GAME NOTES: SEC foes are set to square off on Wednesday night, as the Ole Miss Rebels welcome the Texas A&M Aggies to Tad Smith Coliseum.
Texas A&M battled Tennessee at home for four overtimes, its longest game in more than five years, but it ultimately fell short in the marathon session, 93-85. The Aggies have been up and down in recent weeks, alternating losses with wins in each of their last nine contests, and they currently sit at 16-11 overall and 6-8 in the SEC.
Ole Miss (20-7) has come back to Earth since winning 17 of its first 19 games for its best start ever, but after losing four of five, the team has played better of late with wins in two of its last three. The Rebels most recently dismissed Auburn on Saturday afternoon, 88-55, and at 9-5 in the league, they are right there among the league leaders. With the latest win, head coach Andy Kennedy become the school's all-time winningest coach with 145 victories.
Texas A&M beat Ole Miss in College Station on Feb. 13, 69-67, in the first matchup between the two as SEC rivals. As a result, the Aggies lead the all- time series, 2-0.
The Aggies appeared in position to claim their latest bout on several occasions, but they fell victim to a game-tying free throw by the Vols at the end of regulation and game-tying buckets in the waning seconds of the first and second overtimes, and they were on the wrong end of a 9-0 run in the fourth extra session as they dropped the heart-breaker. Elston Turner was incredibly busy on the night, shooting 16-of-33 from the field for 38 points, two points shy of his career-high set in a Jan. 12 win over Kentucky. J'Mychal Reese (15 points) and Fabyon Harris (13 points) also took advantage of the extra minutes. On the season, Texas A&M is able to keep most of its games competitive thanks to the SEC's fourth-ranked scoring defense (61.0 ppg), but it has struggled to break from the middle of the pack thanks to its lackluster offense (63.6 ppg). Elston Turner is the league's third-leading scorer with 17.3 ppg, and he's by far the team's top option as he has attempted 159 more field goals than the next-highest scorer, Harris (11.5 ppg). Ray Turner (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Kourtney Roberson (6.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) bring stability to the frontcourt.
Ole Miss made easy work of Auburn over the weekend, outshooting the Tigers from the field, 54 percent to 39.3 percent, en route to the blowout victory. After struggling in recent weeks, Marshall Henderson was demoted to the bench in the latest matchup, but he responded by shooting 8-of-12 from 3-point range for 28 points. Murphy Holloway notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Derrick Millinghaus was also impressive off the bench with 14 points. It was a return to form for the Rebels, who rank sixth in the nation in scoring (79.1 ppg), but had netted 67 points or fewer in five of its previous nine games. Henderson is the league's leading scorer (19.7 ppg), and he ranks fourth in the nation in 3-pointers made (105), but his overall field goal percentage (.386) has been less than stellar. Holloway brings 14.5 ppg and 9.4 rpg to the table, while Reginald Buckner (9.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.7 bpg, .606 FG percentage) makes up the other half of one of the SEC's most feared frontcourt duos. Nick Williams (8.8 ppg) and Jarvis Summers (8.7 ppg, 3.9 apg) have also been consistent contributors.
While the Rebels may not be the elite team that they showed earlier in the year, they are still fantastic on their home floor (14-1), and riding a little bit of momentum, they should be able to take care of an inconsistent group of Aggies.
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