Every game is key for Ole Miss and coach Andy Kennedy this year, as the Rebels last NCAA tournament appearance fades farther into the rear view mirror. Ole Miss’ recent resurgence in SEC play has not been due to three pointers or free throws but to hustle, defense and rebounds.
Looking at the numbers; Florida is 25th in the nation in FG percentage, Ole Miss is 27th in FG defense. Ole Miss is 57th in rebound margin, Florida is 63. Florida is 9th in three-point percentage, Ole Miss is not in the top 100 in three-point defense.
Ole Miss will have a size advantage, but Florida’s guards can fill up a basket. This will be a battle of who can take control of the game. If Ole Miss can lock down Florida guard Boynton and get Terrance Henry and Reginald Buckner hot over smaller defenders, Ole Miss may be able to grind out a big win.
If Florida can get open looks and make some outside shots, Florida could win going away.
This is not a game anyone would expect to be a must win for AK, but would really be a statement game should they steal a win here; combined with a win Saturday against a weak South Carolina team could put Ole Miss high up the SEC standings near the half way point of the season.
A loss shouldn’t phase Ole Miss, but with the short turnaround of a Thursday-Saturday game, this looks to be a dangerous stretch for the Rebs.