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Opportunity Awaits Rebels At Rupp

With Saturday's 75-71, comeback win over South Carolina, Ole Miss is 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference and tied for second in the league standings with Kentucky entering Tuesday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Rebels have also played themselves into the NCAA Tournament conversation as one of the first five teams out, according to the latest USA Today bracket released Monday.

Ole Miss enters Tuesday's game rated No. 56 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index (ESPN.com), while the Wildcats are rated No. 13, the highest rated opponent to date and the second-highest opponent on the schedule. The Rebels are 4-5 against top-100 RPI teams this season with wins over LSU, Vanderbilt, Penn State and Middle Tennessee.

"We have opportunities on the horizon, and we don't pay a lot of attention to the projections in the first week in February," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "There is so much basketball left to be played, and we certainly lived that last year. We were dead numerous times, and our guys continued to grind and fight. Anytime you're in a league such as the SEC, you're going to have quality opportunities. We have two this week, and my focus is just on getting our kids ready for the challenges."

Ole Miss had a similar opportunity last Wednesday at Tennessee, but they fell behind 13-4 by the first media timeout in an 86-70 loss. Tennessee held a decisive edge in rebounding (45-27), points in the paint (36-24) and second-chance points (19-4), and Kentucky presents similar problems with all five projected starters listed at 6-foot-6 or taller.

"I hope we can take the (right) approach that we have go in there with so we don't get the same result where we get behind 13-4 and then have to battle the five future pros, the hall of fame coach and the 23,000," said Kennedy of comparing Kentucky to Tennessee. "I hope we don't get behind early. It's a different team. Tennessee is veteran-laden, more physical, below the rim. These guys are high-flyers."

Kentucky is 80-2 at Rupp Arena under John Calipari, including 13-0 this season. The Wildcats hold a 100-13 lead in the all-time series, including a 26-1 mark at Rupp Arena, with the Rebels' lone win there coming Feb. 14, 1998.

The Wildcats lead the league in field goal percentage (47.4 percent), rebounding (41.8 rpg) and rank second in scoring (80.0 ppg). They also lead the league in rebounding margin (+10.1 rpg) and offensive rebounding percentage (42.8 percent). Freshman forward Julius Randle leads the team, averaging a double-double with 16.1 points per game and a league-leading 10.1 rebounds per game.

"They're extremely long and athletic," Kennedy said. "We better make a bunch of shots because it's going to be hard to get rebounds. That's what they do. They are young, but they have been very good at Rupp, and that's where we have to go Tuesday."

Related Links:

Ole Miss seeking quality wins, starting with Kentucky, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger

Marshall-mania hits Rupp Arena for Kentucky game, writes Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herlad-Leader

A three-spot from UK's Ole Miss preview, writes John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader

Ole Miss senior Marshall Henderson is all grown up, writes Andy Katz of ESPN.com

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    Joe Snaidauf said:

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

    in post Eleven Rebels Garner Phil Steele Preseason Honors

    Jamie laverty said:

    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!!

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Gary Vaughn said:

    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
    Has brought back the excitement
    Competitiveness we all so desire. The
    fan base and even our doubters are
    Paying attention. Even the whole country
    Sport tLk shows ect. Are taking notice.
    After we upset Alabama this weekend
    38-27 we will bolt to a top 12 or better
    Ranking. Go Rebels

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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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    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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    JT said:

    Tiger fan here (LSU) b we now have 3 in the SEC. You guys looked great last year. You looked coached, and the players were up for every game. Good to see you back in the hunt.

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