Ole Miss basketball is playing non-conference teams in the winter break, which might not be worth much save for bigger teams like Oregon Ducks on Dec. 7. However for this fan here, the winter break games are just as fun as the SEC matches in the spring semester.
Three Decembers ago, I went to my first Ole Miss men’s basketball game during the winter break. I was a freshman who was gifted tickets to cushioned seats in a section right next to the student section before it became Club Red. I don’t remember the game and I vaguely remember the other team as Mississippi Valley State University because of their mascot: the Delta Devils. I went with my best friend, Tabitha Agany, who wanted to have a bit of fun during winter break.
That night, we dressed as cutely as we could for the game before going to sit in the abandoned student section. We were a little surprised by how small the crowd was that night but soon saw an opportunity: the untouched cushioned seats. The student section metal benches were hellish to sit in for a blowout game so we walked (read: scurried) over to the heavenly seats. We weren’t as sneaky as we thought because we ended up on the Jumbotron screen. Nobody came to shoo us out so from that day since the winter break games were worth attending.
My fiancé, Andrew Bryant, found this out for himself last year when he went to a game during winter break in January. He shared a story that made me see Bo Wallace as a great quarterback.
“A bunch of kids were taking selfies secretly — or so they thought — of the football team sitting behind them,” Bryant said. “Bo Wallace eventually noticed and started smiling in their pictures which made the kids happy. The football team let kids take better pictures with them between the two halves of the basketball game.”
As the quote goes, it’s the little things that drew us to basketball games during the break.
We went to the game last night against the Coastal Carolina team. I walked up to the ticket booth expecting to pay $12 only to get it in my hand for free. Then we got free Ole Miss ornaments with happy holidays wishes from the Athletics dept. The little blessings didn’t end there.
The Rebelettes and even Rebel the Bear had Santa hats on. The jumbotron played clips from “A Christmas Story,” “Home Alone” and even the infamous Elf face-in-hole video of the basketball team with an elf named Snoop Elf. Yes really! My favorite was the men and women basketball players singing Hotty Toddy Christmas to the tune of A Holly Jolly Christmas on the jumbotron.
The game began quietly with people scattered upwards to the nosebleed sections. After five minutes the cheerleaders went up in the stands and cheered most people to gather around the court. Andrew and I gladly fled our nosebleed seats to seats within earshot of basketball players.
The Club Red had mostly children in it save for two men wearing Club Red shirts. However as the game went on the Club Red section got louder as children banged on the cardboard signs with Rebel. Well into second period they weren’t the only ones cheering – the Tad Pad was as loud as if it was a SEC match. Rebels bounced from a 17 point trail to beating Chanticleers 71 to 68.
Say what you will about Oxford “being dead” during winter breaks – it’s just less crowded but no less festive. I invite y’all to attend any basketball games over the winter break and guarantee a fun time as if it were regular season.
Callie Daniels is a staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.