By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
After a school-record six-straight wins to begin SEC play, the Rebels are streaking in the other direction with losses to Kentucky (87-74) and Florida (78-64).
A win at Florida was an unlikely outcome at full strength, much more so after the loss of key reserves Aaron Jones and Nick Williams against Kentucky.
Before those two were hurt the Rebels showed some of the resiliency that marked their nine-game win streak by cutting a 17-point deficit to one before the Wildcats surged ahead again. They also showed some inconsistency by having that big deficit at home in the first place.
The Rebels are back at home Wednesday night at 8 against rival Mississippi State then are back on the road for a noon Saturday tip at Missouri. It’s the first of two meetings against MSU and the second against Missouri. The Tigers were ranked No. 10 when Ole Miss won 64-49 on Jan. 12.
Marshall Henderson was just 5 for 19 from the floor against Kentucky but was more efficient at Florida, hitting 7 of 11 shots from the 3-point line for 25 points, the fifth time in SEC play that he’s scored at least 20 points.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy had hoped Reggie Buckner would be a much better part of the action at Florida. The plan was for Buckner to get off 15 shots against Gators’ center Patric Young, but Buckner attempted just four shots and was held to four rebounds.
WarrenNolan.com has the Ole Miss RPI at 43 going into the MSU game.
Ole Miss joins every other SEC team Florida has faced in losing to the Gators. The Kentucky game would have been an addition to the Rebels’ NCAA resume, but losing it won’t be a killer. This team has to find a way to regain the mental edge it had two weeks ago whether or not Williams returns.