Ole Miss Basketball: Rebels Need to Win All the Winnable Games

The key for the Ole Miss Rebels’ basketball team getting into the NCAA tournament is winning the games their supposed to win. They must win the winnable games.

The Ole Miss Rebels began their SEC season with games against the two best teams in the conference. They lost a game against the Kentucky Wildcats at The Pavilion. Then they proceeded to travel to Gainesville, FL. and lost to the Florida Gators. Both games were not considered by most as legitimately winnable games.

However, if Coach Andy Kennedy and the Rebels hope to return to the NCAA tournament they will have to not only pull out an upset or two, but they have to win the games they are supposed to win. Losing game against teams with lower RPI rankings will stymie Ole Miss’ chance for the post season.

On January 28th, the Rebels will face the current number two RPI ranked team, the Baylor Bears. This will be a major test for the team. Therefore before they face that challenge, they need to make sure they win all the winnable games before that matchup.

Fortunately for Ole Miss, every game between now and Baylor are winnable games. The teams they face are teams the should beat. Currently, Ole Miss is ranked 47. They will face two teams that are near them in the RPI. However, they will face four teams that are further down the poll. They can not afford to have any bad losses on their resume.

Dec 29, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Yante Maten (1) reacts after missing a shot against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn

The first winnable game that the Rebels will face will be on January 7th against Auburn. Currently, the Tigers are ranked 85 in the RPI. At the time of this post, they were 10-4 (0-2). In those four losses was a bad defeat to Boston College who is ranked 194.

Ole Miss should be able to go into Auburn and walk away with a win. The Tigers come into this matchup being led by two dynamic freshmen. Mustapha Heron and Danjel Purifory have been player great basketball this year.

Heron leads the team in both scoring and rebounds. He puts up 15.9 ppg and 6.4 rpg. However his fellow freshman is right behind him in both categories. Purifory adds 14.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Even with that kind of output, the Rebels is expected to walk away with the victory.

Georgia

Ole Miss will face one of the best players in the SEC when they take on Georgia. Junior Yante Maten is a dynamic basketball player. He is second in the SEC in scoring at 20.4 ppg. He is also third in the league in rebounding at 8.4 rpg.

Maten, along with J.J. Frazier, lead this 45th ranked Bulldog team. They don’t have terrible loss, however they don’t have any great wins either. Beating Ole Miss would be their best win of the year. The Rebels can’t afford a loss at home.

Maten will make this game a true test for the Rebels. However, this game is certainly a winnable one at The Pavilion.

Dec 17, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard PJ Dozier (15) drives to the basket as South Florida Bulls forward Bo Zeigler (35) defends during the second half at USF Sun Dome. South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the South Florida Bulls 77-66. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina

One of the most dangerous teams in the SEC is the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks are ranked 39 in the RPI. They currently have a record of 11-3 (1-0). Ole Miss doesn’t have to face them until January 14th, however, this will be a big game for the Rebels at home.

South Carolina leading scorer is PJ Dozier with 15.9 ppg. However, he is not the only weapon on this team. Duane Notice is averaging 9.4 ppg, while Chris Silva puts in 9.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

This team has some good wins over teams like Syracuse and Michigan, but they also have suffered a loss to Memphis. The Rebels defeated Memphis 85-77 on December 3rd.

When the Gamecocks are on their game defensively they can make it difficult for teams to score. However, the Rebels have enough weapons on the inside and outside to bring on the victory.

Tennessee

The Volunteers are a team searching for a good win. With an RPI ranking of 74, they need a good run through the SEC to make post season play. At 8-6 (1-1), Tennessee has a few quality losses. They barely lost to North Carolina and Oregon. They had tough games against Gonzaga and Oregon. However, they have no impressive win.

They are led by Robert Hubbs III with 15.2 ppg. and Grant Williams with 10.8 ppg and 5.9 rpg. These are the games Ole Miss historically found a way to lose. If they want to take the next step, they need to find a way to pull out this victory at home.

Dec 17, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies center Tyler Davis (34) reacts after a play during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri

NC Central, E. Illinois and Lipscomb were some of the teams that went to Missouri and walked away with a victory. The Tigers are clearly the worst team in the SEC. Their 5-8 (0-1) record is the only losing record in the conference.

Missouri is ranked a pitiful 262 in the RPI. This makes this game a must-win for Ole Miss. They can not afford to go to Columbia and lose. The hit their resume would take with a loss to Missouri would be a key reason to keep them out of the field of 68. It will be hard to argue against it.

Texas A&M

The Aggies are a difficult team to figure out. They are ranked 101 in the RPI, however, the eye test says they are a better team. The Texas A&M Aggies have a record of 8-5 (0-2) with their worst loss on the schedule being a defeat to Tennessee at home.

They have beaten all the teams they should have defeated. But they do not have a signature win against a highly rated team. They appear to have the fire power to beat some of the better teams in the conference.

Center Tyler Davis is a beast in the middle. He is averaging 14.2 ppg. and 7.3 rpg. He has the best field goal percentage in the SEC. Admon Gilder and DJ Hogg both are averaging 12.5 ppg. This makes for a formidable three-headed monster. They are hungry for another key win. Ole Miss needs to avoid being their next big win.

Ole Miss has six games before the game against Baylor. All of these games are winnable. Therefore the Rebels need to find a way to win these games.

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