Kentucky (13-6) at (16) Ole Miss (17-2)
Tuesday, January 29, 9 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UK 10-2, Ole Miss 11-0. Away Record: UK 2-3, Ole Miss 5-1. Neutral Record: UK 1-1, Ole Miss 1-1. Conference Record: UK 4-2, Ole Miss 6-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 99-13.
GAME NOTES: The 16th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels will attempt to continue their reign atop the SEC standings on Tuesday night when they entertain the Kentucky Wildcats at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Kentucky is fresh off a 75-70 home win over LSU on Saturday for its third win in its last four contests to move to 4-2 in SEC play. The defending national champions still have a ways to go to restore their reputation however, as they are just 13-6 overall after beginning the season as the third-ranked team in the country.
Ole Miss is undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises in the nation, and at 17-2 and 6-0 in conference action, it is off to its best start in program history. The Rebels are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the SEC, and although they experienced a scare in their latest game at Auburn, they escaped with a 63-61 victory. They now return to Tad Smith Coliseum, where they are perfect in 11 tries this season.
Kentucky has thoroughly dominated the all-time series over Ole Miss, winning 99 of the 112 matchups.
The Wildcats built a comfortable 11-point halftime lead against LSU over the weekend, and even though they allowed the Tigers to cut their deficit to just one in the final minute, Kentucky was able to hold on for the five-point victory. It shot nearly 52 percent from the floor in the triumph and was led by a career-day from Alex Poythress, who tallied 20 points and 12 rebounds for his first-ever double-double. Archie Goodwin added 15 points, Ryan Harrow netted 11 points, and Nerlens Noels contributed 10 points, eight rebounds, and six blocks.
In addition to posting 10.6 ppg and 9.4 rpg, Noel is one of the premiere defenders in the country, blocking 4.3 shots and swiping 2.4 steals per contest. He has swatted away at least six shots in five straight games. Goodwin leads the team in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and assists (3.2 apg), and Poythress rounds out the fantastic freshmen trio with 13.1 ppg and 6.6 rpg. Kyle Wiltjer (11.3 ppg) and Harrow (10.1 ppg) are also double-digit scorers for UK, which pours in 75.8 ppg, while yielding just 62.0 ppg.
Ole Miss and Auburn spent the majority of the second half on Saturday within one possession of one another, but while the Tigers tied the game with a minute left, the Rebels iced it at the foul line with a pair of game-winning free throws by Marshall Henderson with just six seconds to play. Their saving grace in the triumph was the 3-pointer, as they shot 11-of-24 from long range, with LaDarius White draining all three of his long range buckets for 17 points. Marshall Henderson added 15 points (albeit on just 4-of-15 from the floor), Jarvis Summer chipped in 14 points, and Murphy Holloway grabbed 11 rebounds.
Not only are the Rebels the SEC's top scoring team, but they rank fifth in the nation in putting up 80.3 ppg. Henderson is the most potent scorer in the conference, netting 19.2 ppg thanks in large part to his 74 3-pointers (sixth in the nation). Rounding out the dynamic inside-outside duo is Holloway, who scores 14.8 ppg on 55.6 percent shooting while grabbing a league-high 10.4 rpg. Reginald Buckner (9.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.8 bpg) is also a force to be reckoned with in the paint, while Nick Williams (9.7 ppg) and Summers (8.8 ppg, 3.8 apg) are also consistently effective.
On talent alone, Kentucky can compete with anyone in the nation, and it wouldn't surprise many if it were to suddenly turn the corner late down the stretch, but it has faltered with the spotlight on it this season, and on the road against a very good Rebels team, expect for more of the same in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 80, Kentucky 75
01/29 10:40:12 ET