Rebs host Presbyterian College tonight

When Ole Miss signed up Presbyterian College last summer to replace New Orleans, who postponed for a year hosting the Rebels because Lakefront Arena is still under reconstruction after Katrina, few knew how important the game might be to this Rebel team.

After losing four of their last five games, it could be just what the Rebs need. At 4-22, the Blue Hose, as they are called, should fall into the breather category for Ole Miss. But the Rebels can't afford to be caught napping, not when they are not only trying to find a win but find themselves again.

There were bright spots in the loss at Arkansas after the Rebels fell behind 16-2 early. That they were able to come all the way back and have a chance, losing 75-69, was noteworthy.

But these Rebels still aren't playing the complete game they must to win on the road. They aren't making enough free throws, defensively they are improving but there are lapses, and at least a handful of their shots weren't of the best selection variety.

But they'll get a chance to right much of that tonight against a PC team that has four home wins and 22 road losses in its first year of Division I basketball. Needless to say, a win over Ole Miss would be the biggest in school history. It likely won't happen, but the Rebels need to start strong in this one, play well, and get some confidence back before heading to Tuscaloosa for a midweek game.

These Rebels, as much as anything right now, need to regain some of that confidence and swagger they had before the first of the new year. There was some question as to how they would handle that first loss after a 13-0 school-record start. The question now is how will they handle four losses in their last five games with a very winnable non-conference game up tonight. And then how will they perform in a road game that has become almost "must" if they are to get a couple of SEC wins away from Tad Smith.

Heading to Alabama 17-5 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference play would mean that a victory there, with Auburn at home Saturday, and they're back in decent shape. A loss to the Crimson Tide, and at 3-6 things won't appear nearly as promising.

Some of it may just have to do with this team's psyche'. As much as the Rebels need two wins in the next three days for the victories alone, they need them for their mental state just as much. It's a crucial time in the big picture for this Rebel team.

The Rebs are undefeated in non-conference play this year at 13-0 and with a win tonight could become just the second Ole Miss men's basketball team ever to finish without a loss to a non-league foe in the regular season (the 1948-49 squad went 4-0).

Ole Miss will be the third SEC opponent of the year for the Blue Hose, joining Auburn and Georgia. Presbyterian has also played four teams from the ACC and one each from the Big 12 and Big Ten.

But the Hose have been competitive. PC has lost just one of those games against what might be referred to as "BCS" conference teams by more than 20 points (87-43 at Ohio State).

They probably won't be looking past the Rebels to their next game. Up next for PC is Carver Bible College on Saturday at home.

The Presbyterian offense has struggled to 58.2 points per game, but a gritty defense allows just 66.5 ppg. Al'lonzo Coleman and Pat Kiscaden top the squad with 10.7 and 10.2 ppg, respectively. Coleman also leads the team in rebounds (5.1), blocks (.54) and steals (2.1) Bryan Bostic chips in 9.8 points per contest.

The Rebels and Blue Hose have played five common opponents this year in New Mexico, Clemson, Central Florida, Winthrop and Auburn. Ole Miss has a 4-1 record to date against those foes, while PC is 0-5 in those games.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at Tad Smith Coliseum There's a live webcast at

David Kellum, play-by-play, and Pete Cordelli, color analyst, will have the game live on the Ole Miss radio network.

On XM radio, the game can be heard live on Channel 199.

OM Spirit Top Stories