RED-HOT REBELS LOOKING FOR FIRST SEC ROAD WIN
By Chris Burrows
Auburn will be remembered as the first turning point of the season for the Ole Miss Rebels. Is it possible Auburn will be remembered as the second turning point of the season for the Ole Miss Rebels?
“Looking back at it, the season turned around for us with the Auburn game,” confirmed Rebel head coach Rob Evans, whose 10-12, 4-8 club visits Auburn tonight for a tipoff at 7. “We were 0-5 (SEC) and weren’t getting over the hump. Since then, we’ve played well, especially at home.”
Which brings us to turning point number two. The Rebels are still seeking a breakthrough in SEC road play. Ole Miss has come close a few times, but needs a road win for the next step up the success ladder.
“We’re a team that can protect the home floor,” Evans said. “We’ve beaten quality teams here, with a young team that’s maturing. We’re pleased with that. But we aren’t celebrating anything. We’re fighting for our lives every night.”
So is Auburn, sporting a 17-8, 5-7 mark going into tonight’s contest. The Tigers harbor hopes of the NCAA Tournament and the No. 3 seed from the Western Division in the SEC Tournament. To reach those goals, there is no margin for error.
“It’s simple. We’ve got to win this week (Ole Miss and LSU) to get to .500. That leaves us with Kentucky and Mississippi State in the final week,” explained Auburn coach Cliff Ellis. “If we get to .500, that puts us in position to do something in the last week to impress the NCAA Tournament selection people.”
The fact Ole Miss whipped Auburn 82-69 a month ago hasn’t been lost on Ellis. Despite the lack of road success by the Rebels, Ellis won’t take anything for granted.
“Ole Miss, next to Kentucky, has played as well as anybody in the SEC in the past month,” Ellis said. “They’re one of the best young teams in America, no kidding. I expect this one to be a war.”