There's no way to sugarcoat a 32-point loss on your home floor.
To put it lightly, Saturday's showing in Oxford left much to be desired. The energy and intensity displayed in previous games at Florida and against Arkansas were non-existent, with a veteran laden Tiger squad virtually dominating the Rebels in every possible statistical category.
As previously exercised in a blowout loss to Southern Mississippi earlier in the season, head coach Andy Kennedy used a two hour film session to motivate his young squad, requiring each player to compile handwritten notes of their performance.
"It went really well," assistant head coach Michael White said of the Sunday meeting. "It's the second time we've done that. We did it with USM as well, and we bounced back from that one pretty well."
They did indeed.
Following the Golden Eagle embarrassment, Ole Miss returned home to defeat Nicholls 53-41. Another strong performance against the Gators followed, resulting in the team's first conference win against the Razorbacks.
So what went wrong Saturday?
Sophomore Zach Graham could very well hold the answer.
"I wasn't surprised with how we lost," he said. "We maybe forgot that, while we're playing at home, people aren't going to come in here and lay down. Our focus and intensity weren't the same as they have been."
SEC Freshman of the Week Terrico White agreed. Chalk last weekend's showing up to overconfidence.
"I thought we came out ready to play, but it didn't play out that way on the court," said Terrico. "We thought we were going to make all our shots since we were at home. I wish we didn't. That really hurt us."
Now having coughed up an opportunity to go 2-1 in conference play on their own floor, the Rebels will have to steal a victory in unfamiliar territory.
"Our approach wasn't as good as it was going into Arkansas," Coach White said of the LSU debacle. "We may have had a false sense of confidence. Young guys don't understand, but you have to bring that edge every day. I said earlier today, we learned as much from what LSU did right as we did from what we could have done right or could have done better. LSU played really well.
"As much as you tell them, they still have to decide for themselves. If we had made a couple of shots early or not turn it over as much, maybe they figure it out on a run. When you're down early, it's hard to get out of it."
Protecting home turf is critical in the SEC. Road victories are few and far between in today's college basketball landscape and Ole Miss is of no exception.
Last season, the Rebels only victory outside Tad Smith Coliseum came in the final game of the regular season at Georgia. In fact, since 2005, the Rebels have won merely three SEC games away from their home court.
Let's just say, the odds aren't in Ole Miss' favor.
"Coach Kennedy has told us, with away games, you have to come out and play real good," Terrico said. "We can't make any simple mistakes on the road. If we do, the other team will blow us out."
But considering the way in which they lost, Graham said Wednesday's game against the Crimson Tide carries more importance than most.
"No game left on our schedule is going to be easy, whether they be home or away," he said. "Hopefully we learned what can happen when you come out and just play. But you can't be down on one game, because you have another coming up.
"No one was happy Saturday. This is a great opportunity to get at least one win in these next two road games. Their road wins. They're always important."
You got that right.
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