By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
NASHVILLE – Sometimes history repeats itself. If it does tonight, that would please the Ole Miss basketball team and its fans.
The last time the Rebels won at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym was 2001 when Ole Miss advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.
The next year the Rebels reached the tournament again, but a year later began a drought that still continues.
Looking for its third-straight SEC win, its second on the road, Ole Miss visits a transitioning Vanderbilt team tonight. Tipoff at Memorial Gym is 8 p.m.
More for history buffs: Vanderbilt is 47-5 against Ole Miss in Nashville.
Ole Miss won its SEC opener at Tennessee last Wednesday then knocked off No. 10 Missouri at home Saturday night.
Vanderbilt (6-8) lost its first two SEC games, 60-58 against Kentucky at home before getting pounded at Arkansas 56-33.
Who’s on point?
Point guard Kedren Johnson, the Commodores’ leading scorer with 15.7 points a game, aggravated an injured shoulder, and coach Kevin Stallings said Monday that Johnson’s availability for tonight was unknown.
Stallings also said he doesn’t expect Vanderbilt’s recent success against Ole Miss at Memorial Gym to be a factor.
“Veteran teams tend to have experience on the road. It impacts those teams with older guys less than it does teams with younger guys.”
Since 2001 the Rebels have beaten Vanderbilt just twice and have lost by an average margin of 11 points on all five trips to Memorial Gym.
Ole Miss starts two seniors and brings a third off the bench early in the game. Junior college transfer Marshall Henderson, leading the SEC in scoring at 18.6 points a game, gained Division 1 road experience playing at Utah two years ago.
The Rebels’ seniors won’t likely be affected by the placement of the benches – in the end zones and not on the sidelines. Most of the Ole Miss players will experience the uniqueness of Memorial Gym for the first time.
“We had a discussion about the configuration of the court. It’s different when you’re playing away from the bench,” Kennedy said. “You really depend on guys to take ownership and communicate among themselves. Coaches are typically eliminated from the conversation when the ball is away from you. It’s easy to talk about, but it will be a change for our guys who have not gone through it.”