Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gut Check

It is gut check time for the Ole Miss men's basketball team as the Vanderbilt Commodores come to Oxford tomorrow night. This game is a must if the Rebels want to continue to be contenders in the SEC race and gain attention with the national media. Ole Miss comes into the game with a two game losing streak and losing record in the SEC.

In order for the Rebels to get going, they are going to need better production from the whole team, but mainly the guards. Chris Warren is still averaging in double figures and playing well, but he is not bringing the same punch he brought to the game early on in the season. I feel like Warren has had enough games in the SEC that it is time for him to settle down and get back to his style of play. The other place the Rebels have received very little production has been the 2 guard. We all know how terrible Huertas has been. The guy can't throw it in the ocean right now and is the talk among most of the fan base. Eniel Polynice is getting some great breaks and scoring that way, but isn't pulling up and shooting the way he should. On another note the big guys have to control their fouls. With Parnell out they have to play smarter ball.

Some will argue if the Rebels lose this game it is not the end all, however I think it is. With a road loss at Auburn(one the Rebels should have never lossed), they can not afford to lose a home game and must win against a big time opponent like Vandy. It is put out or shut up time for AK's team.

(UMAA Notes)
REBELS RETURN TO OXFORD, FACE VANDY After two straight losses to SEC West foes on the road, No. 22 Ole Miss returns to the friendly confines of Tad Smith Coliseum for a top-25 battle against the 18th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. The Rebels are 9-0 this year at home and 25-1 in Oxford since Andy Kennedy took the helm last season. Mississippi State held the Rebels to a season-low 68 points in Saturday’s loss, while the Bulldogs also scored the most points against the Rebels this season with 88. Dwayne Curtis still managed to post his ninth double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. It was the senior’s fifth double-double in the last six games. Curtis enters Wednesday’s tilt 17 points shy of 1,000 for his Rebel career. Ole Miss holds a 27-21 advantage over the ‘Dores all-time in Oxford.
SCOUTING THE COMMODORES After getting off to a school-record 16-0 start, Vanderbilt has had a tough time on the road in conference play, losing each of its three away contests to drop three of the last four overall. Vanderbilt has beaten South Carolina and LSU in Nashville, but lost at Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida. The 17-3 ‘Dores still rank among the nation’s leaders with 83.9 points per game, but average 73.8 points in league tilts. The sensational one-two punch of senior Shan Foster (19.5 ppg) and freshman A.J. Ogilvy (18.1 ppg) has carried Vanderbilt throughout the season. Foster has earned three SEC Player of the Week honors this season, while Ogilvy is a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week. In the most recent NCAA stats, VU ranks among the nation’s top 25 teams in 3-point pct. (4th), assists (5th), and 3-pointers per game (22nd).
OLE MISS-VANDERBILT SERIES Wednesday’s game will be the 108th meeting between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the hardwood. The Commodores hold a 69-38 lead in the series, which began in 1925. Vanderbilt has taken six straight in the series, including last year’s 85-80 encounter in Nashville (see page 7). Ole Miss enjoys a 27-21 advantage in games played in Oxford. The ‘Dores had dropped eight straight at Tad Smith Coliseum before a 77-65 victory in 2004 and a 77-62 win in 2006. Rebel head coach Andy Kennedy is 1-1 against Vandy in his career, picking up a 92-83 victory at Vanderbilt during the 2005-06 campaign, his lone season as Cincinnati mentor.
HOLDING COURT The Ole Miss-Vanderbilt series has been all about location in recent years. In fact, the home team has prevailed in 18 of the last 21 meetings. From 1989 through 2000, the home team held court in 14 straight games.