Ole Miss (22-8) at LSU (18-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maravich Center (13,215) -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Ole Miss 16-1, LSU 14-2. Away Record: Ole Miss 5-6, LSU 4-8. Neutral Record: Ole Miss 1-1, LSU 0-0. Conference Record: Ole Miss 11-6, LSU 9-8. Series Record: LSU leads, 117-85.
GAME NOTES: The Ole Miss Rebels attempt to bolster their resume' on Saturday afternoon, as they wrap up the regular season in an SEC showdown with the LSU Tigers at the Maravich Center.
With Florida (14-3) having already clinched the regular-season crown, Ole Miss (11-6) is left to battle Kentucky, Missouri and Alabama for the second, third and fourth seeds in tournament, all of which earn double-byes into the quarterfinals.
The Rebels captured a must-win game on Tuesday night when they defeated Alabama at home (87-83), but while they've won five in a row in Oxford, they've dropped five straight on the road. In addition to helping them in the SEC, a win here would bolster the Rebels' NCAA Tournament chances, as they are currently situated squarely on the bubble for an at-large selection.
While LSU is out of the running for a top-four seed in next week's conference tournament, it is still in the midst of an impressive season, going 18-10 overall and 9-8 in league play. The Tigers have won three of their last four games, including an impressive 68-57 decision at Texas A&M on Wednesday, and they will be either the No. 7, 8 or 9 seed in the SEC tourney depending on Saturday's results.
With regard to the all-time series between these two clubs, LSU leads Ole Miss, 117-85. This bout marks the only meeting between them this season. In 2011-12, the two-game series was split with each team winning at home.
Ole Miss celebrated senior night in a big way earlier in the week, as it held off a late rally by Alabama to claim a crucial four-point victory. The team shot a lofty 55.1 percent from the floor, paced by a 24-point effort by Marshall Henderson. Jarvis Summers pitched in with 14 points, while LaDarius White (17 points) and Derrick Millinghaus (11 points, five assists) were both impressive in reserve roles. The majority of the Rebels' success this season has come thanks to the SEC's top-ranked offense, which nets 79.1 ppg. Henderson is the league's most potent scorer with 19.6 ppg, but while he is among the nation's leaders in 3-pointers (.358) and has been excellent from the foul line (.872), his overall field goal percentage (.378) suggests that he oftentimes hurts his team more than he helps. Murphy Holloway appears well on his way to an All-SEC selection, as he scores 14.6 ppg (on 54.8 percent from the field) while ripping down a league-best 9.6 rpg. Reginald Buckner also brings a physical presence to the squad with 9.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 2.8 bpg.
LSU has not been a strong road team (4-8), but it bucked that trend with a solid 11-point win at Texas A&M the last time out, as it shot 48.2 percent from the field and won the turnover battle, 18-11. Charles Carmouche continued his hot streak with 20 points, and he has now scored 20 or more points in five of the last six games after failing to do so in the 21 games prior. Johnny O'Bryant took care of business in the paint with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers own the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the SEC (71.5 ppg), and they benefit from having five players average double figures on a nightly basis, but they also rank just 10th in scoring defense (68.4 ppg). O'Bryant III is one of the most imposing forwards in the league with 13.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg, while Anthony Hickey (11.8 ppg) is an outstanding perimeter defender with an NCAA-best 3.2 spg. Carmouche's recent play has bumped his scoring average up to 10.9 ppg, while Shavon Coleman (10.5 ppg, 6.3 ppg) and Andre Stringer (10.1 ppg) can also be relied upon on a consistent basis.
Ole Miss has its back against the wall, plain and simple. A loss here would be a double-whammy, knocking it down in the SEC standings and possibly out of the NCAA Tournament field. The urgency will be there for the Rebels, but they have been a completely different team on the road of late, and with LSU playing well, the Tigers have the leg up to go into the postseason with momentum.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 77, Ole Miss 75
03/09 10:41:44 ET