By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss basketball team returns to the friendly confines of the Pavilion this evening as they play host to the LSU Tigers in an SEC showdown. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN 2.
Ole Miss (9-7, 0-3 SEC) is looking for its first conference win of the season as they step onto the court after falling on the road Tuesday to the Florida Gators 71-55.
The Rebels were down two starters in the contest as senior Breein Tyree was out with a back contusion and junior Khadim Sy did not make the trip due to a “coach’s decision.”
“We are trying to get Breein healthy as he was limited (Thursday) in practice,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “I think he is going to try and go but is still having some discomfort in the lower back area. (Sy) is a coach’s decision. I left him based on the actions with our team. It’s a big part in young people is how they respond. We met on Wednesday and he was very, very good. He will be available to play against LSU.”
Against the Gators, sophomore Blake Hinson continued being a consistent scorer as he posted 16 points with 10 boards in the contest.
The mindset of the team right now is to “win, win, win,” Hinson said on Friday.
“We have had two games with double-digit leads in the second half (Texas A&M, Arkansas) and did not hold on. That is just life in the league,” Davis said.
LSU (12-4, 4-0 SEC) comes in as the only remaining unbeaten team in SEC action, following an overtime victory at Texas A&M (Jan. 14). LSU has escaped with victories its last three games with each being decided by four points or less. As a team, the Tigers lead the SEC in field goal percentage (48.4) and rank 13th nationally. They are also 24th in the country in scoring offense, averaging 79.9 ppg.
“You have to give LSU a lot of credit,” Davis said. “That is what league races are and they have found a way to make a lot of really good basketball plays in the last minutes of games. They have won three out of four on last possession.”
Skylar Mays paces the offense with 16.0 ppg, while averaging 2.1 spg on the defensive side of the floor.
“If I had to pick an early MVP, Skylar Mays would be it,” Davis said. “The types of plays he makes impact winning.”
Emmitt Williams adds 13.2 ppg, shooting 62.0 percent from the field (13th nationally). Three other Tigers average double figures to lead the balanced scoring attack: Trendon Watford (13.2 ppg), Darius Days (12.5 ppg) and Javonte Smart (11.2 ppg).
Tonight’s game will be the 211th all-time meeting between the two squads. The Tigers have a 122-88 advantage over Ole Miss. The Rebels have won eight of the last 14 meetings over the Bayou Bengals.
Fans can watch every minute of action on ESPN 2 or listen to the call on the Ole Miss Radio Network.