Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - The top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats and Ole Miss Rebels get their SEC slates underway on Tuesday evening, as they face off against one another at Rupp Arena.
John Calipari's Wildcats have been idle since their showdown with arch-rival Louisville on Dec. 27. Kentucky was able to keep the Cardinals at bay and move to 13-0 on the season with a 58-50 victory.
Andy Kennedy's Rebels had a strong non-conference run this year as well. Ole Miss enters league play with a 9-4 overall record and has won three of its last four games. The Rebels closed out non-conference play on Saturday with a 92-63 rout of Austin Peay.
Kentucky has dominated this series and holds a 102-13 advantage all-time. That includes a 48-2 edge in games played in Lexington. UK has won five straight meetings.
The Rebels put on an offensive show against the Governors this past weekend, as they erupted for 93 points on .548 shooting, which included a sizzling .613 effort in the second half. Four Ole Miss players registered double-digit point totals in the lopsided affair. Jarvis Summers led the way with 18 points. Stefan Moody poured in 14, while Dwight Coleby and Terence Smith came off the bench to add 12 and 10 points, respectively. Ole Miss' bench was responsible for 39 points in the win. Ole Miss outrebounded APSU 41-30 and doubled up on the Governors by outscoring them in the paint, 40-20.
The scoring total against Austin Peay was the highest on the season for the Rebels, who have modest numbers at that end of the floor on the year. Ole Miss comes into league play averaging 73.5 ppg and doing so on a rather bland .438 shooting. Moody leads a trio of Rebels with double-digit scoring averages, as he nets 13.9 ppg. Summers is a close second with 13.5 ppg, followed by LaDarius White's 12.5 ppg.
The Wildcats knew they would be in for a battle against the Cardinals last time out, but Kentucky was able to hang on and remain undefeated. Still, it was the sternest test to date, with Kentucky's string of double-digit victories coming to a close at 12. The Wildcats played their usual stingy defense, holding Louisville to a meager .259 shooting, but were unable to distance themselves from the Cardinals. Freshman Tyler Ulis led the team in scoring, netting 14 points off the bench. Fellow freshman Karl-Anthony Towns just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. However, there was little scoring support from the rest of the lineup in a hard-fought contest.
It has been stifling defense which has fueled Kentucky's run thus far. Despite the overall youth on the roster, the Wildcats have taken great pride in their defensive effort, ranking among the nation's best in both scoring defense (47.8 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.297). The team also lives comfortably in terms of rebounding (+10.4) and turnover (+4.5) margins and leads the nation in blocked shots (107). Offensively, Kentucky doesn't have any real explosive scorers, but rather a dearth of contributors that results in a steady 75.3 ppg. Aaron Harrison is tops on the team with 10.3 ppg. Willie Cauley-Stein is next at 10.1 ppg, followed by Devin Booker (9.9 ppg), Dakari Johnson (8.3 ppg) and Towns (8.2 ppg).