By John L. Pitts and Logan Lowery
The Ole Miss men’s basketball team plays its final game before Christmas this afternoon in Oxford, while Mississippi State opens a two-game stand in Las Vegas tonight.
The Rebels (8-2) take on Mercer (7-4) at 3 p.m. at the Tad Smith Coliseum. The game will be seen on CSS.
The Bulldogs (8-2) meet South Florida (8-2) to open the Las Vegas Classic at 7 p.m.
The game will not be on TV.
MSU will play either Santa Clara or host UNLV on Monday.
A quick update on the Rebels and Bulldogs:
Andy Kennedy’s squad is third in the SEC in scoring (80.2) but last in rebounding margin (minus-2.6). The Rebels are second behind Kentucky in blocked shots (7.6).
Marshall Henderson is fifth in the league in scoring (18.8), averaging a league-best 4.4 3-pointers per game. Jarvis Summers is 10th in scoring (15.7).
Ole Miss leads the series against Mercer 5-0 but the teams have not played since 1983.
Mercer visits Oxford with a two-game winning streak, but the Bears are 1-4 on the road, including a 96-83 loss to Oklahoma.
The Bulldogs are shooting 46 percent from the field and lead the SEC with 9.9 steals per game.
Sophomore shooting guard Craig Sword continues to lead the team in scoring (15.5).
Mississippi State will participate in the Las Vegas Classic for the first time since 2001. The Bulldogs are 2-0 all-time against South Florida but the teams have not played since 1974.
South Florida, led by former Arkansas coach Stan Heath, has won four in a row.
The Bulls’ most recent wins, over Florida Gulf Coast and Florida A&M, came by a total of five points. MSU has wins over those same teams by a total of 26 points.