Ole Miss is looking to strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume after beating Missouri

The Ole Miss Rebels have their work cut out for them to get into the NCAA Tournament discussion.

But they took another positive step Tuesday night.

Senior guard Stefan Moody scored 20-plus points (29) for the 21st time this season, and forward Sebastian Saiz tallied his seventh double-double of the season and the ninth of his career with 15 points and 14 rebounds, to lead Ole Miss past Missouri, 85-76. The Rebels outscored the Tigers 40-25 in the second half.

Ole Miss improved to 18-10 overall and 8-7 in Southeastern Conference games. They’ll return to action Saturday at Georgia. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. on the SEC Network.

“We feel right now this is the time for us to make a run,” Ole Miss assistant coach Todd Abernethy said. “Going into Auburn we had five games left. Our goal and expectation is to get to 5-0. We hope to be playing our best basketball going into the SEC tournament.”

Ole Miss would be the No. 7 seed if the SEC tournament (set for March 9-12 in Nashville, Tenn.) started today, and six SEC teams are within three games of first place in the conference with three games remaining in the regular season.

Ole Miss will attempt to strengthen its postseason resume and build its case for the NCAA Tournament in the next few weeks, and the Rebels are less concerned with quantity of wins than quality at this point. 

The NCAA Tournament selection committee relies heavily on Rating Percentage Index, a measure of strength of schedule and how a team performs against its schedule. Though the Rebels have just one sub-100 RPI loss, according to KenPom.com, their meager two top-100 wins likely wouldn’t be enough when weighed against other postseason resumes.

The Rebels entered Tuesday night with an RPI rank of 86 and a strength of schedule of 116. Their lone top-100 RPI opportunity remaining is Georgia, and the Bulldogs boast an RPI rank of 79. No other remaining opponent has an RPI better than 120. Ole Miss is 1-6 vs. the RPI top-50.

“Quality wins are huge for making the NCAA Tournament,” Abernethy said. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities. But the great thing is we don’t think our goals are out of reach. If we take care of our business and go into the (SEC) tournament with at least 20 wins, we’re a quality win away - or two quality wins away - from reaching our goals. We feel if we’re playing our best basketball in Nashville, we can beat anybody.” 

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