By Chris Burrows
Before the season began, in the SEC Media Days, Alabama head coach David Hobbs made a prediction.
“You guys are going to laugh at me, but I’m telling you, Ole Miss isn’t going to finish last in this league,” said Hobbs, who probably wishes he hadn’t been correct. His Crimson Tide (15-10, 8-7) hosts the Rebels (12-13, 6-9) at 2 p.m. today in the regular season finale for both teams.
Alabama still has hopes of being the division champion and the No. 1 seed from the Western Division. Alabama needs to keep winning to make the NCAA Tournament.
Ole Miss still has hopes of finishing at the .500 mark. Ole Miss wants to win one SEC road game. Ole Miss wants to lock up the No. 4 seed from the Western Division the highest seed since the SEC went to the division format.
“It’s big for both of us, but for different reasons,” Evans said. “For us, accomplishing one of our goals (an SEC road win) before we go into the tournament would be a tremendous boost to our program.”
The Rebels have gone 7-4 over the past 11 starts with a lineup dominated by freshmen and sophomores. Only Evans and Hobbs maintained in the preseason that the Rebels were on the rise.
“I’m not surprised at all at what Ole Miss has done over the last month of the season,” Hobbs said. “I could see it coming a year ago and knew if Rob had a good recruiting year, that it would happen this soon. And it has.”
The Crimson Tide, led in scoring by Mississippi native Eric Washington, is coming off a huge road win at Arkansas.
“Alabama hadn’t been able to put it together for a stretch of games, but they put it together at Arkansas,” Evans said. “They have a reputation for being a team that closes the season strong.”
The Rebels figure to be without sophomore forward Anthony Boone, who is listed as questionable after injuring his left knee Wednesday against LSU.