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Five Southeastern Conference teams enter Wednesday action with 7-7 league records, creating a five-way tie for fourth place in the standings, which takes on added importance because of the fourth and final double-eye to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

Ole Miss is among those five teams, as it enters the final four games of the regular season starting with Alabama Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Rebels enter Wednesday's matchup, having lost four straight games since a 91-88 win over Missouri on Feb. 8.

"We need to try to find a way to stop the bleeding," said head coach Andy Kennedy on Monday's SEC teleconference."

The four-game skid started with a 67-64 loss at Alabama on a last-second 3-pointer by the Crimson Tide's Trevor Releford. It continued with a 61-60 loss at Georgia and then back-to-back home losses to top-20 teams in No. 18 Kentucky (84-70) and No. 2 Florida (75-71). 

"It's easy to look back and live in the world of would have, could have, should have," Kennedy said. "You can see the finish line. You have two weeks left in the regular season leading to Atlanta. We know we have five more games. How we play in those five games will determine what happens next. 

"My hope is that we're just anxious to play again because it's been two weeks since we have won a game. It's not a good feeling. I want our guys to share that sentiment and look forward to having the next opportunity."

In the first meeting, Releford scored 16 of his team's final 20 points and finished with a game-high 26 points. Releford leads the team and ranks fifth in the league averaging 19.0 points per game. He also leads the team and ranks among the six players in the league in field goal percentage (50.8%), free throw percentage (88.6%) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.4%).

"He's a first team all-league player," Kennedy said. "They have their ups and downs, as we have all had. If a few games had gone the other way in Alabama's favor, he would be in the conversation for most valuable player in the league simply because of what he means to their team. 

"He's had a terrific career. He's been very steady and very consistent, and he's really improved, which is a credit to Anthony (Grant) and his staff. He was a guy who's always been very good with the ball, fast in the open floor, but his ability to develop perimeter shooting and his ability to make perimeter shots has really made him a difficult cover."

Alabama is 11-16 on the season and 5-9 in the SEC, having played the nation's third-toughest schedule (ESPN.com). Away from home, the Crimson Tide is 0-12, including 0-7 in the SEC. After a 63-48 loss at Texas A&M Thursday night, Alabama rebounded with an 80-73 over Missouri at home Saturday.

"It's been a rough year for us, in terms of some of the tough losses that we have had, in nonconference and conference play," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. Our guys have had to battle. Some games we have performed well and come up short, one or two possessions. Other games we have not performed well and not been as close." 

When asked about the win over Missouri starting a wave of momentum, Grant said that each game has a life of its own, and Wednesday's rematch with Ole Miss is no different.

"That one game, certainly, was a great character win," he said. "Now, we have to be able to learn the lessons from that, good and bad, and move forward and understand that we're going to get a completely different look when we go on the road here for Ole Miss."

SEC MBB Teleconference 2.24

Highlights of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Alabama head coach Anthony Grant and Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy. The Rebels host Alabama on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN3) and then travel to Texas A&M on Saturday (6 p.m., Fox Sports Net).

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement:

There are two weeks remaining in the regular season. There is a logjam at 7-7 with a number of different teams. It's an important week for us, as we have one at home and one on the road. We need to try to find a way to stop the bleeding.

On seeing a seven-way tie for anything, anywhere:

I have never seen it. Last year, we were in a situation where we able to win our last two regular season games to tie for second and we got the 3-seed and a double bye in the tournament. It all really was dependent on three or four different teams and playing that last day. Florida has separated itself at the top, but everything else is still up for grabs as it relates to how teams play down the stretch. 

On the importance of the double bye:

We were a beneficiary of that last year. We got the double bye and we were able go and cut down the nets. It's really big if you have aspirations. We go into the tournament needing probably to get to the finals to give ourselves a chance for an at-large. Thankfully, we took it one step further. It plays a huge part of day three, when it was our second game, and it was Vanderbilt's third game. We were playing them in the semifinals. It certainly took a toll on Vandy's legs, and it was an advantage to us. Getting the double bye is a huge advantage. A team that's in that position will be going to be going to Atlanta with aspirations of getting into the field. These last two weeks hold a lot of importance.

On the difficulty of taking each game as it presents itself and not look back:

It's easy to look back and live in the world of would have, could have, should have. You can see the finish line. You have two weeks left in the regular season leading to Atlanta. We know we have five more games. How we play in those five games will determine what happens next. My hope is that we're just anxious to play again because it's been two weeks since we have won a game. It's not a good feeling. I want our guys to share that sentiment and look forward to having the next opportunity.

On Trevor Releford:

He's a first team all-league player. They have their ups and downs, as we have all had. If a few games had gone the other way in Alabama's favor, he would be in the conversation for most valuable player in the league simply because of what he means to their team. He's had a terrific career. He's been very steady and very consistent, and he's really improved, which is a credit to Anthony (Grant) and his staff. He was a guy who's always been very good with the ball, fast in the open floor, but his ability to develop perimeter shooting and his ability to make perimeter shots has really made him a difficult cover.

Alabama head coach Anthony Grant

Opening statement:

We have the second game we have played this year against Ole Miss, this one on the road. They were a very talented team the first time we played them. We're looking forward to the opportunity to try to go to Ole Miss and get a win. And then we come back and play a rivalry game with Auburn here at home. We had a tough loss at their place earlier in the year. It's a big week for us, and I'm looking forward to getting prepare for these two games.

On Levi Randolph:

It was a good win for us against Missouri. Levi was a big part of that. I'm really happy for him that he was able to come out and have that type of performance. I'm happy for our team to be able to get the win. At the end of the day, the most important thing for Levi is for the team to win, and for him to be a big part of that is a very positive thing for him as we move forward in the season.

On Nick Jacobs' status and how Jimmie Taylor has stepped up with the extra minutes:

There is no update with Nick's status. Jimmie, the two games this past week, played 35 minutes at A&M and played 25-26 the other night against Missouri. He's a guy who's developing as a freshman with the experience that he is getting going against some of the elite guy in our league, in terms of frontcourt guys. He's done a really job for us on the defensive end, learning how to rebound the ball in traffic against the size and physicality in the SEC. He's still developing and still continues to need to develop from an offensive standpoint. The more experience he gets, the more comfortable he gets in terms of what he's able to do and understand where he needs to grow. As an 18-year-old freshman in this league he has a very bright future.

On the "character" victory over Missouri:

It's been a rough year for us, in terms of some of the tough losses that we have had, in nonconference and conference play. Our guys have had to battle. Some games we have performed well and come up short, one or two possessions. Other games we have not performed well and not been as close. A lot of times when you see teams going through some of the struggles that we go through, you begin to worry in terms of how they feel in terms of the work that they're putting in and the results they're getting. I called it a character win because our guys have approached practice the right way, in terms of preparing for every game and approach their preparation and putting themselves in position to win. It was a tough loss on the road at Texas A&M on Thursday night. Weather caused us to spend the night in Texas. We came back about 3 o'clock. On the way from the airport to campus, the bus broke down, and the guys had to wait to get another bus to bring them to campus. We had an evening practice in preparation for Missouri the next day. They did a great job of being able to lock in. Coming off a loss like that and to respond the way they did in less than 24 hours, it showed great character by our guys.

On the Missouri win starting a wave of momentum?

Each game has a life of its own. I have been doing this long enough where you understand as a coach that every game presents different challenges. That one game, certainly, was a great character win. Now, we have to be able to learn the lessons from that, good and bad, and move forward and understand that we're going to get a completely different look when we go on the road here for Ole Miss.

Texas A&M head Billy Kennedy

On the seven-way tie for fourth place in the SEC standings and importance of upcoming games:

That's definitely a lot of times team tied. I'm sure there's not another league in the country with that situation. In general, there is parity in college basketball. You have some heavyweight teams in each league. You look at the ACC, you look at the Big Ten, you look at the Pac-12, you look at the Big 12, and we follow the Big 12, having been in it, and you have teams with losing record that were once top-10 teams. It's college basketball. It's just not our league. Our league gets beat up, but it's not any different from any other league. A lot needs to be said about college basketball in general that there are about four to six heavyweight teams, and then it's the rest of us. It's kind of what college basketball is all over the map.

On the importance of the double bye:

It would be tremendous for all these teams that are 7-7 because there's not a big difference, and most of us have depth problems. We're not very deep. We have most of our teams back. It would be interesting to see how many seniors are on those 7-7 teams and how many teams will have guys back. To have some momentum going into the end of the season and hopefully some type of postseason play, and to have all those guys coming back for next year is something to build on.

Three takeaways from Ole Miss' 67-64 loss at Alabama on Tuesday night:

1. Trevor Releford, Alabama Make Plays

Trevor Releford, Alabama's leading scorer and the Southeastern Conference's seventh-leading scorer, scored 16 of his team's final 20 points to lift the Crimson Tide to a 67-64 win over Ole Miss on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa. 

Releford finished with a game-high 26 points, his ninth 20-point game, and none were bigger than his last-second, game-winning 3-pointer after Ole Miss tied the game at 64-64 with 13 seconds left.

"We felt like, at the end, that if we settled back into a zone, we all knew that the ball was going to go through Trevor Releford," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He really carried them down the stretch which is what a senior, all-league player does, and he made a big shot."

Before Releford's late-game heroics, Ole Miss used an 11-0 run to take a 51-47 lead with 9:13 left in the game. Alabama answered with an 11-5 run to regain a 58-56 lead with 3:34 left, behind nine points by Releford. Ole Miss tied the game at 64-64 with two free throws by Jarvis Summers, but the Rebels did not lead again after that run by Alabama.

"I thought it was a huge sequence in the game when we were up four and we made a couple of poor decisions in the open floor," said Kennedy of the Rebels' lead late in the game. "We got an offensive rebound and threw it to them - a live ball turnover - which led to a basket that tied the game.

"We go from having the ball to them shooting a layup to tie the game. We then go to Anthony Perez on the block for an and-one and he doesn't finish the layup and goes 1-2 from the foul line.  The very next play, Trevor Releford gashes us as he goes through our four men and gets an and-one. They get the lead, although we tied it at the end, and it seemed like they had the momentum from that point forward."

2. Henderson, Summers Held In Check

Marshall Henderson (19.6 points per game) and Summers (17.4 ppg), the Rebels' two leading scorers, were held to a combined 23 points. Not including the games Henderson missed due to suspension, it was their lowest combined point total since Nov. 29 against Georgia Tech, and their third-lowest combined point total of the season.

It was just the third time Summers did not finish in double figures this season, and the fourth time overall that either Summers or Henderson were held to single-figure scoring. As a team, Ole Miss was held more than 13 points below its scoring average (77.5), and it was just the sixth time this season the Rebels were held under 70 points.

3. Alabama Wins Battle In The Paint

The Crimson Tide outscored the Rebels 34-18 in the paint, led by the duo of Nick Jacobs and Shannon Hale. Jacobs (8.3 ppg) and Hale (7.3 ppg) each more than doubled their scoring averages, as Jacobs was second on the team with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while Hale was third with 15 points, including 8-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line.

Ole Miss was outrebounded for the 15th time this season, as Alabama won the rebounding battle, 42-34, including 14-10 on the offensive glass. Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz, who each grabbed double-digit rebounds in Saturday's win over Missouri, combined for just six rebounds.

What It All Means

Rebels Face Tough Test On The Road

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Through 70 Southeastern Conference games, home teams are 50-20 with a winning percentage of 71.4 percent. Ole Miss is one of six teams in the SEC with multiple league road wins, having won at South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss (16-7, 7-3 SEC) seeks to double its league road win total with back-to-back road games this week, starting with Alabama on Tuesday night (8 p.m., ESPNU), followed by another road battle at Georgia on Saturday.

"We have embraced the grind," said senior guard Marshall Henderson after the Rebels' 91-88 win over Missouri Saturday, the team's best RPI win to date. "We know every game is going down to the wire, no matter who we play. We just have to fight through and get the win."

Alabama is 9-14 on the season and 3-7 in the SEC after dropping a pair of road games last week at Arkansas and at No. 3 Florida. The Crimson Tide are winless on the road this season, but 9-4 at home. Senior Trevor Releford leads Alabama averaging 18.3 points per game, which is seventh in the SEC in scoring.

The Crimson Tide has the nation's No. 2 overall strength of schedule and No. 9-ranked nonconference schedule, with nine games against teams ranked in the top 50 of the latest RPI (ESPN.com).

"Every game on the road is going to be tough," said Henderson on Saturday. "I watched Alabama and Florida play earlier today, and they played Florida tough. Florida is unstoppable in that building, and they played them tough all the way there until the very end. Alabama is definitely a lot better than their record shows, that's for sure. They have one of the toughest schedules in the whole country." 

Ole Miss shoots better from the field (.453 at home/.390 on road) and from 3-point range (.419 at home/.316 on road) at home and rebound the ball better with a -5.6 rebound margin on the road and an even rebounding margin at home.

The Rebels will lean on its veteran backcourt of Henderson (19.6 ppg) and Jarvis Summers (17.4 ppg), the team's two leading scorers, who rank third and eighth in the SEC in scoring, respectively. 

"Marshall draws a lot of attention, both on and off the court," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "The attention that he draws on the floor, Jarvis has done a much better job in year two of playing with him, of playing in those gaps that are created by the way people try to defend Henderson, and as a result, he's had a very productive year for us."

Ole Miss enters the week ranked No. 51 in the latest RPI, while Alabama (No. 110) and Georgia (No. 113) are rated just outside the top 100. 

The Rebels are 4-6 against top-100 RPI teams this season, highlighted by the win over Missouri. After this week, however, they have back-to-back opportunities with two top-10 RPI teams in Kentucky (No. 10) and Florida (No. 5) coming to the Tad Smith Coliseum.

"If we play like we did tonight, as far as being focused and high energy, it will give us a chance at those places," Henderson said. "We also know that if we get those two, we have probably the biggest week in Ole Miss basketball history with Kentucky and Florida coming in here back-to-back. We have to get these two, starting with the one in Tuscaloosa. We have to get them."

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