Ole Miss is coming off back to back wins against Kentucky and Mississippi State. With a home game against the Tigers Wednesday night, there could be a chance for some complacency. Some might even call it overconfidence.
The flip side is that for those returning players for the Rebels, the name "Auburn" spells loss. The Tigers beat Ole Miss twice last regular season.
Pinpointing which two games out of the nine SEC regular season losses kept the Rebels out of the NCAA Tournament isn't fair to do. It could have been any of them.
But had they won a couple more for a 9-7 mark in league play, they'd likely have danced into the NCAA tourney instead of the NIT. At 7-9, even with an unblemished non-conference mark of 14-0, the Rebels were considered a long shot for something other than a second-consecutive NIT.
Auburn finished dead last in the SEC West last season at 4-12. The Rebels don't dwell on the past, and a host of role players on this year's team weren't even here then.
"There's no revenge factor," said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. "It's simply another opportunity for us. I always talk about protecting home floor. We have to have a 'protect' mentality. You can't let someone come into your home venue and take away a victory. We've done that once this year (in SEC play)."
It was really more that LSU came in and took the win. Back on Jan. 17, three days after Ole Miss beat Arkansas 74-65 on the Tad Smith Coliseum court, the Tigers rolled from start to finish in an 83-51 victory.
They say they've learned.
"We know we have to come into the game with a good approach," said sophomore guard Zach Graham. "Nobody wants to think about losing. We know if we don't come out and play, then it can happen. (Last year) Auburn beat us at their place and came here and beat us. We're just going out (Wednesday night) to try to win."
"We dropped one there and then we got beat here," junior guard David Huertas said of the two Auburn games last season. "We have to win this time around. To be where we want to be, we have to win a lot more games."
The Tigers have had their ups and downs this season. After an impressive 73-51 road win at Arkansas a week ago and a victory over Texas-Pan American in non-league action last week, Vanderbilt shot lights out and beat the Tigers on the plains 82-75 on Saturday.
That put Auburn at 13-8 overall and only 2-4 in SEC play. But last year should be a lesson to the Rebels that any team can win anywhere at anytime.
Kennedy, his team 12-9 and 3-4, said it's now all about this year.
"We just don't get into any of that, simply because it doesn't have any relevance as it relates to this game," he said concerning the two losses to Auburn last season. "Different set of circumstances, different kids, different style. Everything is different."
Everything, that is, except that it's another home game the Rebels need to win since they want to continue to make some noise as the season moves into February.
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