Auburn (8-3) at Ole Miss (9-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Auburn 8-1, Ole Miss 5-3. Away Record:: Auburn 0-1, Ole Miss 2-1. Neutral Record: Auburn 0-1, Ole Miss 2-0. Conference Record: Auburn 0-0, Ole Miss 0-0. Series Record: Auburn leads, 74-53.
GAME NOTES: The Auburn Tigers will attempt to extend their season-long winning streak on Thursday night, as they head to Tad Smith Coliseum to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in the SEC opener for both teams.
Auburn recently wrapped up an undefeated four-game homestand to improve to 8-3 this season, with its most recent triumph coming in convincing fashion over Florida A&M last Saturday, 81-50. This matchup marks the Tigers' second true road game, having previously fell at Iowa State on Dec. 99-70.
Ole Miss has also been impressive during non-conference play, getting off to a 9-4 start, but it has underperformed of late with losses in two of three. The Rebels dropped a heartbreaker to Dayton on Saturday, 83-80 in overtime, to slip to 5-3 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
In the storied all-time series, Auburn holds a 74-53 advantage over Ole Miss, but the Rebels have claimed four straight meetings, including an 88-55 decision in Oxford on Feb. 23, 2013.
The Tigers put forth one of their most dominating efforts of the season in their most recent 31-point victory over Florida A&M, as they outshot their opponent from the field, 48.4 percent to 21.9 percent, and held a comfortable advantage in the rebounding battle, 56-37. As usual, KT Harrell led the way with 22 points, doing so on 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free- throw line. Chris Denson was also on the mark from the field (8-of-13) for his 19 points, while Allen Payne registered 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
On the season, Auburn boasts an impressive offensive attack, shooting 46.6 percent from the field for 76.9 ppg, good for a +6.1 scoring margin. Harrell is the SEC's leading scorer with 19.4 ppg, and his accomplishments have been even more impressive considering his outstanding percentages from the field (.504), 3-point range (.426) and the foul line (.879). Rounding out one of the nation's best scoring duos is Denson (19.0 ppg), who's even more effective from the field than Harrell (.511) but oftentimes struggles at the line (.653). No one else scores in double figures, but Tahj Shamsid-Deen (8.4 ppg) has handed out 37 assists paired with just 17 turnovers.
In a back-and-forth contest with Dayton its last time out, Ole Miss tied the game with 1:53 left in regulation on a Jarvis Summers jumper, but both teams went scoreless down the stretch to force overtime, and in the extra session, UD drilled the game-winning 3-pointer in the waning seconds. The Rebels shot 44.4 percent from the field in the loss but were uncharacteristically cold from beyond the arc (4-of-14). Summers did all he could, pouring in a career- high 29 points on 9-of-15 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Marshall Henderson scored 15, Aaron Jones netted 10 and Sebastian Saiz hauled in 11 rebounds.
Much like Auburn, Ole Miss has had no issue putting points on the board this season, as it registers just shy of 80 ppg thanks to its active, effective nature from long distance, dropping in 8.2 3-pointers per contest at a 37.8 percent clip. It also helps its cause with a stellar +3.0 turnover margin. Henderson leads the way with 18.8 ppg, and all but 10 of his 63 field goals have come from 3-point territory. Summers (17.8 ppg) is one of the nation's most highly-efficient guards, netting 55.2 percent of his field-goal tries, including 24-of-44 from long range. Derrick Millinghaus rounds out the double- digit scorers with 10.5 ppg.
The scoreboard should light up with regularity in this one as two impressive offenses go toe-to-toe. Even though Auburn is soaring and the Rebels have stumbled in recent weeks, figure for Ole Miss to get back on track against an inexperienced road squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 82, Auburn 78
01/09 10:32:11 ET