OLE MISS

Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for the start of their seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Selection Sunday is more than a month away, but in a battle of teams on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Ole Miss men's basketball team downed Florida 72-71 on Saturday. Going into the matchup, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi tweeted, "The loser here is pretty much toast from an NCAA tournament perspective." 

- Through six SEC games, Ole Miss is 3-3, having played six of the top eight teams from the league, according to KenPom.com. The Rebels, themselves, are the third-highest rated team (No. 34). Looking ahead, return trips at home against Arkansas and Georgia and a road game LSU loom large for the team's NCAA Tournament chances.

"It's good for our confidence," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the win. "We're not as confident of a group as I would have hoped despite some of our early wins that show we are a good basketball team. You have to be able to stack wins at this time of the year. It was obviously a vital game for us."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers proved clutch for the Rebels, scoring each of the team's last four points, the first two on a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line and the last two on a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left after driving into the lane.

"Coach (Kennedy) always tells me to go right," Summers said. "That's my strength. I just listened to him this game and tried to make a play." 

- In a similar situation, tied 77-77 on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, Summers settled for a contested 3-pointer, which was off the mark, and the Wildcats went on to win 89-86 in overtime. That was not the case Saturday against Florida.

"I beat myself up after that game," Summers said. "I just had to move forward. I told myself if I ever got in that situation again, I was going to keep going to the hole and be aggressive." 

- Here's a good read on Stefan Moody from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger. Check it out.

- Playing its third straight opponent ranked opponent, Ole Miss came up just short, falling to Mississippi State 64-62 on a last-second shot on Thursday night. Ole Miss went 1-2 over the three-game stretch, knocking off Georgia and losing to Texas A&M and Mississippi State by a combined 11 points. The Rebels are 14-6 overall, 4-3 in SEC play, likely needing to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration.

- The result was not what head coach Matt Insell and the team wanted, but a lively crowd of 3,383 provided one of the better, if not the best, atmospheres I have experienced in five-plus years around the women's basketball program. Insell has tirelessly promoted his program, including going door-to-door on Fraternity Row the night before the Mississippi State game, and it showed Thursday.

"First, I want to thank Rebel Nation," Insell said. "What a great crowd that was. I think Oxford, Mississippi and Rebel Nation just really showed up for us tonight. They showed us how much they cared about this basketball game. The crowd was into the game the entire time. I just want to thank everyone that came."

- A lot has been written and said about The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Here's an infographic comparing it to Tad Smith Coliseum. Notice the concessions in the bottom right corner that includes the addition of Raising Cane's to the menu.

- The Ole Miss baseball team held its first spring practice on Friday and its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Here's a pretty thorough preview from Kendall Rogers on the Rebels, which are ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings. Don't forget, Ole Miss opens the 2015 season with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting Friday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m C.T.

- The lowest-ranked team in its four-team regional in Gainesville, Florida, the Ole Miss men's tennis team notched two big wins over No. 13 Florida and No. 29 South Carolina. The Rebels rallied from down 3-0 to defeat the Gators 4-3 and closed out the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Gamecocks to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16.

- The men's tennis team was bolstered by the return of senior Nik Scholtz, a three-time All-American and the reigning SEC Player of the Year. Unranked because he did not play in the fall, Scholtz defeated the 34th-ranked and 71st-ranked players this past weekend. For more on Scholtz and his decision to return to Ole Miss for his senior season, click here.

- Former Ole Miss players Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson showed out at the Senior Bowl this week. They impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Next up is the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 17-23). For more on their week at the Senior Bowl, click here and here.

- Another former Rebel, the New England Patriots' Brandon Bolden, will be playing in the Super Bowl next Sunday (5:30 p.m. CT, NBC). I caught up with Bolden earlier this week, so look for more on him in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

- In case you missed it, with the start of classes, the Ole Miss football has been updated to reflect six mid-year additions, including freshman offensive lineman Javon Patterson, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection from Pearl, Mississippi. Looking ahead, National Signing Day (Feb. 4) is a week and a half away, so stay tuned.

- In case you missed it, part two, the Ole Miss football video department released a couple of videos over the weekend: "Home is Ole Miss" and "The Journey: Chapter 3."

Former Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt capped an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, with a game-high five tackles in the game itself Saturday. His former teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson sat out the game with a hamstring injury.

As of the latest prospect rankings from CBS Sports on Wednesday, Prewitt is the No. 54 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 1 free safety and a projected second round pick, while Golson is the No. 68 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 8 cornerback, and a projected second-to-third round pick.

Prewitt is on the fringe on first-round status, garnering a top-50 ranking on big boards according to Rob Rang from NFLDraftScout.com and Joel Klatt from Fox Sports.

The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine will be held from Feb. 17-23, and the NFL Network will provide extensive coverage of the event. The 2015 NFL Draft will be held from April 30-May 2.

Cody Prewitt has raised his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, writes Ross Jones from Fox Sports

Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt's stock is on the rise.

Prewitt followed up his interception in Tuesday's practice by showing great instincts and closing speed on Wednesday. He blew up an oncoming reverse, and Jaguars coaches ran onto the field to congratulate him.  

Prewitt, who says he patterns his game after that of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, is the No. 45 overall player on FOX Sports 1 NFL insider Joel Klatt's big board and has the potential to creep into the first round.

"I like to think I pick up on things really well, and it allows me to play really fast," Prewitt said after practice. "I take a lot of pride in my football IQ."

To add even more intrigue, the 6-foot-2, 212-pounder is at the Senior Bowl with his Ole Miss teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson.

Golson, who once turned down a $1.35 million signing bonus from the Boston Red Sox to instead play college football, has finally dedicated himself to the gridiron despite Ole Miss spring baseball gearing up.

"I'm really proud of him. He has come a long way, and honestly we have come a long way together," Prewitt said. "And to be sharing this experience together has been a real blessing for us."

Golson, of course, led the SEC with 10 interceptions and made a major impact for Ole Miss' defense this past season.

The duo is coming off a banner year, leading the Rebels to their first season finishing ranked since 2009. 

Here's more on Prewitt from Klatt:

Prewitt displays a quality understanding of the game as he is rarely out of position against complicated route combinations. I was most impressed with his ability to adapt to the new game by avoiding big hits and penalties when he sees exposed receivers.

Here's more from on Prewitt from Tony PaulineNFL Draft Analyst for DraftInsider.net:

Prewitt came to Mobile and ended the notion that he's a run-defending safety who struggles in coverage. Today, he made several nice plays on passes including an interception in the end zone as well as a break-up in the middle of the field. Prewitt's solid play in coverage the past few days will enhance his draft stock.

Senquez Golson has met with the Cleveland Browns, writes Matt Miller, NFL Draft Lead Writer for Bleacher Report

The Cleveland Browns were very interested in Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson, and I've spoken with sources close to both sides who say they've spent a lot of time with him this week.

Cody Prewitt tackles new ideas, writes Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal

Senquez Golson is determined to measure up for NFL, writes Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal

Cody Prewitt stands out in the South secondary at the Senior Bowl, writes Patrick Magee from the Sun Herald

Senquez Golson sat out the Senior Bowl due to a hamstring injury, writes Patrick Magee from the Sun Herald



VIDEO: Home is Ole Miss

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Ole Miss closes out a three-game stretch in which they will have faced three consecutive ranked opponents when they welcome No. 18 Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Rebels are 1-1 through the first two games of the stretch, having defeated No. 18 Georgia and lost to No. 11 Texas A&M.

Short-term, the goal is to get to 2-1 over the three-game stretch. Long-term, the goal is eight Southeastern Conference wins, which would position Ole Miss (14-5, 4-2 SEC) well for a possible NCAA Tournament bid.

"It's a huge opportunity for us to continue to build a resume for the NCAA Tournament," head coach Matt Insell said. "How you build that resume is you beat top-20 teams, and we have a chance to beat another one here on our home court. That would be a huge win for us, a huge win our program and a huge win for where we want to go at the end of this year.

As it stands right now, Ole Miss boasts RPI Top 50 wins over Georgia (No. 35) and Arkansas (No. 49) and has another opportunity in Mississippi State (19-2, 4-2 SEC), which is ranked No. 41 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. The Rebels were among the "Next Four Out" in Charlie Creme's latest ESPN Bracketology, which was released Monday.

"They know each game is important," said Insell of his team. "This game is very important because it's a resume-building game for our team in terms of the NCAA Tournament. It's a game where you can put in on your resume that you beat another top-20 team and you did in the span of a week. This is a chance for them to build their resume to get to where they want to get."

Similar to when the schools met in football this past fall, it's been historic, and by some accounts, unexpected seasons for both women's basketball programs. Ole Miss, picked last in the SEC preseason coaches' pool, is off to its best overall start since the 2009-10 season, while Mississippi State, picked 8th in the same poll, is off to its best overall start in program history.

"When the season started, I don't think people thought Ole Miss and Mississippi State would be 4-2 in SEC play when they meet here in the third week in January," Insell said. "I don't think people thought we would be 14-5 and they would be 18-2. It's two teams that are trying to change the landscape of women's basketball in this state and let people know that there's really good women's basketball in the state of Mississippi. I'm happy that we're a part of that."

Ole Miss has already notched its first win over an AP-ranked team, the program's first since the 2010-11 season, and they played two more to within single-digits, both on the road, against No. 11 Kentucky and No. 11 Texas A&M, so there's no sneaking up on anyone, as the Rebels enter the heart of SEC play in contention for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2006-07 season.

"I told them that it gets even tougher now, and we have to know that," Insell said. "It's going to get tougher, so we have to step it up even more, and we have to continue doing that. There's no sneaking up on anyone. We're here. We're inside the house. People see us, and they know we're here. And now we have to learn how to play when we're here."

 Photo Gallery

Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. 

The duo have already had a busy week in Mobile, starting with the national football scouting weight-in on Tuesday morning. Golson came in at 5-foot-8.4 and 174 pounds, while Prewitt came in at 6-foot-2.1 and 211 pounds.

As of Wednesday, Prewitt is the No. 54 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 1 free safety and a projected second round pick, while Golson is the No. 68 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 8 cornerback, and a projected second-to-third round pick. 

Through the first two days of practice, they have impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Senior Bowl practices continue Thursday with a walk-through Friday before the game Saturday.

Senquez Golson was tabbed the standout from Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice by Matt Bowen, NFL National Lead Writer and former NFL Defensive backs. Here's more from Bowen:

Golson doesn't have top-tier size at the cornerback position (5'9", 180 lbs); however, the Ole Miss product displays quick footwork and the transition speed (plant/drive) to close on the ball. A player with the hip flexibility to open and run, Golson was physical from a press-man position and looked comfortable playing off the ball in one-on-ones and team drills.

With defensive backs, I always watch for players who want to compete in drills. Do they finish plays? Can they recover versus the deep ball? And do they attack downhill (with speed) to the upfield shoulder in the three-step game? On Monday, that was Golson. The cornerback was aggressive with his technique and challenged receivers on every rep during the South squad practice.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker will make Golson work hard this week, with a focus on technique. I played for Coach Walker back in Washington, and he is an excellent teacher. This is a great opportunity for the Ole Miss cornerback to continue playing good football in front of NFL scouts, general managers and coaches.

Matt Bowen had this to say about Cody Prewitt after Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice:

Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt displayed the range and ball skills to make plays from the middle of the field on Monday. And he will attack the ball in the vertical passing game.

Senquez Golson was one of nine standouts from Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice, writes Bucky Brooks, NFL Media analyst for NFL.com:

Golson lacks the ideal size to be a frontline starter as a pro, but DB coaches are quickly falling in love with the possibility of him filling a role as a nickel corner. The 5-10, 176-pounder displayed impressive footwork and short-area quickness in coverage, while also exhibiting outstanding instincts and awareness in coverage. He repeatedly made bang-bang plays on the ball in one-on-one and team drills, showcasing the playmaking skills that made him one of the top cover corners in the SEC. Although his slender frame could make him a liability against big-bodied receivers in the NFL, Golson's explosiveness and natural ball skills make him a hot commodity as a sub-defender.

James Walker, ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter, had this to say about Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt after Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice:

Keep an eye on Ole Miss cornerback Senquez Golson. He's undersized at 5-feet-10 and 175 pounds, but Golson played bigger than his size in the first day of practice. He made plays on the ball Tuesday that caught my eye. Golson looks comfortable playing man-to-man defense, which is a valuable commodity in the NFL. I'm curious to see him practice more throughout the week.

Speaking of Ole Miss, safety Cody Prewitt recorded the only interception in either practice Tuesday. Prewitt had an easy pick off Grayson, who floated the ball in coverage after being pressured. Prewitt also had a nice return of about 20 yards.

Ryan Mink, staff writer for BaltimoreRavens.com, had this to say about Senquez Golson after Day 1 of Senior Practice:

Ole Miss' Senquez Golson is the shortest player at the Senior Bowl, measuring in Tuesday morning at 5-foot-8 ½ inches and a mere 178 pounds. The SEC's 2014 interceptions leader showed he's not afraid to throw his body around, however, as he went high to whack a 6-foot-6, 281-pound tight end in 11-on-11 drills, causing an incompletion.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley had this to say about Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson (via Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal):

"We're trying to get him to understand that we're teaching him our principles" said Bradley of Prewitt. "He's done a good job. He's lively and spirited and has some energy out there in meetings and some stuff. Sometimes, he's down. Sometimes, he's back. It's really like understanding two positions because there's a lot of technique involved with that, and he's handled it really well."

"Every team is looking for different traits at the corner spot," said Bradley of Golson. "... You look at these players, and he's going to have a fit for a team. That's what you're looking for. He has great quickness and great competitiveness. Some teams get caught up more in height, weight and length. For some teams, it's not an issue, and it's more about transition, coverage ability and ability to stay on top. Each team has unique traits that they're looking for."

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker had this to say about Senquez Golson (via Patrick Ochs from the Sun Herald):

"You gotta play big," Walker said. "You can't make them taller. They have to be physical, be aggressive, play with urgency," he said. "Seeing details and having a high IQ helps because it helps them get to the play faster and compensate for their lack of size. ... There's a spot for little guys, they just have to play big."

Senquez Golson, a former eighth-round selection of the Boston Red Sox who turned down more than $1 million to attend Ole Miss, has officially decided not to play college baseball this spring, writes Patrick Ochs from the Sun Herald:

"It got to the point where I just need to focus on football," Golson said. "We tried to work it out to where I could try to play baseball, but I was just going to be missing too much time."

More on Golson's decision to not play college baseball this spring, writes Parrish Alford from the Daily Journal:

"I don't think I'm going to be able to play," Golson said. "I'm just missing too much time. I'm here all week. Then within the next two or three weeks we head to the combine. I've got training in between. There's just so much going on. I've been out of baseball a year. I just felt like I wasn't going to have the time to catch up."

Here's what Senior Bowl practice onlookers are saying about Prewitt:

Here's what Senior Bowl practice onlookers are saying about Golson:

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Jan. 13-19, 2015

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss thrashed No. 19 Arkansas 96-82 on Saturday. The Rebels picked up their first true road win over a ranked opponent since 2003 and scored the second-most points ever by an opponent in Bud Walton Arena.

- Ole Miss leads the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 79.6 percent of its attempts. The Rebels have hit 142 of their last 169 (.840) attempts from the line. Junior G Stefan Moody ranks third in the SEC and 22nd in the nation shooting 88.6 percent from the free throw line. 

- Sophomore C Dwight Coleby posted his first career double-double with a career-high 12 points and 10 boards against the Razorbacks.  

- Junior G Stefan Moody scored 18 points and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the Rebels' win at No. 19 Arkansas. Moody is averaging 18.3 ppg and shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range in SEC play. 

- Senior G Jarvis Summers dished out a season-high 7 assists in the win over the Razorbacks and passed Todd Abernethy and Jason Harrison for fourth in Ole Miss history with 432 career assist. Summers needs just 35 points to become only the 14th players in SEC history with 1,500 career points and 400 career assists.

Women's Basketball

- Ole Miss started the week with a win over Georgia that  snapped a 24-game losing streak to AP ranked foes, giving Ole Miss its first win over ranked foe since Jan. 23, 2011. It marked the first win over a ranked opponent at Tad Smith Coliseum since upsetting No. 12 LSU in Oxford during the 2009-10 season 

- Tia Faleru picked up her eighth double-double of the season and her 28th career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds against Texas A&M, her first double-double since having her streak of five consecutive snapped against Alabama on Jan. 11. 

- Erika Sisk posted her 10th game in double figures with a team-best 15 points against Texas A&M. Sisk also extended her double-digit scoring streak to four straight and five of the last six games, while  Shequila Joseph posted her third game of double figures with 10 points against Texas A&M and tied her season-high with six rebounds.

- Shandricka Sessom was back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games with concussion-like symptoms after getting injured at Florida (Jan. 8). She posted five points and five rebounds in her return. 

Men's Tennis

- Ole Miss opened the Toby Hansson era with a 6-1 win at UCF.

- Junior Stefan Lindmark played his first match at No. 1 singles and won in convincing fashion 6-1, 6-1 against a player who earned all-conference honors last year.

- Senior William Kallberg and freshman Gustav Hansson improved to 9-2 overall with a 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles.

Women's Tennis

- Ole Miss went 2-0 to start in the season, shutting out the University of Hawaii, 6-0, and downing Washington, 6-1.

- Senior Julia Jones went 3-0 on the weekend, winning both of her singles matches at No. 1 in straight sets and winning at No. 2 doubles against Washington. She improved to 12-3 on the year.

- Freshman Arianne Hartono also went 3-0 on the weekend with impressive straight-set wins in singles. She is now 11-4 on the year.

Rifle

- Rifle faced a pair of ranked opponents this past weekend, falling to No. 6 Kentucky, 4688-4580, and dropping a close one to No. 16 NC State, 4606-4602. 

- Against the Wildcats, freshman Jessica Haig equaled her career-best with a 588 in air rifle.

- Sophomore Sarah Emery shot a personal best 578 in air rifle against NC State.

The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams both made some history, while the men's and women's tennis teams started their spring seasons. National Signing Day (Feb. 4) and the start of baseball season (Feb. 13) are less than a month away and loom in the minds of many Rebel fans. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Coming off a home loss to LSU, where head coach Andy Kennedy questioned the team's energy and their top three scorers shot a combined 14-for-45 from the field, the men's basketball team bounced back with their biggest win of the season, winning on the road at No. 19 Arkansas. It's a huge win for Ole Miss, not only for the NCAA Tournament resume when March rolls around, but also for the team's psyche and confidence during this early part of SEC play.

"You come into this building and win by 14, it shows the potential of this team," said Kennedy on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network after the game.

- As it did for most of the game at No. 1 Kentucky, Ole Miss played like a team comfortable playing on the road, as the Rebels shot a season-high 56.4 percent from the field and committed just 11 turnovers against an Arkansas team that entered the game forcing 16.6 turnovers per game.

- The Big 3 of Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White all scored in double figures, which the Rebels need to be successful this season, but also credit the frontcourt players, who are playing with more and more confidence on the floor. Some numbers through four games of SEC play: Sebastian Saiz (8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds), Dwight Coleby (7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and M.J. Rhett (7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds). Led by that frontcourt trio, Ole Miss boasts a plus-2.8 rebounding margin in SEC play.

- A week after Aaron Jones earned top-play honors on Fox Sports Live, Martavious Newby and Stefan Moody combined for an alley-oop in the win over Arkansas that earned the No. 7 spot on Saturday's Top 10 plays.

- Some perspective: For Ole Miss, it was the program's first true road win over a ranked team under ninth-year head coach Andy Kennedy, the first since the 2002-03 season. Ole Miss has now won 10 of its last 12 against Arkansas, including five of its last six games in Fayetteville.

- The NCAA RPI will be released Monday, but Ole Miss moved up No. 46 in the RPI (per Warren Nolan), with two more big RPI opportunities this week: on the road at Georgia (No. 27) and at home against Florida (No. 70).

- The women's basketball team made some history of their own, knocking off No. 18 Georgia on Thursday night, the program's first win over an AP-ranked team since the 2010-11 season, snapping a 24-game losing streak to AP-ranked opponents.

"I'm really happy with our basketball team," head coach Matt Insell said. 'What a great win for our program and where we're going in the future with our program."

- An individual note: Senior Tia Faleru is the only player in the SEC averaging a double-double, as she leads the league in rebounding (10.6) and ranks second in scoring (15.9). Her three-point play started the 8-0 Ole Miss run to end the game against Georgia.

"When she told she was ready to go, she said to go to her every possession, and that's what you want your best player to do," said Insell of Faleru, whose 3-point play started the 8-0 run to end the game. "You want your best player to want the basketball. She wanted it, and she got a big and-one play for us that kept us going. I'm really proud of her."

- Playing its second straight ranked opponent, Ole Miss led No. 11 Texas A&M for 23:01 and as late as the 12:02 mark in the second half. An 11-0 Texas A&M run proved to be the difference, as the Aggies took a 42-41 lead with 11:01 left and led the rest of the way in a 58-49 win in College Station.

- The Rebels got some good news with the return of freshman Shandricka Sessom, who had missed the previous two games with concussion-like symptoms. With her return to the starting lineup, Gracie Frizzell came off the bench, having averaged 17.5 points per game and made a combined 11 3-pointers over her two starts against Alabama and Georgia. Frizzell came off the bench against Texas A&M, but it will be interesting to see if she returns to the starting lineup at some point this season.

- Ole Miss will play its third straight ranked opponent, hosting in-state rival No. 15 Mississippi State on Thursday night in a nationally-televised matchup on the SEC Network. The Bulldogs started the season 18-0, rising as high as No. 14 in the polls, before losing back-to-back games, and enter Thursday's matchup with a 19-2 record. The teams met twice last season, with both games going to overtime and the home team holding serve in each contest.

- Two blasts from the past: Here's an interview with SMU head coach Chad Morris, who talks to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman about Jevan Snead, whom Morris coached in high school in Texas. Here's a New York Times article on Jeremiah Masoli, who watched Oregon, his other former school, play in the national championship this past Monday.

- Speaking of the national championship, Ole Miss finished the 2014 season at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coaches Poll, its first final national ranking since 2009 and its highest final national ranking since 2008, when they finished No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the Coaches poll. Looking ahead to next season, here's a compilation of way-too-early preseason top 25 rankings for 2015.

- Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. According to CBS Sports, Prewitt is the No. 52 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 1 free safety, and a projected second round pick, while Golson is the No. 62 NFL Draft prospect, the No. 7 cornerback, and also a projected second round pick.

- The Ole Miss men's tennis team delivered Toby Hansson a 6-1 win over UCF in his first match as a head coach. Nik Scholtz, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, is expected to rejoin the team when classes start this week, ahead of the team's matches at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Gainesville, Florida, next weekend.

- New England running back Brandon Bolden will be the 23rd former Ole Miss player, accounting for the 28th appearance overall, to play in a Super Bowl and the first since Michael Oher and Patrick Willis represented Ole Miss in Super Bowl XLVII. Bolden also laid this massive block in the Patriots' win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.

After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of Southeastern Conference play.

In their league opener, the Rebels went on the road and pushed No. 1 Kentucky to overtime, and then four days later, cruised to a wire-to-wire 65-49 win over South Carolina. One of the keys, head coach Andy Kennedy said, has been finding the right combinations on the floor.

"With us, every player has a strength and a weakness," Kennedy said. "I'm trying to have combinations to cover ourselves. We're getting better at that."

For the Rebels, the right combinations start with their two leading scorers in junior guard Stefan Moody (14.8 ppg), the high-volume scorer, and the senior guard Jarvis Summers (14.4 ppg), the game-manager, who are learning how to play together in the backcourt.

"The biggest thing is Moody has more assertive, as opposed to watching Jarvis," Kennedy said. "He's becoming more assertive and, now he's helping Jarvis. A lot of times early in the season, we were ball-watching a lot. Everybody was watching Jarvis dribble around, and nobody knew how aggressive they needed to be. We're starting to figure that out."

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, who saw the duo up close and personal this past Saturday, likened Moody to an NFL defensive back because of his freakish athletic ability and described Summers as "probably the least-heralded player in the SEC that's really good." Through two SEC games, Moody and Summers are averaging a combined 21.0 ppg and shooting a combined 49.0 percent from the floor.

"I thought the way they play, I have always felt that (Jarvis) Summers was the heartbeat of their team," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. "As solid as he is, is the sense of urgency and toughness that he plays with, even when they had Marshall Henderson on the team.

"The different look right now is the newcomer (Stefan Moody) that they have that did take a lot of those (Henderson-type) shots and played so well against Kentucky the other night gives them the feel of Henderson. He's a very capable scorer that can make shots."

After 1-1 start in league play, the Rebels enter a key stretch, where they play three straight games against RPI top 45 opponents, starting with LSU (No. 45) on Wednesday night.

"These are two teams that everybody has in the tournament," said sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz of LSU and Arkansas (No. 13 in the latest RPI). "At the end of the day, they're going to be in the tournament. So to get both of them is going to be really good for us."

LSU is led by sophomore forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, who are averaging a combined 32.7 ppg and pulling down a combined 19.2 rebounds per game. Martin ranks third in scoring (16.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.6 rpg), while Mickey ranks sixth in scoring (15.9 ppg), second in scoring (10.6 rig) and leads the league in blocked shots (3.6/game).

"The conservation with LSU starts with Martin and Mickey, two great players, and they have really taken a big leap forward as you expect from year one to year two," Kennedy said. "They're two guys who caused you a lot of matchup problems because of their size and versatility."

Last season, Kennedy said, their biggest deficiencies were rebounding margin, defensive rebounding percentage, and an inability to finish close to the basket, all areas where Ole Miss has improved from last year to this point in the season. 

Against No. 1 Kentucky, the nation's longest team and the league's leader in rebounding margin, scoring defense, field goal percentage and blocked shots, Ole Miss was outrebounded just 34-32 and outscored the Wildcats 30-26 in the paint.

Led by Martin and Mickey, LSU provides another tough test for Ole Miss in each of those respective areas, as the Tigers rank fifth in the league in rebounding margin (+5.2/game) and second in blocked shots (6.3/game).

"Kentucky is the biggest team in college basketball and they would be the second-biggest team in the NBA, so if we can do that against Kentucky, we can do that against anybody else," said Saiz, who scored a career-high 20 points in last year's meeting with LSU."

Ole Miss football finished the 2014 football season with a 9-4 record and a top-20 final national rankings in both polls. The Rebels come in at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coach Poll, their first final national ranking since 2009 and their highest final national ranking since 2008, when they finished No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the Coaches poll.

With the 2014 college football season officially in the books, various outlets looked ahead to 2015 and released way-too-early preseason top 25 rankings for 2015. Ole Miss featured prominently in these rankings, including two top-10 rankings, one as as high as No. 7.

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: 7th

The Rebels weren't a one-hit wonder. Hugh Freeze gets back receiver Laquon Treadwell and budding superstar Robert Nkemdiche in the defensive line. The Landshark defense returns with a snarl. If Chad Kelly can keep his nose clean, Ole Miss might be better at quarterback with the departure of Bo Wallace.

Bryan Fischer, Mike Huguenin and Chase Goodbread, NFL.com: 7th

2014 final ranking: 19

Key returnees: DL Robert Nkemdiche, WR Laquon Treadwell, OL Laremy Tunsil

The skinny: The Rebels need to find a quarterback to replace the inconsistent Bo Wallace, but the quality recruiting classes coach Hugh Freeze has brought to Oxford should be starting to pay big dividends this upcoming season. There's a ton of talent that will eventually make its way to the draft, but it still might not be enough to get out of the loaded SEC West on top.

Paul Myerberg, USA Today Sports: 9th

Why No. 9? Because the Rebels improve with each passing season under Hugh Freeze. The offense may be more consistent with a new starter under center, particularly with wide receiver Laquon Treadwell back from injury. The defense will retool in the secondary without two all-conference picks, but the talent along the defensive line is undeniable -- and it's these contributors, led by Robert Nkemdiche, who set the tone for the entire defense. If they can stay healthy, the Rebels might sneak up and take the SEC West Division.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: 11th

2014 record: 9-4, 5-3 SEC

Returning starters: 10 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams

Key personnel losses: QB Bo Wallace, S Cody Prewitt, CB Senquez Golson, LB Serderius Bryant, LB Deterrian Shackelford

Why they might finish higher: If you can somehow erase the Rebels' horrid performance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl from your mind, the rest of the 2014 campaign was pretty memorable. The Rebels started 7-0 and were ranked No. 3 in the country before injuries started piling up. They're bringing back 18 players who started the bowl game, and star receiver Laquon Treadwell, cornerback Tee Shepherd and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche are coming back from injuries.

Why they might finish lower: There's no question Wallace had a roller-coaster career under center, but the Rebels don't have a replacement ready to go. Redshirt freshmen Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade are in line to replace him, although Clemson transfer Chad Kelly could be an option, despite his recent legal problems. There are some significant holes to fill on defense, after losing three of the top five tacklers and two stars in the secondary. Ole Miss' road schedule in 2015 isn't easy, with games at Alabama, Florida, Memphis, Auburn and Mississippi State.

Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports: 11th

The Rebels' Peach Bowl debacle obscured a season in which they beat 12-2 Boise State, 12-2 Alabama and 10-3 Mississippi State. The Rebels will be breaking in a new quarterback but should be deep with playmakers, provided WR Laquon Treadwell returns healthy. And a defense that dominated over the first half of the season should only be more talented.

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: 13th

The Rebels are coming off their first season of double-digit victories since 1999. And the arrow on coach Hugh Freeze's team is pointing up, as this team has the pieces in place to finish among the top 10-15 nationally in 2015. Bo Wallace must be replaced at quarterback, but the new starter will benefit from the return at Laquon Treadwell at receiver. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is one of the best in the nation and is part of an offensive line that returns all five starters from the Peach Bowl depth chart. With the uncertainty at quarterback, the defense will have to carry Ole Miss - at least early on - in 2015. This unit allowed only 13.8 points per game in 12 regular season contests and should have one of the nation's top defensive lines. However, there's concern in the secondary with the departure of cornerback Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt.

Subscribe and Share

Tags

Recent Comments