Behind Enemy Lines: Auburn-Ole Miss preview with David Eckert of The Clarion-Ledger

After earning a convincing 72-59 win over No. 13 Arkansas last Saturday, the No. 20 Auburn Tigers now turn their focus to the Ole Miss Rebels.

Auburn travels to Oxford to take on the Rebels Tuesday night at 8 p.m. CT at the Pavillion at Ole Miss. Auburn looks to win its first SEC game on the road, while the Rebels hope to earn its first conference win in general.

Ole Miss lost to archrival Mississippi State, 64-54 last Saturday. Matthew Murrell and Jaemyn Brakefield performed well offensively for the Rebels, but as a team, Ole Miss shot 35.8% from the field and was out-rebounded by Mississippi State, 43-32.

To help us learn more about Auburn Basketball’s next opponent, we welcome Ole Miss beat writer David Eckert from The Clarion-Ledger to the next installment of “Behind Enemy Lines.”

In today’s edition of the series, Eckert breaks down Ole Miss’ last game, players that Auburn fans should be aware of, and his final score prediction. Here is today’s “Behind Enemy Lines” with David Eckert of The Clarion-Ledger.

Getting to know Ole Miss

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Ole Miss enters Tuesday’s game with an 8-7 record and is looking for its first SEC win. What is the overall mood on campus when it comes to the Rebels season to this point?

It’s not good, that’s for sure. Quite a lot of frustration. Maybe even more apathy. The Rebels just haven’t really done very much to generate excitement. They started the season pretty well, but they haven’t beaten anyone of particular consequence, outside of an FAU team that looks like it might win Conference USA. It’s going to take more than one big win to draw folks back in.

Feeling the bite

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Ole Miss fell to rival Mississippi State last Saturday, 64-54, despite making solid second-half adjustments. In what ways did the Rebels improve their game plan in the second half of the game?

The one thing Ole Miss will do to its opposition to make things tough is provide multiple looks on defense. Much of the run the Rebels went on in the early second half on Saturday resulted from Mississippi State’s inability to score. It’s worth noting, though, that once the Bulldogs got their sea legs back, they exploded, and Ole Miss totally folded.

Keep an eye on Matthew Murrell

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Guard Matthew Murrell leads Ole Miss in several stat categories… what makes him so special, and how much will Ole Miss rely on him for points on Tuesday?

Matthew Murrell is just a really talented scorer. He can beat you from outside. He can play above the rim. He’s an explosive athlete that can change games if he gets hot. One of Ole Miss’ big problems is that hasn’t happened very much lately. He was good against Mississippi State, but didn’t crack double digits in either of the Rebels’ first two SEC games. They’re not going to win games unless he’s a big factor, period.

Pump the brakes

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Outside of Murrell, which players should Auburn fans have on their radar?

This is difficult, because — especially offensively — Ole Miss just hasn’t gotten very much from its supporting cast. Jaemyn Brakefield is probably the Rebels’ closest thing to a secondary scorer. He’s averaging 14 points per game in SEC play. The Rebels are still trying to get Daeshun Ruffin going after he returned from a prolonged knee injury in November. Amaree Abram is a guy who can catch fire at guard on occasion, but he’ll probably come off the bench.

Ole Miss' strength

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Auburn is still trying to solidify an offensive identity. How strong have the Rebels performed defensively this season?

They’ve been pretty good, but not outstanding by any means. They’ve allowed 70 points just once in their last five games. Ole Miss has a lot of length and athleticism that plays well on the defensive side of things. The other end of the court has been their problem.

Searching for their first SEC win

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What will Ole Miss need to do well in order to grab the win over Auburn?

It probably has to make this game a rock fight. Auburn has way more offensive talent, and the Rebels are mired in a scoring slump that has made them really, really hard to watch lately. Ole Miss turned its SEC opener against Tennessee into something of a coin flip by just making it into a brawl. That’s probably what this game has to be.

The Tigers keep it going

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What is your final score prediction?

Auburn 61, Ole Miss 56. The Rebels haven’t shown me anything to indicate that they’re going to get a win against a team like Auburn any time soon. Kermit Davis said after the Mississippi State loss that they lacked toughness. If you can’t score, and you can’t out-tough the opposition, where’s the path to victory? We love college basketball because it’s unpredictable, but all of the tea leaves are pointing toward an Auburn win here.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire