Injury-depleted Ole Miss will look to get back on the winning track Tuesday night when the Rebels host up-and-down Missouri in a Southeastern Conference game in Oxford, Miss.
The Rebels (9-7, 1-3 SEC) dropped their past two games against Texas AM and Auburn. Likewise, the Tigers (7-9, 1-3) alsohave lost two in a row, but neither team has yet to lose three straight games this season.
Mississippi hopes to repeat and build upon the strong offensive performance it showed in the first half against Auburn, which moved up to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 on Monday. The Rebels raced to a 35-22 lead with 7:25 left in the half before the Tigers took over.
"I'm proud of our team," Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. "I thought in that first 18 and a half minutes when we led by 12 or 13, how physical we played, how we guarded. We ran a really crisp offense against a really good defensive team."
The trick will be in sustaining such a performance. The Rebels clicked despite missing leading scorer Jarkel Joiner (13.6 points per game), who will miss the bulk of conference play with a back injury.
They also lost another guard, Austin Crowley, to an ankle injury in the first half against Auburn.
Tye Fagan scored 17 points off the bench for Ole Miss in the 80-71 loss.
"Nobody cares who's out," Davis said. "Nobody cares and I said we just got to go back and we try to get our team to play (to) the best of its ability with the guys that we have."
Missouri would like to replicate its first-half defensive effort against Texas AM on Saturday, when the Tigers led the Aggies 34-24 at the break.
But after limiting Texas AM to 26.5-percent shooting in the first half, they allowed the Aggies to shoot 51.7 percent in the second half and lost 67-64.
"You have to carry those assignments out from start to finish," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Even if they make a shot somewhere, stick to the assignment in our ball-screen coverage.
"You can't allow the guy to turn the corner and get to the rim. You've got to stop the ball and allow your backside guys to help you. I thought we were passive with our big guys on that coverage."
After scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Missouri's 92-86 upset of Alabama on Jan. 8, Tigers forward Kobe Brown produced just 13 total points in losses to Arkansas and Texas AM.
On the other hand, guard Jarron Coleman has picked up his production with 69 points in his past five games after scoring just 34 in his previous five.
--Field Level Media