Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First SEC Match

It will be the first SEC match of the season tomorrow as the REbels open up on the road to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.(The Rebels have opened up SEC play on the road 8 of the past 10 seasons, Rod Barnes always complained about this)The Vols are ranked number 8 and have only one game this year. They are a very talented team and could be the best in the SEC this year. Their coach Bruce Pearl is a nut and wierdo but he has done good things with that program.

The Rebels are off to the best start in school history. Andy Kennedy's team has impressed alot of people thus far this year and surprised alot of their critics. Many skeptics have questioned the Rebels weaker opponents as to why their record is so good. Well this game will give us a good look at to how the Rebels will match up in the SEC.

UT could be the toughest matchup the Rebels face all season. The SEC is a different league from these other non conference teams they have played. Going on the road in front of 20,000+ will be a true test. Freshman Chris Warren has led this team throughout non conference play and it should be a heck of an adjustment for him to play in front of this many people not to mention the talent that UT has.

I see this being a good game. However in the long run I think the Vols will pull this one out. Several factors will lead to this: inexperience, being on the road, possible cold spell, etc. Don't get me wrong I love this team and I love they are being put to the test early. As several have put it, this is the most nervous I have been for an Ole Miss basketball game in a long time if not ever.

UMAA Notes
The undefeated 15th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels and one-loss 8th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers get SEC play started in a big way with a Wednesday night showdown in Knoxville, Tenn.
Ole Miss has already set school records for best start in a season and longest winning streak. The Rebels will look to knock off their second top-25 ranked foe of the year after beating then-No. 15 Clemson on Dec. 22 in Puerto Rico.
Tennessee, the preseason favorite to capture the SEC title, has just one blemish on its record, a Nov. 24 loss to then-No. 15 Texas in New Jersey.

The preseason favorite by every major media outlet to claim the 2008 conference crown, 8th-ranked Tennessee had a very successful non-conference season with 12 wins and a single loss vs. then-No. 15 Texas at the StubHub Legends Classic in Newark, N.J. In their last two games, the Vols won 82-75 at then-No. 24 Xavier and 82-72 over Gonzaga in Seattle, Wash. Last year’s SEC Player of the Year and second team All-American Chris Lofton leads the Vols with 14.5 ppg, followed closely by fellow senior JaJuan Smith at 14.4 ppg. Arizona transfer J.P. Prince (14.0 ppg in 4 games) and Iowa transfer Tyler Smith (12.9 ppg) also average in double figures. As a team, Tennessee leads the SEC with 87.4 points per contest, with a fierce defensive pressure creating an average of 22.3 turnovers off an SEC-best 12.2 steals per game.

Ole Miss overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to claim an 83-69 win over the Vols last year in Oxford. Clarence Sanders scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, while Dwayne Curtis added 18 points and nine boards (see full box score on page 7). Despite the victory, Tennessee owns a 63-38 lead in the all-time series, which began in 1924. The two teams are 4-4 over the last eight meetings. The Vols enjoy a 39-18 all-time edge in Knoxville and have won eight straight. Ole Miss earned its last victory there in 1991.