Rebels, Tigers to Tangle for Tourney Title

HOOVER, Ala. - The last time Ole Miss and LSU faced off in the SEC Tournament, the Rebels torched the Tigers 12-1 and went on to win the 2006 conference title. At 3 p.m. Sunday, one of the two teams will hoist the trophy two years later.

Ole Miss (37-23) survived Vanderbilt Saturday night to clinch its spot in the finals. LSU (42-16-1) hasn't been forced to survive anything, expect for maybe the routine feeling of victory. The Tigers, winners of 19 straight games, haven't been defeated since a week after leaving Oxford in the regular season.

The Rebels are 2-1 against the Bayou Bengals this season, but this LSU team is different. They are confident, and they have gotten used to winning.

"We are playing the hottest team in the country," Mike Bianco said. "They haven't lost since April 19, it is now May 24. Wow. That is a long time. We haven't lost in like four hours. It has been four weeks for them. They have a lot of confidence, and it will be a big test."

However, Ole Miss is a big test for any school playing the Rebels in Regions Park. Ole Miss is 13-5 during the Tournament since 2005 and is the only team to reach weekend play four straight years. This is the third finals appearance during that stretch.

Bianco sees that stat as special and not just from a team standpoint. But a program standpoint as well.

"We've been on the final weekend so many times, been to Saturday," the eight-year Rebel coach said. "That means you win at least two games here. It doesn't sound like much but look around. I don't think anybody else has done it. I don't mean that bragging. I am proud of the kids for it.

"To be in the championship game of the best conference tournament in the country three of four years, it not only speaks well of this team but that goes back to the Head and Coghlan and Wright days. A lot of special people."

Sophomore southpaw Nathan Baker (3-4, 4.21) will start for Ole Miss against the Tiger right-hander Daniel Bradshaw (4-5, 3.49). Baker last pitched on April 30 against Jackson State, where he allowed one earned run over five innings for the win.

After Baker, Ole Miss has options, but they may not know exactly what they are until close to game time. Lance Lynn may be available for a few innings. Cody Satterwhite, who left Saturday's first game with a stomach ailment, is also in the mix if his sickness improves.

Scott Bittle and Justin Cryer are also going to test their arms when the team gets to the park. Bianco didn't rule anyone out for the championship contest.

"We will talk to everybody in the morning and see how they feel," Bianco said. "Lynn messed up the chart and made it look like he (Cryer) threw 40 pitches. It will be like an exaggerated Sunday. We've got enough, just have to piece it together."

The last three years in the SEC Tournament Finals:

2007: Vanderbilt defeated Arkansas

2006: Ole Miss defeated Vanderbilt

2005: Mississippi State defeated Ole Miss

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