It's game 14 for Ole Miss Basketball on Saturday, with a tough trip to Knoxville to take on 5th-ranked Tennessee. Can the Rebels keep their unbeaten record?
Saturday sees the college basketball season ramp up for the Rebels, with conference play set to begin. 2024 couldn't have started with a tougher test, with a match-up against the highest-ranked SEC team in Tennessee.
The Vols are ranked number 5 in the AP Poll, with a record of 10-3. Two of those losses came against the current top two ranked teams in Kansas and Purdue. The third loss was against number 8-ranked North Carolina. In all three games, the Volunteers played the teams close. Tennessee have stand-out victories against Michigan State and Illinois.
The Rebels and Volunteers have one opponent they have both faced in NC State. Ole Miss brushed past them 72-52, while Tennessee beat the Wolfpack 79-70.
This will be a tough test for Ole Miss in front of a sell-out crowd in Knoxville. Despite the three losses, the Vols are playing some top-level basketball. The team has one of the highest assist rates in the country, assisting on 63.3% of their field goals this season.
One player Ole Miss will need to slow down is Northern Colorado transfer Dalton Knecht. The senior guard has stats of 15.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Alongside Josiah-Jordan James, Knecht has made 21 three-pointers for the team.
The game feels like it could be decided around the board, with rebounds being a key to victory. Ole Miss will need to improve in that area to stand any chance of taking the victory. The Rebels give up rebounds on just under 30% of misses,
When these two programs met last season, Tennessee came out on top 70-55. Ole Miss are in a different place under Chris Beard compared to previous seasons. If Ole Miss can play the Vols close, even without getting the victory, it puts them in good stead heading into the rest of their SEC slate of games in 2024.
However, can Chris Beard and the Rebels do the unthinkable and stay unbeaten against the number five ranked Tennessee Volunteers? It would be some statement to the rest of basketball and the SEC.