Rebs have tough road; women play at home

The Ole Miss men's basketball team continued to enjoy its first win of the Southeastern Conference season over the weekend, but that was clearly put on the back burner by Monday. Two of last year's Final Four teams are up next, and both are on the road - at LSU and at defending national champ Florida.

Nobody wants to rule out the possibility of winning the next two games, but it's hard not to feel the Rebels will have a tough time in those two hostile environments against those two programs.

LSU had a rougher than expected time of things against a bottom-tier SEC team at home Saturday, getting past Auburn by just two points, 65-63. That was after the Tigers lost 71-61 on the road at Alabama last week.

Ole Miss played its best game of the SEC season against Arkansas Saturday. The Rebels were much more physical than they'd been in the 74-72 win, and Andy Kennedy said that was by design. The Rebels got it inside more and that opened things up outside even more.

Dwayne Curtis and Kenny Williams were effective on both ends of the court, and Jermey Parnell also contributed. For the Rebels to continue to have a chance this season, the inside guys have to keep stepping up. Kennedy said just that after the loss at Mississippi State a week ago.

The Tigers, ranked 16th this week in the Associated Press poll, are 12-4 overall, just like Ole Miss. In SEC play they are 1-1. The Rebels have played one more SEC game than LSU and are 1-2.

Veterans Glen Davis and Tasmin Mitchell lead the Tigers. The 6-foot-9, 295-pound Davis, who has slimmed up some since last season and gotten in better condition, scores 19 points and grabs 10 rebounds a game. Mitchell, a 6-7, 225-pound forward, scores 14 points a contest with seven boards.

The Tigers have been drawing well this season and last. But when Ole Miss comes to town, that's not unusual. The largest two crowds ever at Pete Maravich Assembly Center were for games against Ole Miss in men's basketball - in 1981 and 1991. As a matter of fact, the Rebels have been a part of four of the top eight crowds at the PMAC over the years. The other two were 1989 and 1995.

On the women's side of things, the Rebels may have been the surprise team of the SEC so far with their 4-0 record. South Carolina is up next in Oxford on Thursday night.

The Rebels lost a game against Texas-Arlington on Dec. 29 in the Tulane tournament and played their worst game of the season that night. Turnovers ruled, and Ole Miss never could get anything going to offset the play of a team with a losing record that it likely should have beaten and would have on most nights.

Since then things have certainly changed. The next night Ole Miss beat Fordham 99-43 and has been on a roll ever since.

The Rebels defeated Nicholls State 87-50 in their last non-conference game of 2006-07 and started SEC play with a 74-66 win at Auburn.

That one may have been the key to things so far as the Rebels came home with confidence and were obviously playing better basketball. Their will to win and their effort was the best it had been all season, and it showed up with three big wins since.

Wins over No. 10 Vanderbilt and No. 5 LSU came at home, followed by Sunday's dramatic 67-65 overtime victory at Kentucky.

If the Rebels can get past South Carolina, then they have an entire week off to be atop league standings at 5-0 before their next game at Georgia on Jan. 25.

The Gamecocks are coming off an impressive 60-point win over Alabama in Columbia. The final score was an almost unbelievable 95-35.

USC is 11-7 overall and 1-2 in league play. But they are fairly close to being 3-0 with a loss at Kentucky (59-55) and a loss at home to Vanderbilt (67-66) prior to the win over Alabama.

The Ole Miss baseball team begins individual workouts today. We still call them four on ones, since the NCAA rules allowed a coach and four players to work together in drills prior to the official start of practice. That comes next Monday.

But as of today, those four on ones, which may actually be more like six players and a couple of coaches working out – whatever the rules now say – begin as the Rebels look toward their season opener Feb. 10 against New Orleans in Oxford.

Men's tennis, ranked sixth in the country, is in New Orleans this weekend for the SEC Indoor Tournament. This is not actually a team event, but each school sends players to participate in the individual singles and doubles format.

The tourney runs Jan. 19-22 at the Hilton's tennis center in downtown New Orleans.

The first regular season match of the spring for men's tennis is at home on Jan. 24 against Murray State at the Gillom Sports Center's indoor courts.

The Lady Rebel tennis team opens its spring season with back to back matches at home – on Jan. 26 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock and on Jan. 27 vs. Winthrop. Those matches are in the Gillom Center as well.

The Lady Rebels were recently picked to finish second in the SEC West behind LSU in a vote of the 12 SEC women's tennis head coaches.

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