GAME NOTES: Rebs Take NCAA Hopes To Music City
SEC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINALS: W2 Ole Miss (21-9, 9-7 SEC) vs. W6 LSU (11-19, 2-14)/E3 Tennessee (23-7, 11-5)
NCAA HOPES ON THE LINE IN NASHVILLE
SEC West Champion Ole Miss will look to bolster its NCAA Tournament chances when the West No. 2 seeded Rebels face the winner of E3 Tennessee and W6 LSU in Friday's second-round SEC Tournament matchup. By winning each of its last four regular-season games, including a 68-66 come-from-behind win at Arkansas in the regular-season finale, Ole Miss secured the program's fifth SEC West title and second in four years under head coach Andy Kennedy (2007). The Rebels finished with a 9-7 league record, tied atop the division standings with Mississippi State. The Bulldogs earned a No. 1 seed by virtue of two wins over the Rebels. The 9-7 mark is Ole Miss' best league record since going 9-7 in 2002, which was also the program's last NCAA Tournament appearance.
NCAA TOURNAMENT RESUMÉ HIGHLIGHTS
- The Rebels have non-conference, neutral-site wins over No. 6 RPI Kansas State (86-74) and C-USA Champion No. 42 RPI UTEP (91-81).
- The Kansas State win is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season.
- Ole Miss has a 9-5 record away from home, including a 6-4 mark in true road games (5-3 in conference road games) and a 3-1 record at neutral sites.
- Among the Rebels' losses are five of the RPI's top 25 squads (RealTimeRPI) - No. 3 Kentucky, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 9 Villanova, No. 13 Tennessee and No. 22 Vanderbilt - and no loss by more than 12 points.
- Only one loss to a sub-100 RPI team (Arkansas).
- The team is 20-6 when freshman Reginald Buckner, the squad's best post defender, suits up. The Rebels went 1-3 when he was out with a sprained ankle and also dropped the first two games after he returned but was not yet 100 percent. He is now back to full strength.
- Ole Miss closed out the regular season on a four-game winning streak, including a pair of league road wins.
- Ole Miss registered a 12-2 record against non-league foes (only losses to Villanova and West Virginia), then went 9-7 in the SEC, the fourth-ranked conference in the RPI.
- The team was ranked in the top 25 national polls for nine straight weeks from Dec. 7 to Feb. 7, rising as high as No. 14.
OTHER QUICK NOTES
- Ole Miss has a 23-46 record in 47 appearances all-time at the SEC Tournament, which includes one tourney championship, in 1981.
- The Rebels are 6-4 all-time in SEC Tournament meetings with Tennessee and 3-5 against LSU.
- Andy Kennedy has led Ole Miss to 20+ wins for the third time in his first four seasons. He is the second Rebel coach ever to reach the 20-win mark three times.
- At 78.4 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 25th in the nation in scoring offense.
- Junior All-SEC guard Chris Warren has hit a 3-pointer in 40 consecutive games, one shy of the school record and tied with Tennessee legend Allan Houston for the sixth-longest streak in SEC history.
OLE MISS IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
The Rebels have an overall record of 23-46 in 47 SEC Tournament appearances and are 9-18 in tournament action since the league went to the two-division format in the 1991-92 season. The Rebels have reached four SEC championship contests and have a 1-3 record in those games. Ole Miss took home the tournament title in 1981, defeating Georgia in the championship game. Last season, the team lost to Kentucky 71-58 in the first round in Tampa.
REBELS IN THE QUARTERFINALS
The Rebels have an overall record of 9-17 in quarterfinal games at the SEC Tournament. This is the 18th time they have received a first-round bye. The last time they won a quarterfinal game was in 2007, when they defeated LSU 80-60 after getting the first-round bye.
SEC TOURNAMENT IN NASHVILLE
This year marks the fifth time that the SEC Tournament will be held in Nashville and the 11th time in the state of Tennessee. Ole Miss has a 2-4 record in SEC Tournament games in Nashville, including an appearance in the championship game in 2001, which the Rebels lost to Kentucky.
SCOUTING THE VOLS
Tennessee is the East No. 3 seed after going 11-5 in the SEC and 23-7 overall in the regular season. Bruce Pearl's Vols are ranked 13th and 15th in the national coaches and AP polls, respectively. As a team, UT ranks second in the league in scoring margin at +9.8 and also second in assists (14.8/game), steals (8.2/game) and turnover margin (+3.7). Scotty Hopson leads the offense with 13.1 ppg, while Wayne Chism adds 12.4 ppg and a team-high 6.8 rpg.
OLE MISS-TENNESSEE SERIES
The Rebels and Vols have met 104 times, with Tennessee holding a 66-38 lead in a series that began in 1924. The home team has won every matchup since 2004, including UT's 71-69 overtime win in Knoxville on Jan. 16 earlier this season. In their last four meetings, Ole Miss has averaged 79.0 points and out-scored UT by an average of 6.5 points. Andy Kennedy is 2-2 against the Vols in his career.
OLE MISS VS. TENNESSEE IN SEC TOURNEY
The Rebels and Vols have squared off 10 times in the SEC Tournament, with Ole Miss leading 6-4. The last time they faced each other was in 2001, when the Rebels secured an 86-73 quarterfinal victory en route to a finals appearance.
SCOUTING THE BAYOU BENGALS
West No. 6 seed LSU enters the tournament with an 11-19 overall record and 2-14 mark in league play. The Tigers closed SEC play with two wins in their last four games, including a 50-48 triumph over Georgia in the regular-season finale. Trent Johnson's club lost the majority of the key pieces of last year's SEC Championship squad that went 13-3 in SEC play. LSU does feature one of the league's top big men in Tasmin Mitchell (17.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg). Bo Spencer adds 14.9 ppg and Storm Warren 11.6.
OLE MISS-LSU SERIES
The series with the Tigers, which began in 1909, is the second-longest in Ole Miss basketball history. LSU leads the all-time series 116-82, although Ole Miss holds a 16-14 edge in the last 30 meetings. Ole Miss won both regular-season meetings this year, 73-63 in Baton Rouge and 72-59 in Oxford. Andy Kennedy owns a 6-4 record against LSU in his career. He faced the Bayou Bengals once as the Cincinnati head coach in 2005-06, earning a 75-72 victory at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
OLE MISS VS. LSU IN SEC TOURNEY
The Rebels and Tigers have squared off eight times in the SEC Tournament, with LSU leading 5-3. The last time they faced each other was in 2007, when the Rebels secured an 80-60 quarterfinal victory en route to a semifinal berth.
The winner of Ole Miss' quarterfinal game will advance to Saturday's semifinals and face the winner between E1 Kentucky and W4 Alabama/E5 South Carolina. That semifinal game will take place at Noon CT and be televised by ABC.
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