Unbeaten and No. 1 Kentucky (24-0, 11-0) has established itself not only as the best team in the SEC, but the best in country.
Whoever wins Saturday night in Oxford, Miss., can make a solid claim as being the second-best in the league.
No. 24 Arkansas (19-5, 8-3) will visit Ole Miss (17-7, 8-3) Saturday night at 8 p.m. in a soon-to-be replaced place affectionately called The Tad Pad.
The Razorbacks have won six of seven and the Rebels are riding a six-game winning streak.
“I understand that it is sold out,” Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said. “It is a great atmosphere and it is game 12…There is three weeks left and it is getting that time of the year that the games keep getting bigger and bigger.”
The Tad Pad – otherwise known as Tad Smith Coliseum – opened in 1966, had a renovation in 2001, seats 8,867 and will be replaced in Jan. of 2016 with a new $64.8 million arena, which will seat 9,500.
The lights went out at The Tad Pad last season while Arkansas was playing there - causing a 25-minute delay - and the start of a game earlier this season was delayed 30 minutes for the same thing.
“I’m sure they are looking forward to having a new facility,” Anderson said. “The Tad Pad had been around for quite a while.
“…I know (Ole Miss head coach) Andy (Kennedy) is excited about it,” Anderson added. “It is there home for right now and I am sure they are looking forward to a new facility.”
The Razorbacks own a 42-31 edge in the series between the two teams, but the Rebels have won 23 of the past 32 and 10 of the last 12 contests between the two.
The Rebels, fresh off a 62-61 Thursday night win at Florida on Stefan Moody’s 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left, downed the Razorbacks 96-82 back on Jan. 17.
“They came in and – as I always say when you are playing in the conference race and in family – stole one,” Anderson said. “They shot lights out. It was kind of an unusual game in that we played with just two officials.
“But they shot the ball well and did a great job of coming in and getting control of the game,” Anderson added. “So now we get a chance to go to their place and it is a big game.
It is the only home loss suffered this season by Arkansas, who has won six of its last seven games, and was the most points ever scored by an opponent at Bud Walton Arena.
Ole Miss led 52-40 at halftime after shooting a sizzling 74 percent from the field (20-of-27) from the field in the opening half and 56 percent for the game.
“I always thought we could score and in that particular game that’s all we tried to do, just tried to score,” Anderson said. “I think it was after that game that I made the decision that there has got to be some accountability in the guys who are going to play are going to have to play defense.
“…We really kind of zeroed in on fixing our defense,” Anderson added, “and our guys have done a good job of it up until this point. We can still get better.”
Arkansas has two different starters than it did that night with Alandise Harris replacing Moses Kingsley and Anton Beard replacing Jabril Durham in the opening five.
“I think I may have said it a month ago that this team won’t be the same in February as it was in January and I continue to say it as we move toward March,” Anderson said. “You see things start coming together and get control of the game.”
Ole Miss is led by the trio of 5-10 junior guard Moody (15.6 points) – the reigning SEC Player of the Week – 6-3 senior guard Jarvis Summers (13.2) and 6-6, 205-pound senior guard LaDarius “Snoop” White (11.6).
The Rebels have no one averaging more than 29 minutes per game with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes a contest.
"I did think we would have the versatility we've shown," Kennedy said. "We can play a number of different guys and different ways, whether it be defensively or we're leading the league is scoring in league play and we're still not shooting the ball great. Forty-four percent is OK, but it's not as good as I think we can."
Arkansas freshman guard Anton Beard pressures Ole Miss senior Jarvis Summers.
Last Battle At The Tad Pad
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