but he was very active with six rebounds as well. It will be something we continue to experiment with.

On Jarvis Summers' improvement in the mid-range game:

Jarvis has unquestionably been our MVP to this point in the season. He has evolved into a junior in our program. First and foremost, having been in the program for three years, physically he's stronger he has ever been, which enables him to make the plays both physically, and from an experience standpoint, having gone through the battles that he has endured, we're starting to see him play like the all-league player that he's capable of being. Percentage-wise, he's taking better shots. He's stronger, so that he can finish through contact. And he really worked in the offseason at knocking down open looks. When he plays with Marshall, one thing that we missed in our first two SEC games was the spacing that Marshall creates while he's on the floor, not only as our leading scorer at about 19 points per game and shooting close to 40 percent from 3, which are pretty effective numbers, but the spacing that he creates because of his presence and his ability to stretch the defense. Jarvis has done a good job of playing in those gaps.

On Jarvis Summers' role with Marshall Henderson returning to the mix:

We play Jarvis in a number of different spots. When Marshall is not here, he plays predominantly off the ball and Derrick Millinghaus' numbers go up tremendous en lieu of Marshall's absence. With Marshall back, we will continue to play Jarvis off the ball at times when Derrick is in the game, but he will go back more of a lead-guard mentality when he's with Marshall, setting the floor for our team, running our team, and continuing to be aggressive offensively. We have played three games without Marshall, and we have played 12 with Marshall, so he will be able to come back pretty seamlessly and fit right back into what we were doing prior to his absence.

On LSU's Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey:

They are really, really talented, maybe as talented a frontline as there is in our league, with those two combined with Johnny O'Bryant, who's probably the best back-to-basket scorer in our league. It's a tremendous challenge. We have to be very physical and keep our bodies on them. We can't come into this game thinking that we're just going to out-jump them or out-reach them. They're all long and athletic. We have to be very physical at the point of attack. We call it first blood. We have to try to get to the ball first because of their tremendous athleticism, and they are very versatile. When you play those three guys together, with Martin playing the three, it's a long, athletic frontline, so we know they're going to pose a number of difference challenges for us.

On missing out on Cleveland, Miss., native Johnny O'Bryant in recruiting:

We spent a lot of time and energy recruiting Johnny. He's just up the road from us. We knew he was going to be a tremendous talent, and nothing that he has done at LSU has been surprising to me. He was going to come in and have a chance to make an immediate impact, which he did as a freshman. As he evolved into his sophomore season, he was an all-league-caliber player as we anticipated, and now he's one of the best frontcourt guys in all of college basketball. I'm proud to see him develop. He's a good kid from a good family. I certainly wish he was wearing the red, white and blue on Wednesday.

On balancing shots in the backcourt between Derrick Millinghaus, Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson:

You take what the game gives you. Sometimes we want to try to predetermine who's going to do what when and where. Basketball doesn't work like that. You have to put yourself into position, you always have to be ready, and you have to take the game gives you. Derrick, for instance, makes three of his first four field goals in Starkville on Saturday and was in a very good rhythm, and as a result, we took an early lead. Those same shots appeared late in the game, and we weren't able to knock them down, and that ultimately is the difference between winning and losing. He finishes the game 5-for-17 from the floor after starting 3-for-4. He wasn't as efficient at the end as we would have hoped.

On the impact of Marshall Henderson:

I challenge the guys every day that the fire needs to burn internally. If they're waiting for me to motivate them every day, then we are all missing the boat. The advantage with Marshall returning on Wednesday is first and foremost his ability to put the ball in the basket. Secondly, it's his ability to be the focal point of LSU's scouting report. I guarantee there will be a lot of Marshall Henderson conversation, and when you don't have him, then the focus shifts to others. Sometimes guys are second or third options for a reason. There are a lot of people who want to be Batman, but they need to be Robin, and we need to get Batman back, so then we can play off the spacing that Marshall creates, and he will be back with us on Wednesday, and I'm sure he will be excited to start SEC play his senior year.

LSU head coach Johnny Jones

Opening statement:

We're looking forward to great challenges this week, one there at Ole Miss, and we're excited about having the opportunity to be back at home against a team that's playing very well in Vanderbilt on Saturday. Obviously, with Henderson returning, it presents a great challenge for us, the great player that he is, and we look forward to that challenge there at Ole Miss Wednesday night.

On preparing for Ole Miss without seeing Marshall Henderson the last two games:

It's tough preparation because it's hard to simulate what he's capable of doing out there on the floor. He's really quick at catching-and-shooting and rising up and making difficult shots and making plays. You have to go back and probably know that he's going to be screened for, and you have to prepare for getting off screens and try to make sure that you're there on the catch with him. It's one of those games that you know you're going to be in a battle all night long, and you're hopeful -- knowing that he's going to score -- that you can contest and contain him most of the night.

On Johnny O'Bryant and his maturation:

Johnny has made some really positive strides for us. He really finished the year strong last year for us. He had a tremendous summer. Johnny is a part of everyone's scouting report now, and a lot times for the teams that we're playing, their defense has been designed to try and take Johnny away for us, and when that has happened, he has made the right decisions, in terms of making extra passes and plays. When he has had the ability to be in one-on-one situations there in the post, he's played well and shot a high percentage for us. It's just a matter of getting that balance for him. He's been terrific for us.

On added motivation for Johnny O'Bryant going home and playing against Ole Miss:

It's a normal reaction for most young men because you have an opportunity to have family and friends, most of the time, there in attendance. You're playing one of the state schools where you have grown up and you want to make sure that you have a great showing there. It's no different, I'm sure, from a lot of pro athletes who feel that same way. You have some added weight, but we try to make sure that they concentrate and focus, in terms of playing in between those lines once we throw that ball up. It's not where you're playing but how you're executing and the impact that you're able to make for your team.

On the Ole Miss frontcourt and its development:

They are really good and able to play off of those guards. Their guards are extremely quick and play really well. Their post guys have an opportunity to benefit because of the help that you have to try to give to the other perimeter guys; you allow those guys to get free, and they have done an excellent job of getting to the offensive glass and making plays around the rim.

On moving Jarell Martin to the bench this past weekend at South Carolina and the flexibility that gives the LSU frontcourt: 

The beauty of our basketball team, and it's early on in conference play, is the versatility of our team. We have about eight or nine guys who we have been playing consistent minutes, and we have to make sure -- whether it's scouting report-oriented or the opponent that we are playing -- that we have the best group out there that we feel like can get us off to the best start in those games. Jarrell has the ability to play inside and out, which is certainly a great benefit for us. We have the ability to move him around.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin

Opening statement:

It's another great week in the SEC. We go to Texas A&M midweek, and then we host Ole Miss. At Texas A&M, Billy Kennedy is continuing to build that program and they are off to a great start with two great wins out of the shoot. And Ole Miss is a defending NCAA Tournament team and conference tournament winner. They will have Marshall Henderson back after not having him for the first couple of games.

On optimism after Saturday's 71-68 loss to LSU:

We played a really good LSU team. Look at what that team has accomplished up to this point. They lost at UMass, a top-20 team in the country, at the buzzer. They lost to Memphis, a top-20 team in the country, in an absolute dogfight. They got beat at home by Tennessee, which a top-20 team in the country, and unfortunately they lost a tough game to Rhode Island, which it happens to everybody. We went nose to nose with a really good basketball team. We just didn't do enough to win, but that should not take away from some of the really good things we did to give ourselves a chance to win.

On dealing with Marshall Henderson as an X Factor:

As the opposing coach, he's an unbelievable player. He averages 19 points per game. If you're half a step late, or half a second late, it's a 3 and a basket. He's an unbelievable competitor. I don't think anyone gives him the credit that he deserves for the competitor he is. He elevates the players around him because of his competitiveness. I have a lot of respect for what Marshall Henderson does as a player.

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