REBS LAST WIN IN LEXINGTON A LONG TIME AGO
By Chris Burrows
The answer is: Calvin Coolidge.
The question is: Who was President of the United States when Ole Miss last defeated Kentucky in Lexington?
The date was Feb. 11, 1927 and Ole Miss won 37-17. Kentucky finished 3-13 that season and Homer Hazel’s Rebels finished 13-5. Times have changed.
“I’m still excited about going up there,” said Rebel forward Ansu Sesay, whose 12 points were the club’s only highlight in a lopsided loss to Georgia in the SEC opener. “We know going on the road is a learning process.”
That learning process is compounded by a schedule that pits the Rebels against the top two teams (preseason polls) from each division in the opening four games.
Head coach Rob Evans believes Georgia’s 74-38 whipping of the Rebels won’t be an emotional stumbling block heading into Lexington for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff with the Wildcats (10-1, 1-0, No. 2 AP Poll).
“We can’t approach it as a bloc of four tough games or letting one loss throw us off mentally or emotionally,” Evans said. “We have to deal with it one game at a time and try to win the game we’re playing.”
History lesson aside, Rick Pitino’s Wildcats have plenty of weapons to help extend the Lexington streak against the Rebels. All-American candidate Tony Delk leads the offense from his shooting guard slot, averaging 19.8 points per contest.
Sophomore Antoine Walker, last year’s SEC Tournament MVP, and freshman Ron Mercer join senior Walter McCarty in Kentucky’s three-forward lineup. Ole Miss has favored a three-guard lineup of freshmen Keith Carter and Michael White and senior Ervin Garnes.
“Basketball is a game of match-ups,” Evans said. “Kentucky is a great team with great talent, but you’ve got to be more concerned with what match-ups are best for your club and less concerned about the other team.”
Carter leads the Rebels in scoring at 17.5 points per game, the only player in double figures. However, Sesay has averaged in double figures the past four contests and joins Carter for the team’s rebounding lead with 6.6 per game.
“We know what we’re up against with Kentucky and the way the SEC schedule opens for us,” Sesay said. “But we’re going to get better and if we do what we’re capable of, we believe we can win. We don’t ever go into a game thinking we won’t win.”