Auburn, Ala.--After upsetting a team on the road that is fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth the Auburn Tigers will try to do it again on Saturday when the Ole Miss Rebels visit Auburn Arena for an SEC basketball game.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. as the 15-7 Rebels, who are 6-3 in the league, take on an Auburn team that evened its record at 11-11 with a win at LSU on Thursday night to improve to 3-6 in SEC play. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Auburn’s coach, Bruce Pearl, said his Tigers will need to bring their “A” game on Saturday to knock off the Rebels, who are riding a four-game winning streak. On Wednesday night Ole Miss was a 69-58 winner in a home contest vs. Texas A&M.
“Ole Miss is a very deep team, a very athletic team, a very well coached team,” Pearl said. “They present you with enormous challenges.”
An additional challenge is having a short turnaround after playing in Baton Rouge on Thursday night. Because of that the Tigers did some preparation for this game earlier in the week before playing LSU.
“They are tough, physical team,” Pearl said. “They are going to try and hit us right in the mouth. They will be well prepared. They will try and take away what we do.
“(Stefan) Moody and (Jarvis) Summers are tough covers,” Pearl pointed out. “(LaDarius) White has unbelievable range.”
Moody, a 5-10 junior guard, is averaging 15.5 points after transferring from Kilgore Junior College in Texas. Summers, a 6-3 senior guard, is averaging 13.8 points per game and an SEC-best 5.1 assists. White, a 6-6 senior guard, is contributing 11 points per outing.
The Rebels have helped their cause by being plus 3.0 in rebound margin and averaging 1.5 fewer turnovers per game than their opponents.
Ole Miss is limiting opponents to 39.1 percent shooting and 66.3 points per game. The Rebels are making 43.3 percent of their shots while averaging 73.8 points.
Where the Rebels really shine is at the free throw. They lead the nation by making 79.9 percent of their attempts.
The visitors are expected to start a pair of six-foot-nine forwards. M.J. Rhett is averaging 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds while Sebastian Saiz is scoring 7.3 points with 5.2 rebounds per outing.
Marcus Newby, a 6-3 guard, is a key defender for Ole Miss and is averaging 3.9 points and 4.9 rebounds.
“Ole Miss is playing for their NCAA Tournament lives and we know there is a lot at stake,” Pearl said. “There is not a ticket to be had, the game is sold out. If anyone has tickets I need four. Great problem to have.”
Streaking Rebels: Ole Miss is on its sixth winning streak of four or more games with Andy Kennedy as head coach. Prior to his arrival that had happened just 12 times in 71 seasons.
Sharpshooter: Ole Miss junior guard Stefan Moody is making an SEC-leading 90.4 percent of his free throws, which ranks eighth nationally.
In SEC Games: The Rebels are scoring an average of 74.3 points per contest in SEC play, the best in the league. During their current winning streak they have averaged just 7.8 turnovers per contest.
Familiar Face: Former Auburn assistant coach Tony Madlock is on Kennedy’s staff after spending the previous four seasons with the Tigers.
Tigers vs. Rebels: Ole Miss has won the last five matchups since the Tigers defeated the Rebels on Jan. 14th, 2012 in double overtime at Auburn Arena. Auburn leads the overall series 73-55 and is 49-12 all-time vs. the Rebels in games played at AU.
The first 2,000 fans entering Auburn Arena will receive a Charles Barkley bobblehead. The former Tiger star will also be recognized for endowing two professorships.
Long Range Success: K.T. Harrell is hitting 49.1 percent of his three-pointers in SEC play, making 26-53. He made 5-9 vs. LSU.
Antoine Mason is in his first season with the Tigers after transferring from Niagara.
Mason’s Best Game: Pearl liked what he saw from senior guard Antoine Mason, who scored 24 points while adding eight rebounds vs. LSU. “Antoine Mason had a dominating performance,” the coach said. “He was tremendous in almost every aspect.
“He maintained his patience offensively and made the shots he got. As soon as you could tell he was warm we went to him and he delivered. He delivered with scoring, he delivered with passing, he delivered with rebounding, he delivered getting the last rebound in the free throw set, getting the 50-50 ball, getting the steal and doubling down. He just did it all.”
Up Next: The Tigers will play at home on Tuesday vs. Arkansas. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.