They are a win away from being 8-8 in the SEC. It will obviously be a tough game against the arch-rival on Saturday in Oxford. Ole Miss-MSU will be a war.
But who would have thought two months ago, heck maybe even two days ago given David Huertas' foot situation, that they'd be sitting at 7-8 and hoping to close out a league season that can best be described as, well, amazing?
Who? Who thought that?
They scored 98 points at Arkansas Wednesday night and won by seven. Yes, it was in overtime, but still they scored 84 points in regulation on the road in a hostile environment, against a team that was coming off a win at home and feeling better about itself.
And they did it without Chris Warren. Without Eniel Polynice. Without Trevor Gaskins. Without Huertas.
These players – and these coaches – do not understand the meaning of "can't do." Only can do. And they go to work every day to get it done – again.
The players just step up. The next guy just steps up.
At Fayetteville, Will Bogan. The freshman stepped up and fired assist after assist, scored when the Rebels needed a big basket, and made this season even more head-shaking than it already was.
The Idahoan was 5-8 from the floor, scored 16 points and dished out seven assists. How far has he come since November?
Terrico White. Had 29 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals, two assists and only three turnovers in 43 minutes. No doubt the SEC Freshman of the Year. Hopefully the voters will prove they know how to vote. No player is more deserving.
Murphy Holloway. Double-double – 11 points, 10 rebounds. A star in the making.
Zach Graham. Scores 20 points, with four boards and four assists. No telling the pain he's in, but he refuses to let that stop him. He has to help this team, and he goes out and gives it his all every time.
Malcolm White. Most improved player on the team? Why not? Against the Hogs eight points, eight rebounds.
DeAundre Cranston. Didn't miss a shot of any kind all night – 3-3 from the field, including 1-1 from 3-point range; 2-2 from the line.
Terrance Henry. Started the game. Played a load of minutes and had six big rebounds as Ole Miss won the battle of the boards 46-36.
And that was it. No others played for the Rebs. Just those seven.
Two sophomores, a JUCO junior, and four freshmen.
Don't talk to me about the future. It's too much fun right now watching the "future" unfold before us.
Andy Kennedy talks about playing kids "heavy minutes." With a depleted roster, that was going to be the case.
At Arkansas, Cranston's 24 minutes were the least for any Rebel.
So what's left in the tank? That was our question this week after they looked weary against Alabama at home last weekend.
They'll get a little bit of a break between Saturday night and next Thursday when they tip off in the SEC tourney. But there's one more order of business to take care of before then.
These Rebels won their first of two SEC road games back on the last day of January in Starkville. Some heads were turning by then. Some eyebrows were raising after that one.
And now they have a shot to complete what should be considered one amazing regular season.
At 16-13 overall and a game under .500 in the league, they aren't getting a lot of national pub. Teams with records like that don't.
Unless they were supposed to win 20-something games and make the NCAA Tournament and compete for a conference title. Then they'd get unwelcomed pub at 16-13.
Maybe that was this Ole Miss team, if they'd stayed healthy, that is. All things considered, maybe this Rebel team was supposed to be a 20-something winner and headed for the NCAA tourney already.
Now at 16-13 and 7-8, they're without four players currently who would have been a huge part of the every day life of this team. Hopefully Huertas will be ready for State.
What would this team have been had everybody stayed healthy these last three months? We'll never know.
We can only imagine – and enjoy the rest of the story of this noteworthy season.
Ole Tad Smith ought to be rockin' come 4 p.m. on Saturday.
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