Ok, tonight is the night when we find out if the Rebels are for real this season. They are a perfect 7-0 at home and now welcome in 18th ranked Mississippi State. Head Coach Andy Kennedy hasn’t been successful against the Bulldogs in years past with a record of 3-7 and hasn’t beaten State in Oxford since 2008. In this, the SEC’s most played rivalry, State holds the edge over Ole Miss 138-101 in total games played and has beaten the Rebels in the last five meetings. Sounds like a David v.s. Goliath type matchup, but here are the top 5 keys to Ole Miss winning this game.
5. Buckner and Holloway Down Low: With Sidney for the Bulldogs down low, the Rebels need to take the ball to the hoop early to get Sidney to create some early fouls and sit on the bench. Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway need to step up big in the paint and not only score a lot of baskets but D-Up on the other end. State shoots the 3-ball very well so we need to make them force it inside and use our two big men to produce for us defensively.
4. Create Turnovers: Ole Miss carries an impressive stat when they win the turnover battle. They are 7-1 when winning in turnovers, however the Rebels need to keep the crowd going in this game. There’s no better way to do that then taking the ball away and dunking it on the other end. Get State out of their rhythm early and often and win the game.
3. Stop the Three-Pointers: State is an excellent three-point shooting team and can drive the dagger into your chest if you let them. The Rebels need to stop State from getting open looks from the arc and force them to dump the ball inside where Buckner and Holloway can step up. The Rebels are terrible this season when trying to shoot from the arc and don’t want to play a game of catch up down the stretch.
2. Hump Day is our Friend: Since Andy Kennedy took over as Ole Miss Head Coach the Rebels are an impressive 14-0 at home on Wednesday’s against SEC opponents. Add this on with the Rebels 7-0 start at home this season it seems like this is a win that the Rebels can certainly get.
1. Home-Court Advantage: This is the biggest component in the Rebels start to the 2011-2012 season. The Rebels are perfect at home with their last win coming in an impressive fashion over Arkansas, who beat State two weeks ago. The crowd needs to come early and cheer on their Rebels and in return the Rebels need to get out to a fast start to keep their fans chanting the Hotty Toddy all night long.
Tipoff for tonight’s game is set for 8:00 at the Tad Smith Collesium. Free T-Shirts will be handed out to help bleed out the Tad Pad. It worked for the Kentucky game last year so why not show up tonight and support our Ole Miss Rebels.