By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Ole Miss and Mississippi State enter the second week of SEC play riding high and sitting atop the league standings.
Both teams are 2-0 in the SEC, tying them for first place with three other teams. It’s still early, of course, but the Rebels and Bulldogs have good reason to feel good about what they accomplished Saturday.
Ole Miss, 13-2 overall, won its fifth consecutive game with a dominating 64-49 win over No. 10 Missouri. MSU (7-7), meanwhile, scored its first road victory of the season, taking down Georgia 72-61.
“It is like we finally got a monkey off our backs,” Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. “Being able to get that road win in the first conference road game makes it even sweeter.”
It’s been a tough season for the injury-plagued Bulldogs, but they’ve now won three in a row and should be plenty confident going into Alabama’s home game against Alabama (8 p.m., CSS).
Ole Miss is coming off its biggest win since beating a top-10 Kentucky team two years ago, and it’s a victory that should greatly boost the postseason résumé. The Rebels’ RPI ranking jumped 18 spots to 45th, according to RealTimeRPI.com.
Coach Andy Kennedy said strong defense is what’s gotten his team this far.
“We’ve got good defenders,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got a great shot-blocker, and we’re pretty physical. For us it’s all about approach.”
Up next is a trip to struggling Vanderbilt on Tuesday (8 p.m., ESPNU).
Ole Miss is seeking its first NCAA tournament berth since 2002 and first under Kennedy, who’s in his seventh season at the school. As for MSU, making the tourney is still a long shot.
But this SEC start couldn’t be any better, for either team.