Primer: Ole Miss - Georgia

Ole Miss (16-8, 7-4 SEC) hits the road to take on Georgia (13-10, 7-4 SEC) today at 3 p.m. What to watch for? We take a look.


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Game: Ole Miss - Alabama
Date: Feb. 15, 3 p.m.
Location: Athens, Ga.
TV/Radio: FSN/Ole Miss Radio Network


The Lede:

For Ole Miss, Tuesday night was frustrating for a lot of reasons.

The Rebels fell at Alabama, 67-64, their fifth loss by five points or less this season. A winnable road game, against a bottom-tier SEC team, was there for the taking. Instead, Ole Miss was handed its second sub-100 RPI loss of the league schedule.

Perspective is needed after such a loss, especially for a young team with only one senior. As nightmarish as Tuscaloosa was, Ole Miss' position for the NCAA tournament, at least according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, didn't change. The Rebels are still one of his "First Four Out."

"I've got a lot of responsibilities as the head coach here, but I think one of the biggest is to lend perspective," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Perspective is certainly valuable at this time of year. If last year taught us nothing, it's just truly about focusing on the next opportunity. As long as you've got games, you've got opportunity. That's got to be the mindset of this group."


Andy Kennedy
AP Images

Seven regular-season conference games remain. The SEC tournament is March 12-16 in Atlanta, Ga. As last season proved, when the Rebels won eight of their last 10, including three in the SEC tournament to claim the tournament crown, as long as there are opportunities in front of them, don't count them out. They could play their way in.

Perspective.

Up next for Ole Miss, 16-8 overall and 7-4 in the conference, is at Georgia (13-10, 7-4 SEC) today at 3 p.m.

"A team that has found its way," Kennedy said of the Bulldogs. "They've done a good job of protecting home floor. They were similar to us in the respect that last year it was about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the best player in our league. He leaves, so now they've got a kid in Charles Mann who they've asked to ‘OK, you played last year, now we need you to make the play.' A Marcus Thornton, a Kenny Gaines - guys who were all players last year, but now they are prominent in whether the Bulldogs win or lose.

"It took them a little while in the non-league to figure that out. Once they've gotten into league play, they've played pretty well. We're playing a club that's playing good. We've got to go in and make sure that we take the right approach."

Ole Miss enters the game with an RPI rank of 62, according to ESPN.com. The Bulldogs are rated No. 100. Ole Miss is 4-6 against top-100 RPI teams this season, with wins over LSU, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri and Vanderbilt. Ole Miss recently picked up its first top-50 RPI win against Missouri.

Significant home games against SEC top-tier mainstays Kentucky and Florida follow Georgia. But for those games to mean anything as far the NCAA tournament goes, Kennedy said, the Rebels need a win in Athens.

"Next week's games really don't have the significance if we don't find a way to grind through some of these," he said. "We've got to win games. Saturday's the next opportunity to do that."


Scouting Georgia:
(Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations)

Georgia has won three-straight SEC games and is tied with Ole Miss for third in the league standings after 11 games. UGA started the season 1-4 but have won 12 of its last 18 games. Georgia is 5-4 versus common opponents this season, while the Rebels are 8-3. Mann leads the Bulldogs averaging 13.7 ppg, while Gaines is close behind at 11.6 ppg. Thornton leads the team pulling down 5.9 rebounds/game. Georgia leads the SEC in rebounding offense in league games at 39.5 boards/games and is allowing just 32.8 rebounds/game to opponents. The Bulldogs do rank next to last in the league in turnover margin at -2.7.


Charles Mann
File Photo

Saturday's game is the 108th meeting between the two schools, with Georgia holding a 66-41 lead in the series (UGA lists its lead as 64-41, with wins in 2002 and 2003 vacated due to NCAA sanctions). Ole Miss has prevailed in seven of the last 10 meetings, including last year's 84-74 overtime win in Oxford. The Bulldogs lead 37-12 in games played in Athens, but Ole Miss has won each of the last three meetings at Stegeman Coliseum (76-62 in 2008, 80-76 in 2010, 66-63 in 2012). Andy Kennedy owns a 6-2 record against UGA.


Leftovers:
(Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations)

* Like most college teams, Ole Miss fares better at home (5-0) than on the road (2-4) in conference play. The Rebels shoot better from the field (.453 at home /.388 on road) and from 3-point (.419 at home /.317 on road) at home and rebound the ball better with a -6.0 rebound margin on the road and an even rebounding margin at home. Ole Miss is scoring more points at home in league games (80.2) than on the road (68.0). Junior F Aaron Jones is posting 10.2 ppg and 9.0 rpg in conference home games and just 3.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg in league road games, while freshman F Sebastian Saiz averaging 7.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg in home SEC games and just 3.8 ppg and 4.2 rpg in road games.

* Ole Miss is 7-4 in the SEC and sits in third place in the league standings after being projected to finish seventh in the preseason media poll. The Rebels are 27-11 (.711 winning percentage) over its last 38 games versus SEC opponents dating back to 2012, which is the best mark in school history. It is also the third-best mark in the league over that time, two games behind Florida and one game behind Kentucky. Ole Miss also tied last year's squad and the 1937-38 team with a school record 6-2 start to SEC play.

* Ole Miss is 14-6 this season when committing 15 or fewer turnovers and just 2-2 when turning the ball over more than 15 times. The Rebels rank second in the SEC, and are tied for 26th in the nation, in turnover margin at +2.9.




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