UT-Ole Miss preview

Whereas Vanderbilt may have caught Tennessee at a good time Wednesday night, Ole Miss may be catching the Vols at a bad time today.

Vandy faced a Vol team that was riding high after moving to No. 13 in the Associated Press national poll. The Commodores quickly brought the Big Orange back to earth, leading for much of the game before bowing 69-62.

Junior center Major Wingate believes that little scare will have the Vols a bit more focused against Ole Miss, although their confidence level is still strong.

"I think we're pretty high," he said. "At the same time, being so close with Vanderbilt has just about opened our eyes. Rankings don't mean nothing. Anybody can beat anybody on any day."

The fact Vanderbilt nearly upset Tennessee on its home court reminded the Vols what a thin line separates winning and losing in SEC play. That reminder should serve them well heading into today's 3 p.m. tip-off against the Rebels.

Despite a 15-3 overall record and a 6-1 SEC mark, UT's players know they are far from invincible. Vandy made that point emphatically.

"We're not near where we can be," senior point guard C.J. Watson noted. "We've still got a ways to go … a lot more proving to do."

Ole Miss (13-7, 3-4) should provide a solid test. The Rebels lead the SEC in 3-point field goal defense (31.7 percent) and beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa a month ago.

The star player is 6-8, 290-pound behemoth Dwayne Curtis, who averages 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while shooting a sizzling 58.8 percent from the field.

The Rebels start another brute in 6-8, 245-pound Jeremy Parnell (5.0 points per game). The guards are 6-4 Bam Dayne (10.5 ppg) and 6-1 Todd Abernethy, who averages 9.2 points and shoots 46.1 percent from 3-point range. Rounding out the starting five is 6-6 Londrick Nolen (8.1 points per game).

Like Vandy,Ole Miss is very well coached. Rod Barnes has a career record of 140-100 and needs just five victories to match the school record held by B.L. "Country" Graham.

Today's game will be televised by JP Sports.

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