GAME NOTES: The Ole Miss Rebels will try to remain hot on Wednesday night when they venture to Thompson-Boling Arena for an SEC clash with the Tennessee Volunteers.
Ole Miss has won four straight games to improve to 14-5 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. The Rebels extended their winning streak on Saturday afternoon at home versus Mississippi State in an easy 82-63 decision, and they have been impressive on the road as well (4-2).
Tennessee has been much more up and down in recent weeks, as it has alternated wins with losses in six straight games since entering SEC play, resulting in a 3-3 league mark. The Vols had the unenviable task of facing nationally-ranked Florida on the road on Saturday, losing 67-41 to dip to 12-7 overall, but they have impressed on their home floor with wins in nine of 11 matchups.
The Vols own a 69-41 advantage in the all-time series with the Rebels, but Ole Miss has had the upper hand of late with three straight wins.
The Rebels had no problems dismissing their intrastate rival over the weekend, as they outshot Mississippi State from the field, 46 percent to 40.7 percent, and won both the rebounding (43-32) and turnover (11-9) battles en route to the 19-point victory. Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers scored 19 points apiece to lead the way, and while Henderson was just 2-of-12 from 3-point range, he made all five of his other field goal attempts. LaDarius White netted 11 points, while Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones collected 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
On the season, Ole Miss shots just 42.9 percent from the field, but thanks in part to its 8.0 3-pointer per game at a 37.3 percent clip, it scores a lofty 78.0 ppg, which is more than enough to mask its lackluster scoring defense (70.4 ppg). Henderson scores 18.7 ppg and his 67 3-pointers are tops in the SEC despite missing three games. Summers (18.0 ppg) is very efficient from the floor (.517), beyond the arc (.550) and the free-throw line (.791), while Jones brings a sturdy presence to the paint with 7.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 2.6 bpg.
The Vols were stifled against the stout Florida defense in their most recent contest, shooting just 26.8 percent from the field, including a dreadful 1- of-19 from 3-point range, on their way to an embarrassing 26-point setback. In what was the team's lowest-scoring output of the season, Jarnell Stokes was the only bright spot with 16 points (on 6-of-9 from the field) and 10 rebounds. Jordan McRae was especially dreadful, making just 1-of-15 attempts from the field.
Tennessee typically doesn't struggle so badly on the offensive end of the floor, shooting 44.2 percent from the field for 73.0 ppg. Paired with a strong shooting attack is an outstanding scoring defense, which yields just 63.5 ppg. McRae's poor performance over the weekend aside, he's still one of the SEC's most dangerous scorers, putting up 18.5 ppg while draining nearly 80 percent of his free-throw tries. Stokes is a nightly double-double threat with 13.6 ppg and 9.7 rpg, while Jeronne Maymon (11.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) joins him in the paint as the other half of one of the conference's most feared frontcourt duos. Josh Richardson (8.4 ppg) and Antonio Barton (8.0 ppg) round out the balanced starting five.
Ole Miss has the hot hand and has performed well on the road, but while Tennessee has been inconsistent in recent weeks, it usually plays great on its home floor. Expect the Vols' advantage in the frontcourt to counteract the Rebels' prowess from beyond the arc.
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