OXFORD – Ole Miss will be back in its gym today, trying to distance itself from a 16-point road loss.
Forty-eight hours ago, the Rebels’ basketball team looked to be a solid bet to do that against a South Carolina team that was searching for its first conference win.
Now the Gamecocks come in with a little more confidence and the knowledge that they weren’t that far from beating the Rebels two weeks ago.
Tip-off today is 12:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by WCBI in Columbus and WLMT in Memphis.
South Carolina (8-12, 1-6 SEC) is coming off an 80-52 win over Texas A&M.
For all the taunting that Marshall Henderson received in Knoxville, he did knock down eight of 19 3-point shots.
Frontcourt production was lacking, however, and that allowed Tennessee to control the game.
“We had to do a decent job on the glass. We had to hold our own, and we didn’t do it. They dominated us on the glass. Even when we did get initial stops they just killed us with second-chance points,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Rebels defeated South Carolina 75-74 on Jan. 8 in Columbia in spite of being minus-9 on the glass. Six of those nine extra rebounds were loose ball retrievals.
Ole Miss (14-6, 5-2 SEC) had been getting solid production from freshman Sebastian Saiz. The young Spaniard struggled against the Vols’ bigger and more experienced frontcourt tandem of Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon.
The Vols had a 45-27 edge on the glass and outscored Ole Miss 19-4 in second-chance points.
Saiz had only two rebounds in 24 minutes.
“He’s a freshman in a hostile environment against a big, physical front line. He plays 24 minutes and gets one defensive rebound,” Kennedy said. “He wasn’t doing the things that we need him to do, but it’s our fault for having to depend on a true freshman at this stage in his career.”
Ole Miss had trouble with South Carolina freshman Sindarius Thornwell, a 6-foot-7 guard, who had 24 points with 4-for-7 3-point shooting and also had 11 rebounds.
Other than losing Thornwell several times, the Rebels kept Carolina’s other players from compiling big rebound numbers.
“That was a battle in Columbia where we won by one point,” Kennedy said. “It’s always difficult to be a team twice, most especially in a two- or three-week period, which is the case this time.”