Auburn (9-17) at Ole Miss (19-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: FSN. Home Record: Auburn 7-8, Ole Miss 13-1. Away Record: Auburn 1-6, Ole Miss 5-5. Neutral Record: Auburn 1-3, Ole Miss 1-1. Conference Record: Auburn 3-10, Ole Miss 8-5. Series Record: Auburn leads, 74-52.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling SEC squads are set for a Saturday night showdown, as the Ole Miss Rebels welcome the Auburn Tigers to Tad Smith Coliseum.
Since starting its SEC slate with two straight wins, Auburn has gone into a tailspin with losses in 10 of its last 11, including four in a row, to drop to 9-17 overall and 3-10 in conference. The Tigers most recently closed out a three-game homestand with a 65-56 loss to Texas A&M, and now they head back out of the road where they have struggled mightily (1-6).
Unlike the Tigers, the Rebels' issues have only started recently, as they have dropped five of their last seven contests on the heels of the best start in school history. Ole Miss lost a heart-breaker at South Carolina on Wednesday night, 63-62, but even with the slide, the team is still in the midst of a strong season (19-7, 8-5 SEC).
Auburn has a handle on the all-time series with Ole Miss, 74-52, but the Rebels won the first meeting between the teams this season, going into Auburn Arena and handing the Tigers a 63-61 defeat on Jan. 26 on a pair of late free throws by Marshall Henderson.
Auburn made a statement early in its latest game by running out to a 12-0 lead less than six minutes in, but that's about all the home fans would cheer about as their beloved squad faltered the rest of the way en route to a nine-point setback. The Tigers shot a lowly 37.5 percent from the field, including just 5-of-23 from 3-point range (.217). Allen Payne was the lone player to score in double figures with 11 points, although Rob Chubb, Chris Denson and Jordan Price all tallied nine points. The Tigers have failed to stand out this season either with their scoring offense (65.9 ppg) or their defensive showing (67.8 ppg), and their field goal percentage ranks 13th in the SEC (.441). A big reason for their shooting woes has been Frankie Sullivan who, despite averaging 14.9 ppg, has been lackluster from the field (.375) and beyond the arc (.286). Denson is a solid sixth man with 12.1 ppg, and Chubb is fundamentally sound (8.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.0 bpg).
The Rebels held an eight-point lead on the road with five minutes to play at South Carolina, but they could not hold onto that advantage down the stretch as they were daggered with a game-winning 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds to play. Ole Miss, which ranks seventh in the nation in scoring at 78.8 ppg, had an extremely uncharacteristic night shooting the ball, as it made only 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts, including 8-of-24 from 3-point range. Murphy Holloway was strong in the paint with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Derrick Millinghaus and Henderson poured in 11 points apiece, but the pair did so on a combined 8-of-30 from the field. Henderson sits atop the SEC in scoring with 19.3 ppg thanks to his league-high 97 3-pointers, but over the last four games he has shot just 17-of-56 from the field (.304). The Rebels are fortunate to have one of the best forward duos in the country on their side, with Holloway (14.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.5 spg, .531 FG percentage) and Reginald Buckner (9.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.8 bpg, .605 FG percentage) both causing havoc in the low post.
Ole Miss quickly went from one of the favorites in the SEC to in danger of being on the outside looking in come NCAA Tournament time. Despite the Rebels' recent struggles however, they shouldn't have much of an issue blowing past a disappointing Auburn squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 84, Auburn 68
02/23 10:42:37 ET