By Chris Burrows
After a season filled with unpleasant lessons, the past week was a positive experience for the Ole Miss Rebels. Head coach Rob Evans hopes the momentum of consecutive SEC home wins will carry over today.
“We’ve won a couple of games on the road, but not in the SEC,” said Evans, whose Rebels (7-9, 2-5) will have an opportunity at 6:30 p.m. at Tennessee. “It would be a new experience, something our players need to build on.”
Of course, winning on the road in the SEC is never easy. The two SEC victories by Tennessee (9-8, 2-5), Georgia and Auburn, came in Knoxville. The Rebels are 10-31 in previous games on Rocky Top.
“It’s tough. Georgia hasn’t won on the road yet. Mississippi State is having trouble on the road. It’s not just an Ole Miss or a Tennessee problem,” Evans said. “It’s difficult in college basketball to win on the road, but especially in this league.”
The Rebels come in with a season-high level of confidence, fueled by an 82-69 win over Auburn and a 70-63 win over Alabama. Evans has been especially pleased, since the team is dominated by freshmen and sophomores.
“It’s not secret I’m excited about these two classes,” said Evans. “You’re going to have bad days when you’re a young team. But we’re starting to show what these young guys can do when they play well.”
The Rebels are led by freshman guard Keith Carter, who leads the team in scoring at 15.1 points per game. Anthony Boone and Ansu Sesay, a pair of sophomore forwards, lead in rebounding at 6.1 and 5.9 per game, respectively.
The Vols feature one of the SEC’s premier centers, 7-0 Steve Hamer, who is the team’s only starter in double figures at 16.2 points per game.
“He makes it a difficult match up for everybody Tennessee plays,” Evans said. “We aren’t a big team by any means.”