Thursday, February 21, 2013
Uphill battle for the Rebels?
By Luke Lapinski
Just a week ago, we wondered if Ole Miss could be in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament altogether despite its stellar start. The Rebels were coming off a loss to a Texas A&M squad they should have been able to beat, and had suddenly dropped four of five.
They responded to that defeat by bouncing back with a home win over Georgia, but last night's loss at the hands of lowly South Carolina could be very damaging. The Gamecocks were in a complete tailspin, having lost six straight to drop to just 2-10 in SEC play, while exasperating head coach Frank Martin in the process. And Ole Miss led 62-56 on Wednesday night with just over five minutes remaining. Then the wheels came off. Andy Kennedy's squad never scored again, USC rattled off the final seven points in the contest and now the Rebels find themselves in a very tough spot.
At 19-7, they still have a solid enough record that a strong finish should put them in a decent position. And their five remaining regular season contests are all very winnable -- on paper, at least. But they don't have many signature wins to point to, outside of a victory over Missouri on Jan. 12. And the selection committee doesn't usually look favorably on teams that stumble down the stretch, which is exactly what Mississippi is doing right now. All of a sudden, the game against Auburn this weekend is huge. And the Tigers weren't exactly pleased with Marshall Henderson and friends when the two programs met late last month. Don't think they wouldn't like a little revenge.