Texas A&M (21-8, 13-3 SEC) has the great pleasure of sticking around the Magnolia State after falling to Mississippi State (19-10, 7-9 SEC) 69-62 on Saturday afternoon while preparing to take on the Ole Miss Rebels inside The Sandy and John Black Pavilion on Tuesday night with just two games remaining in the regular season.
The Aggies were unsurprisingly led by Wade Taylor IV with 21 points, combined with two 11-point performances from Henry Coleman III and Andersson Garcia, but in one of their worst offensive performances of the season during the bulk of the second half against the Bulldogs, held scoreless from the field for nearly 13 minutes of play, this is as much of a “throw away the tape” game as they’ve experienced all season.
The Ole Miss Rebels are in program flux at the moment, as the firing of former Head coach Kermit Davis after five seasons with the program has inserted interim coach Win Case to take over what is an 11-18 team, positioned at 12th in the SEC at 3-13. Yes, things aren’t going very well in Oxford, Mississippi State, but let’s be honest, Texas A&M didn’t provide a ton of confidence heading into this matchup.
The Rebels have been led by the junior guard and Memphis, Tennessee native Matthew Murrell, who leads the team in scoring with 14.6 ppg, while junior forward Jaemyn Brakefield averages 10.9 ppg and 5.8 rebounds on the season. As a team, Ole Miss is only averaging 67.9 ppg, shooting 42% from the field, 29.4% from three, and 69.3% from the free throw line, ranked 274th in the country in scoring offense.
Defensively, the Rebels are ranking in the top 150 (146th) in scoring defense, allowing 68.9 ppg, one of their more respectable metrics on the season thus far. Compared to Texas A&M after 29 games, the Aggies are scoring 73.7 ppg, 36.8 rebounds, shooting 44% from the field, 33.1% from deep, and 75.6% from the free throw line. After recording his 9th 20-plus point game this season, Wade Taylor IV’s stat line has increased to 16.1 ppg, while shooting 40.7% from the field, and 37% from three in what has been an unforgettable season for the sophomore guard.
How the Aggies respond after their loss to the Bulldogs will say a lot about this team’s postseason readiness, knowing that in order to be taken seriously as a contender in March, taking care of business against a struggling Ole Miss squad is vital to getting things back on track to finish out the regular season on a high note.
Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss is set for Tuesday, Feb. 26th, at 8:00 PM CT. and will air on ESPN U.