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Ole Miss loses two to injury with ranked opponents looming

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Ole Miss might have experienced the worst 24 hours of its season Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon when it announced two key reserves suffered serious injuries during a loss to Kentucky.

Sophomore big man Aaron Jones suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season and senior guard Nick Williams is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Those losses will undoubtedly put more pressure on mercurial Marshall Henderson, who leads the SEC in scoring and controversy.

The No. 16 Rebels had been riding high prior to the Kentucky game. They were off to the best start in the program's history at 17-2 and had won nine straight. The loss to the Wildcats was the first home loss of the season (11-1). The only negatives before playing the Wildcats were the two losses to Indiana State and Middle Tennessee State and dealing with the occasional emotional outbursts from Henderson.

Williams and Jones have played in all 20 games for the Rebels this season. Williams scored two points and played 13 minutes and Jones scored four points with eight rebounds in 21 minutes in the loss to the Wildcats.

They are two of the Rebels' top eight scorers and regular parts of the rotation. Williams is the fourth leading scorer averaging 9.4 points a game. Jones was averaging 17 minutes a game and was the team's third leading rebounder when his season ended. The program already was playing without junior big man Demarco Cox, who is dealing with stress fractures.

It's never a good time to lose anyone to injury, but it is particularly bad timing for the Rebels who face two top-25 teams – No. 4 Florida and No. 17 Missouri – in the next three games. Sandwiched between those games is a battle with in-state rival Mississippi State.

Ole Miss already beat Missouri earlier in the season, but that was with Williams and Jones in the lineup. Williams played 26 minutes in that victory and Jones was on the floor for 16 minutes.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleRingo

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