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Journey Ends for Five Seniors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A four-year starter at point guard, one of the most accomplished players in program history, senior Jarvis Summers saw his Ole Miss career come to an end, as did four of his fellow seniors in LaDarius White, Aaron Jones, M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith.

They helped the Rebels to a 21-13 record and the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and the fifth NCAA Tournament win in program history. Summers, White and Jones are members of a select group, becoming just the seventh senior class to make at least two trips to the Big Dance.

For Rhett and Smith, graduate transfers from Tennessee State and UT Martin, respectively, they experienced the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time, realizing the goal that they set out to accomplish when they began their respective careers at Ole Miss.

"I hate it for Jarvis," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He's had a tremendous career for us. He's been a leader, he's been steady. He's had a tough year all year shooting the basketball, and I guess it's somewhat fitting that he would end with his struggles offensively. 

"Without Jarvis and without Snoop and without A.J. and without M.J. and without Terence, the five seniors who the journey ends tonight, you know, we're not here. We're not in the NCAA and we're certainly not in the position that we were to have the chance to advance. I'm proud of those guys and what they were able to accomplish."

Summers finishes his career as just the fourth player in SEC history with 1,600 career points and 500 assists. He is also one of only nine players in Ole Miss history with 80 career wins, serving as a mainstay at the point guard position since the early part of his freshman season.

To the end, despite his performance in his final college game, Summers showed true leadership, putting the team before himself, as he has throughout his decorated career.

"It's really frustrating," Summers said. "All this year, I have been struggling, and I couldn't get things going, but I'm not a person who makes excuses. If it's on me, it's on me, and all I can do is move forward."

Ole Miss has gone through a two-day turn twice, as well as a one-day turn when the Rebels played No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in back-to-back days at the Emerald Coast Classic, but they haven't gone through a turn quite like the whirlwind, as head coach Andy Kennedy described it, this week.

The Rebels closed out a 94-90 win over BYU, a game that ended around 11 p.m. local time Tuesday in Dayton. The team walked out of UD Arena around 12:30 a.m., flew to Jacksonville and then arrived at their hotel around 4:30 a.m., before starting preparations for sixth-seeded Xavier that included a shootaround Wednesday evening at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

"Well, for us, it's just about making sure that our guys are physically rested, not only the demands of the travel with such an emotional game, and we had to expend so much energy in order to come back," Kennedy said.

"So we want to make sure our guys are rested physically because we know the challenge Xavier is going to present, rugged, not going to give you anything easy, a little bit different flow than what we faced last night. And we want to give them as much information as possible without bogging us down. We're going to be who we are; Xavier is going to be who they are. We've got to do a good job of imposing our will on the game like we were fortunate enough to do the second half last night."

There are advantages and disadvantages to Ole Miss having played an additional First Four game on Tuesday, while Xavier hasn't played in nearly a week, a 69-52 loss to Villanova in the Big East championship game on March 14.

"The disadvantage that we have per our opponent is obviously what we just described, the physical demands of what it's taken to get here," Kennedy said. "The advantage that we have is we have a win in this tournament. We just scored 62 points in a half. We just overcame a 17-point deficit, which is the biggest since 2007 in this tournament. We've got a lot of guys feeling pretty good about themselves."

The Rebels carry a lot of momentum into Thursday, particularly on the offensive end, having shot 60 percent from the field in the second half to finish the game at 45 percent in the win over BYU. Six Rebels scored in double figures, including all three members of their big three in Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White.

Moody led the way with an Ole Miss NCAA record 26 points, including 15 in the second half. Summers posted his second career double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, compared to just one turnover. M.J. Rhett added a career-high 20 points, including 14 after halftime.

"Well, it's definitely not emotionally draining," Rhett said. "We're just going to roll off of how we played in the second half. Being that we can come back from a 17-point deficit, if we can just fix our first half performances and play better in the first half and keep our second half, because we're a second half team for the most part. So if we could just hold down our first half and come back in the second half and do what we do, we'll be fine."

Photo Gallery

March Madness reigned in Dayton, as 11th-seeded Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. 

The nation watched, and they reacted to largest second-half comeback since 2007. Here are some Ole Miss-BYU related links to local and national videos and stories, as well as a Tweet roundup:

VIDEO: First Four: Ole Miss stuns BYU via NCAA.com

VIDEO: Ole Miss Rebels' Kennedy, Moody on win over BYU via CBSSports.com

Ole Miss rallies from 17 down to beat BYU in superb First Four game, writes Matt Norlander from CBSSports.com

Ole Miss proves they belong in Big Dance, writes Austin Ward from ESPN.com

Ole Miss's epic comeback over BYU proves drama lives even in the First Four, writes David Gardner from Sports Illustrated

Ole Miss rallies from 17 down in second half to end BYU's season, writes Kyle Ringo from Yahoo! Sports

Ole Miss mounts comeback to down BYU in NCAA Tournament, writes Riley Blevins from The Clarion-Ledger

From brink of humiliation to sweet win, writes Hugh Kellenberger from The Clarion-Ledger

Rebels rally from huge deficit to advance, writes Parrish Alford from The Daily Journal

Rebels roar back to advance, writes Neal McCready from Rebel Grove/Rivals.com

Kennedy's credit, writes Ben Garrett from The Ole Miss Spirit/Scout.com

No Quit, writes Ben Garrett from The Ole Miss Spirit/Scout.com

Photo Gallery

Talking to members of the local media Sunday before leaving for Dayton on Monday, head coach Andy Kennedy and senior guard Jarvis Summers spoke of a familiarity with BYU, their First Four opponent, from watching the Cougars' 73-60 win at Gonzaga in their regular-season finale for both teams and their 91-75 loss to the same Bulldogs in the West Coast Conference Finals.

After a day of travel and preparation, Kennedy and his players went more in-depth on what to expect from BYU, which had won eight games in a row before that most recent loss to Gonzaga. The Cougars boast the nation's second-leading scoring offense at 83.6 points per game, led by senior guard Tyler Haws, the nation's third-leading scorer and the program's all-time leading scorer.

"It's more than him," said Kennedy of Haws to members of the media in Dayton. "He's awfully good. But it's more than him. Their style of play is such that they're going to put pressure on you really with four guys on the perimeter all night. Their pace of play is unlike any we've seen this season. They're truly committed to playing fast."

The next-highest scoring team that Ole Miss has faced this season has been Arkansas, which ranks 15th nationally averaging 78.0 points per game. 

However, when asked if BYU reminded them of any they had played, Kennedy and his players all said Vanderbilt, a team that shot 54.4 percent from the field and 13-for-23 from 3-point range in an 86-77 win over the Rebels in the regular-season finale for both teams in Oxford.

"We've used that comparison because we told them, like Vandy, if you leave them open, they're not like your teammates," Kennedy said. "They're going to make it. So in practice sometimes when we leave them open and the guys miss, we think it's good defense. No, it's not good defense; it's a bad shooter. When you play Vandy, and they're open, they're going to make it. 

"If you leave BYU open, they're going to make it. That's been proven over the course of 30-some odd games. We've got to be really locked-in understanding personnel."

As a team, BYU shoots 46.7 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from 3-point range, both of which are comparable to Vanderbilt, which shoots 47.1 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from 3-point range. 

The Cougars have four different players, including Haws, who have made 44 or more 3-point field goals and has shot 35 percent or better from behind the arc. Junior guard Chase Fischer leads the group in both 3-point field goals made (97) and 3-point field goal percentage (.411).

"We just have to work harder on running teams like that off the 3-point line," junior guard Stefan Moody said. "Just general mistakes that we made that we have to correct this time."

"We just have to man up and play defense hard and communicate and basically just be aggressive and make them score over the top of us," added Summers. "And like he said, just run them off at the 3-point line."

The men's basketball received a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. The women's basketball team learns its fate Monday. The football team was off for spring break, while the spring sports are in the middle of league action. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- As you know by now, Ole Miss was selected as a No. 11 seed and will play BYU, and should they win, they would play No. 6 seed Xavier in the Round of 64 on Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida. The other pairing in the four-team pod is No. 3 seed Baylor and No. 14 seed Georgia State.

- But in case you missed it, here's a Vine of the team's reaction after seeing they made the tournament (via TJ Werre)

- As Michael Thompson noted on Twitter, with an NCAA Tournament appearance in men's basketball, Ole Miss is the only school to have been to the College World Series, a New Year's Six bowl game and the NCAA Tournament in the last 10 months.

- Head coach Andy Kennedy, who had already accounted for half of the program's 20-win season, now accounts for one-fourth of the program's NCAA Tournament appearances.

- Ole Miss was the fourth-to-last team in the Field of 68, but despite their safeness relative to other teams closer to the cut line, they needed some help, and they got it throughout the conference tournament season, whether it was fellow bubble teams that lost or just one true "bid thief" that emerged.

"I have a dog, and when you clap your hands or raise your voice, the dog crazy, so needless to say, the dog was going crazy a lot on Saturday," said Kennedy of scoreboard-watching this past week.

- Historically, No. 11 seeds and First Four teams have made runs in the NCAA Tournament, none more memorable than Shaka Smart's 2011 Virginia Commonwealth team that reached the Final Four. Ole Miss has showed its capable of such a run, whether it was three top 50 RPI wins away from home, winning six games in a row or playing No. 1 overall seed and undefeated Kentucky to the wire, also away from home. I wrote more about the Rebels' capabilities and their opportunity here.

- Ole Miss is one of five SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament, the fifth-most among all conferences and the most for the conference since 2011, when the league also had five teams in the field. That relative strength of the SEC likely played an important role in getting the Rebels into the field.

- From the truth is stranger than fiction category: As a player, assistant coach and head coach for Valparaiso, Bryce Drew has participated in five NCAA Tournaments. Ole Miss has participated in four of those same five NCAA Tournaments, including the 2013 and 2015 editions.

- On first look, here are a couple of things that stand out about BYU. The Cougars rank second in the nation in scoring, averaging 83.6 points per game, the best among teams in the NCAA Tournament. BYU senior guard Tyler Haws, the school's all-time leading scorer, besting Jimmer Fredette, averages 21.9 points per game, third in the nation and second among players in the NCAA Tournament.

- Also noteworthy: In BYU's first and only other appearance in the First Four in Dayton, the Cougars completed the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Iona 78-72 after trailing by 25 points in the game.

- Facing a pair of tough road series this past week, the baseball team split its midweek series at No. 8 Louisville and won one of three at No. 1 LSU over the weekend. The Rebels showed flashes of what they could be this season in the 5-3 win over the Tigers in 14 innings on Saturday night, in the SEC Network primetime slot.

- #FearTheStache was trending on Twitter at one point Saturday, as Sikes Orvis went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI, the game-tying run in the ninth and the go-ahead in the 14th, later scoring an insurance run in the same half-inning. He also snagged a line drive for a game-saving double play in the 10th.

- It doesn't get any easier for Ole Miss, as the Rebels host No. 3 Florida in their first SEC home series of the season after a midweek home contest against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday. The first half of the SEC slate also includes a road series at No. 16 Arkansas and a home series against No. 5 Vanderbilt.

- The women's basketball team is expected to earn a berth in the Women's National Invitational, and if selected to host, the Rebels would play a first-round game on Thursday night. The announcement of the entire WNIT will come late on Monday night. It would be their first postseason appearance since 2009-10.

- Three Ole Miss athletes earned All-American honors at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, highlighted by Jalen Miller's bronze-medal finish in the men's 60 meters. Phillip Young (men's triple jump) and Brooke Feldmeier (women's 800 meters) joined Miller in earning All-American honors.

- The men's tennis team split its matches this past week, dropping a 4-1 decision to No. 2 Baylor and picking up a 4-1 win over Arkansas, improving to 2-1 in SEC play. Looking ahead, the Rebels play five matches in 10 days, including a home match against No. 18 Florida and a road match at No. 9 Texas A&M.

- The women's tennis team also split its matches this past week, moving to 3-3 in SEC with a loss to Alabama and a win over Auburn. Senior Julia Jones also moved one step closer to history, picking up her 95th career win.

Rebels Land NCAA Bid, 'New Life'

It took three days of scoreboard-watching and the reveal of the first 66 teams in the field on Selection Sunday, but for the second time in three years, Ole Miss is dancing.

The fourth-to-last team in the field, based on the NCAA Tournament seed list, the Rebels were selected as a No. 11 seed in the West Regional and will play fellow No. 11 seed BYU on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. Should they win, they would play No. 6 seed Xavier in the Round of 64 on Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida.

"We certainly took a circuitous route to get where we wanted to be, and it was certainly not one that I would have chosen, but ultimately we arrived at our destination," head coach Andy Kennedy said.

"I was surprised to see our name pop up there," senior guard Jarvis Summers said. "I felt like we could have had a better season, but we're thankful and blessed it worked out for us. We have to make something of it now." 

To that point, talking to long-time assistant coach Bill Armstrong, Kennedy said he was not sure there has ever been a team with an NCAA Tournament quite like theirs, having won 20 games in the regular season but having lost seven home games.

"Sometimes it's not so much what you do; it's what the people that you're competing against do," Kennedy said. "I feel like we have had teams that have had equally as strong resumes, but maybe the field was a little stronger, and we got pushed out. 

"This year, we certainly did not close as strongly as I would have hoped, but they talk about looking at your collective body of work. Oregon, having that late run, most especially getting to the conference tournament finals, helped us. The year that Cincinnati had helped us. Winning 11 games away from home helped us."

Teams that have been selected as a No. 11 seed have had some success in the NCAA Tournament, as have teams that have played in the NCAA First Four. Most notably, Virginia Commonwealth reached the Final Four as a No. 11 seed that played in the First Four in 2011. 

Last year, Dayton made a run to the Elite Eight as a No. 11 seed, while fellow No. 11 seed Tennessee, which also played in the First Four, won three games in a row to get to the Sweet 16. 

Two years ago, No. 13 seed La Salle also advanced to the Sweet 16, defeating Ole Miss in the Round of 32.

Ole Miss, Kennedy believes, has shown itself capable of making a run, and it's because of the body of work that was enough to get the Rebels into the Field of 68.

"We have had a formula by which we have shown ourselves to be very capable," Kennedy said. "We have won at Oregon, the only team other than Arizona to have done so. We have won and convincingly at Arkansas. Those are two good basketball teams. We played Kentucky to the wire. We have shown we're certainly capable. We have to stick to that formula."

A big part of that formula? Shooting at a 40 percent rate or higher, and it start with the big three of Stefan Moody, Summers and LaDarius White. The Rebels are 18-4 when they 40 percent or higher from the field, with one of those four losses coming at Dayton in UD Arena, where they will play BYU on Tuesday night.

"Moody has to make shots on Tuesday night," Kennedy said. "Jarvis has to make shots on Tuesday night. Snoop has to make shots on Tuesday night. Collectively, we have to finish around the rim on Tuesday. We have to rebound the ball. We are who we are, just like everybody in the tournament at this point. I'm happy for these guys that they stayed the course."

Ole Miss will learn its postseason fate later today, as the Field of 68 will be unveiled on the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Selection Show at 5 p.m. CT on CBS. 

Since a heartbreaking loss to South Carolina in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday, the Rebels have been relegated to scoreboard-watching, and for the most part, things have gone well.

Many fellow bubble teams lost and failed to lock up spots in the field, while only one true "bid thief," Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference, emerged, shrinking the bubble by just one spot. 

One more true "bid thief" remains, however, and it's defending national champion Connecticut, playing on its secondary home floor in Hartford against regular-season champion SMU in the American Athletic Conference tournament final at 2:15 p.m. CT on ESPN.

When bracketologists adjusted their brackets after the win by Wyoming, which burst the bubble of one of the last four teams in, Ole Miss remained among the last four teams in the field in ESPN's Joe Lunardi's, CBS Sports' Jerry Palm's and Syracuse.com's Patrick Stevens's latest brackets, while USA Today's Shelby Mast dropped them from the field.

"Wyoming winning the MWC steals a bid from someone... and that someone for me is Ole Miss," wrote Mast in his latest bracket projection. "I was torn between them, BYU and Boise St. it's very close but I think what the difference is for me - Boise St. is regular season champ for MWC and BYU won at Gonzaga. It's close for sure and I'm not comfortable with my decision, but, that's life on the bubble."

One possibility, as ESPN's John Gasaway notes, is the final spot in the field may come down to Indiana and Ole Miss, who have emerged as a "distinct class that has no other members." 

He looks at The Bracket Matrix, which compares 100 different projections of the NCAA Tournament field, and Indiana appears in 85 percent of brackets and Ole Miss appears in 80 percent of brackets, which would position the Rebels as the first team out of the field. The next-highest team is BYU, which appears in 90 percent of brackets, and the next-lowest team is UCLA, which appears in 19 percent of brackets.

The Bracket Matrix also measures how closely each bracketologist matched the work of the selection committee. The site itself correctly picked 67 of the 68 teams correctly last season, as did Lunardi, Mast and Palm, while Stevens correctly picked all 68 teams last season.

Selection Sunday sometimes features a surprise inclusion, and last year it was North Carolina State, which appeared in just three of 121 bracket projections collected by The Bracket Matrix. ESPN's Andy Katz suggested a possible candidate in his 3-point shot, where he made three bold predictions for Selection Sunday.

"In terms of the bubble, I'm going with the Miami Hurricanes getting in, and Ole Miss out," Katz said. "One of the things the selection committee will certainly look at will be your best win. Ole Miss has a win at Arkansas, certainly a good win. Miami won at Duke, a much better win. Miami comes in a little bit hotter than Ole Miss, which really struggled down the stretch. Certainly the way they lost that South Carolina game, it was a disheartening loss for Ole Miss, but that may be the reason they're on the outside looking in."

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ole Miss returns to Nashville, the site of its 2013 SEC Tournament title, in much the similar position, perhaps in a more favorable position as it relates to an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Despite the loss to Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale, Ole Miss remains a team projected in the field, as a No. 10 seed in ESPN's Joe Lunardi's bracket, and as one of the last four teams in the field in CBS Sports' Jerry Palm's and USA Today's Shelby Mast's brackets.

At this time of year, it's easy to get caught up in all the numbers and bracket projections, but head coach Andy Kennedy and his team are focused on what they can control, which is their opponent-to-be in Thursday night's second-round game against No. 11 seed South Carolina.

"We have a veteran group," Kennedy said. "They have been through these conversations many times. My hope is that they will just focus on what the thing they can control and that's playing well Thursday night. We have a lot of good memories in this building, so hopefully we can conjure some of those back."

Seniors Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White played key roles on the 2012-13 team that made a run to the SEC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament bid. 

Summers was the starting point guard, only to have his SEC Tournament run cut short due to a concussion he suffered in the quarterfinal against Missouri. When Summers went down, White stepped into the point guard role, starting both the semifinal against Vanderbilt and the final against Florida.

"We're really just taking it one game at a time," Summers said. "We don't really focused on the bubble or the tournament at all. We still have to play the SEC tournament. For me, I'm just trying to maximize the games and enjoy it while I can."

"I haven't been reading anything about the first four out or the last four in," White said. "My concern hasn't been on that. We're just taking it one game at a time."

Ole Miss has not only has its run in 2013 to draw from entering this year's tournament, but it also has its success away from Tad Smith Coliseum earlier this season. The Rebels have three RPI top 50 wins -- No. 22 Arkansas, No. 29 Oregon and No. 34 Cincinnati -- and they all came away from Tad Smith Coliseum

Their 11 wins away from home are the most since that same 2012-13 season, when they picked up 12 wins away from home, including three wins at the SEC Tournament. 

"We're very confident away from home," White said. "Very confident. That's where we play our best ball, I think. It's weird. I mean, I don't know. I can't explain that."

One possible explanation? They shoot the ball better away from Tad Smith Coliseum.

Ole Miss averages 75.1 points per game and shoots 46.5 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from 3-point range in road and neutral-site games, compared to 71.2 points per game, 39.8 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent 3-point shooting in home games.

"Maybe you do put more pressure on yourself at home," Kennedy said. "I think they'll come in here and play loose and free. I just hope we can make some shots."

With the Rebels' 82-74 win at Alabama on Tuesday night, Ole Miss has posted 20 wins for the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons before Kennedy's arrival.

Also, with the win over Alabama, Ole Miss positioned itself to earn the No. 3 seed in the Southeastern Conference tournament with a win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. But the Rebels could also finish fourth, fifth or sixth with a loss, depending on other outcomes in the league.

The No. 3 seed would not only mean a double-bye into the quarterfinals, but it would also place Ole Miss on the opposite side of the bracket from top seed and undefeated Kentucky.

"It was a huge game," said senior guard LaDarius White after the win over Alabama. "It was important and we needed this game."

As far as the NCAA Tournament, the win over Alabama kept Ole Miss around the No. 9 and No. 10 seed lines, depending on the bracket projection, and according to ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan, the win also locked up an NCAA Tournament bid.

"Either way, both teams are straddling the No. 8/9 seed lines at this late date," said Brennan of Georgia and Ole Miss in his latest Bubble Watch. "For either to miss the tournament, they'd have to drop two straight this weekend and next, and somehow have the dozen-or-so teams between them and the cut line pass them in the next nine days. Not going to happen."

That being said, the Rebels, now No. 44 in the latest NCAA RPI, can eliminate any doubt about their NCAA Tournament hopes and perhaps play their way up a seed line or two, between now and Selection Sunday, starting with a win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. 

There's not much reward playing the Commodores, ranked No. 102 in the RPI, but they have won four in a row and seven of their last nine games, dating back to the start of February.

"We get one more win, we have a secure seed in the NCAA tournament," sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz said. "That was the goal this season -- to get to the NCAA tournament and do well in it." 

Senior Send-Off for Five Rebels

Ole Miss will also honor its five seniors, three fourth-year seniors in Aaron Jones, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White and two graduate seniors in M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith.

Jones, Summers and White have been a part of three of Kennedy's six 20-win seasons, including Summers who is the SEC active leader in points (1,587), assists (507), minutes (3,762) and wins (83). 

"It's Senior Night, so it's got to be the most important game for those guys who are leaving Ole Miss," Saiz said. "I expect them to come out with a lot of energy and show everybody they have been thankful for their time at Ole Miss."

Summers and White showed signs of a return to form in the win over Alabama, while Jones provided a spark with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting, to go along with five rebounds, in 21 minutes off the bench.

Summers showed the decision-making that made him an All-SEC type player, dishing out seven assists compared to zero turnovers 32 minutes of action, while White exploded for 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. For White, it was his first double-digit scoring game since scoring 16 points in a win over Florida on Feb. 12.

"Snoop has struggled in the last two or three weeks," said Kennedy of White. "He has not shot the ball well. For him to go seven-of-nine, four-for-five from three, huge, huge effort for him. My hope is that it will give him the confidence that he needs to finish this thing strong."

The numbers and bracket projections may not be in his favor at this point, but head women's basketball coach Matt Insell is selling the NCAA Tournament selection committee on his team passing the eye test, as Ole Miss enters its regular-season finale on the road at intrastate rival Mississippi State.

Ole Miss has won three in a row for the second time in Southeastern Conference play this season, highlighted by a win over No. 13 Kentucky this past Monday, but the Rebels have only seen a moderate bump in their RPI, up to No. 96 in the latest rankings released by the NCAA.

In the latest bracket projection from ESPN's Charlie Creme, released on Monday, not including Thursday's SEC games, the league had seven teams in the field, with Georgia as one of the "Next Four Out" and Ole Miss not among the teams considered.

"We're sitting here at 17-11 and 7-8 (in SEC play), and I'm looking at these bracketology things, and this is an NCAA Tournament team," Insell said. "The problem here is our RPI is not very high. I hope the selection committee, as they look at it, they will watch the eye test of Ole Miss. 

"You look at Arkansas and Ole Miss, and the bracketologists say Arkansas is in as a 10-seed, and we beat them beat them by 14 points at our place in the head-to-head contest, and we're going to end up with basically the same record."

Ole Miss enter Sunday's matchup at Mississippi State, ranked No. 27 in the RPI, with a 5-11 record against the RPI Top 100, including a 2-7 mark against the RPI top 50, with wins over Kentucky (No. 12) and Arkansas (No. 45).

One of the marks against the Rebels' resume, along with their RPI, however, is their nonconference schedule. The slate included three RPI top 100 opponents, two in the RPI top 58, but it also included nine RPI sub-200 opponents. They won all nine of those games, but playing the games themselves work against their overall resume.

"I have never seen an 8-8 team not get in, but what they'll come back and say our RPI and our out-of-conference schedule wasn't the greatest," Insell said. "We had a young team with eight newcomers. If we would have gone out and played one of the best schedules in the country, we wouldn't be sitting here because we would have killed their confidence before we even got going."

With a win at Mississippi State, Ole Miss would not only add a resume win, a win that would be the Rebels' best road win of the season, but it would also lock them into the No. 7 seed at next week's SEC Tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they might still need to pick up a win, maybe two, to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

"We need to get to 8-8 and we need to win one in the SEC Tournament," Insell said. "If we do that, I think there's no chance we're not in. If we slip up and don't do that, you put in the committee's hands. This team is fighting to get in the tournament."

Kennedy, Rebels Look to Flush LSU Loss

BATON ROUGE, La. -- With an opportunity to perhaps lock itself into the NCAA Tournament, or at the very least enhance its resume, Ole Miss lost back-to-back games for the first time all season, falling on the road at LSU on Saturday afternoon after dropping a home contest against Georgia on Wednesday night.

The Rebels used a 12-0 run to take a 26-15 lead with 5:57 left in the first half. The Tigers cut the lead to 27-23 going into halftime and opened the second half on a 13-2 run to take a 36-29 lead with 15:14 left. 

Ole Miss got to within four on three separate occasions, but they were unable to string enough plays together on both ends of the court to get any closer the rest of the way in a 73-63 loss in Baton Rouge.

"We knew coming in, from a length and talent standpoint, that if this game was pretty, it was not going to be good for the Rebels," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We needed to make it ugly and dirty it up. In the first half, we did a good job of that, keeping them off-balance and not letting them for us with second-chance points, but the margin shouldn't have been four. We should have been up eight, nine, 10, 11, but we didn't close the half very well."

"In the second half, when you have opportunities on the road, you better take advantage of them. We didn't; they did."

Stefan Moody led the Rebels with 15 points, but he was just 3-for-17 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Along with Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White, the Ole Miss big three combined for just 25 points on 7-for-29 shooting.

"We have been in a lot of close games," Kennedy said. "Tonight notwithstanding, we have been very competitive in almost every game, a possession here or possession there, and it's really been the timeliness of Stefan Moody. It's not as if Jarvis and Snoop don't have their moments, but we have struggled in a number of regards with manufacturing offense."

Entering Saturday, Ole Miss was 17-3 in games in which it shot 40 percent of better from the field, with the only losses coming to Dayton, Kentucky and Georgia, all road games, and three games decided by a combined 12 points.

The Rebels did not reach that benchmark, as they shot 38.3 percent from the field, including 4-for-14 from 3-point range, and 13-for-21 from the free throw line, and they committed 17 turnovers, their most in a game since committing 18 in a road win at Arkansas on Jan. 17.

"Why is that?," said Kennedy, referring to the benchmark. "It's because we make free throws at a high rate and we don't turn it over. Today, we shoot under 40 percent, we didn't make three throws, and we turned it over."

Ole Miss, now 19-10 overall and 10-6 entered Saturday as the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament and a No. 8 or No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and with the loss to LSU, they fall to the No. 6 seed in the SEC Tournament and will likely see a fall in their seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The last two losses, notwithstanding, Ole Miss remains 8-7 against the RPI top 100, including a 3-5 mark against the RPI top 50, with wins over No. 20 Arkansas, No. 31 Texas A&M and No. 39 Oregon. 

When the new bracket projections come out, the Rebels will likely see their name in the field, although closer to the close line, going into their final two regular-season games on the road at Alabama on Tuesday and then back home against Vanderbilt next Saturday. 

"They're disappointed," Kennedy said. "It's the first time all year we have lost games in a row. They're disappointed. It took me a little bit longer (in the locker room) because now I'm playing psychologist, and the reality is we didn't play well today. We lost against a good LSU team. We have to flush it. We have a Tuesday swing and we have to get ready and close strong in Week 9 (of SEC play)."

QUOTABLE: "You have to be honest, but at the same time, there's not going to be a drill we can do tomorrow to change some of the things we do. We are who we are. Guys who are struggling know they're struggling. I'm a big believer in owning it. Let's own it and let's try to figure out how to fix it. I have played this game and I have coached this game now for number of years. You fix it by seeing the ball go in the basket. You don't allow the negative to weight you down. Your self-talk has to positive. It's easier said than done, when things aren't going well, and you have to man up and close strong. That's what we're going to do." - Andy Kennedy

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:

VIDEO: The Pavilion Time Lapse

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.


- 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. 


- 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).


- 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.

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."

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    Hunter Comstock said:

    Boy, I surely hope the Rebels don't have anymore nail biters like the Bama game. My nerves won't take it.

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    Rebs stay healthy, they can win it all!!!

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    Bulmer I love you and ole Miss

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    Rhonda said:

    Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!

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    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
    Has brought back the excitement
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    Sport tLk shows ect. Are taking notice.
    After we upset Alabama this weekend
    38-27 we will bolt to a top 12 or better
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    Tom said:

    I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.

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    How can I get my hands on one of these?

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    Dave Darnell said:

    Gray pants with red and blue stripes on the legs have served Ole Miss football my entire life time. The blue on blue, red on red and white on white are hideous and UGLY! Leave the pants alone.

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    Ole Miss '68

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