With four of its next five games at home, Mississippi has a chance to get its season back on track. The Rebels, though, will need a better effort against Alabama on Saturday than in the teams’ last meeting in Oxford.
Since defeating LSU and Auburn last month for its first back-to-back road wins in SEC play since 2001, 25th-ranked Mississippi (16-6, 4-4) has dropped two straight. After falling 85-75 at No. 4 Kentucky on Tuesday, Ole Miss will attempt to avoid three consecutive losses for the first time since Jan. 17-24 of last season.
Coach Andy Kennedy has led the team to a 53-9 record in Oxford in his three-plus seasons, so it would seem like a return to C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum would be a perfect remedy for Mississippi’s recent struggles. The Rebels, though, have lost two of three at home after winning their first eight by an average of 23.1 points.
Ole Miss, which needs one victory to surpass last season’s total, will likely be looking for redemption after falling to the visiting Crimson Tide 90-69 on Feb. 28. Alabama led by as many as 30 and snapped an 18-game conference road losing streak.
Mikhail Torrance, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 in that contest, leads the Crimson Tide (13-9, 3-5) with 15.4 points per game.
The senior guard scored 22 and matched a career-high with five 3s as Alabama suffered its third one-point SEC defeat, 66-65 to Florida on Thursday.
Torrance, who averaged 19.0 points on 59.1 percent shooting in two wins against Mississippi last season, missed a layup with 3 seconds remaining, but the Crimson Tide had a chance to win after grabbing the rebound. Alabama, however, failed to get a final shot despite using two timeouts.
“I have to take the blame for that,” coach Anthony Grant said. “We had two opportunities to get the ball in bounds. Florida did a good job of putting pressure on the in-bounds pass, and unfortunately we weren’t able to get it in bounds. That one’s on me. We weren’t able to come out and do what we needed to do to get the win.”
The Crimson Tide have dropped five of seven and will be looking to contain the Rebels’ three-guard attack of Chris Warren, Eniel Polynice and Terrico White.
Alabama gets its first look at Warren since 2008 after he missed both matchups last season with a knee injury. Warren leads the Rebels with 16.6 points per game and needs two points to pass Jack Marshall (1,137) for 23rd all-time at Mississippi.
Polynice is averaging 14.3 points in the last four games while White, a sophomore, averaged 17.0 against Alabama last season.
Rebels freshman forward Reginald Buckner could miss his third consecutive game with a sprained right ankle.
The Crimson Tide, who are 2-3 versus ranked opponents this season, have dropped four straight on the road to Top 25 teams since a 77-73 victory over then-No. 4 Mississippi State on Feb. 21, 2004.
The last time Alabama played in Oxford against a ranked Mississippi team, the then-No. 14 Rebels won 105-71 on March 3, 2001.
Alabama is 114-49 versus Mississippi.