By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss men’s basketball team heads to Rupp Arena to take on the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN.
Ole Miss (13-16, 4-12 SEC) is coming off a 76-66 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday inside the SJB Pavilion. The Aggies took control from the opening tip taking a 14-0 advantage. A&M’s biggest lead was by 25 points.
The Rebels were led by Matthew Murrell with 20 points.
No. 6 Kentucky enters Tuesday at 23-6 overall, 12-4 in SEC play and a perfect 17-0 at home this season. UK holds the top NET rating among SEC schools at No. 4, owning a combined record of 12-6 against Quad 1 (8-6) and Quad 2 (4-0), and a perfect 11-0 against Quad 3 (3-0) and Quad 4 (8-0). Of UK’s six losses, five have come against nationally ranked teams, with its lone unranked loss coming to Notre Dame on Dec. 11 (66-62).
The Wildcats possess one of the most complete teams in the nation, ranking highly in the NCAA in most categories. Led by center Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky owns the NCA’s best rebounding margin at +10.6 boards per game, while also holding the nation’s 7th-best rebounding average at 40.8 per game (No. 1 SEC), and the 11th-best offensive rebound clip at 13.3 per game (No. 2 SEC). Kentucky also owns a potent offense, leading the SEC in both scoring margin at +14.7 points per game (No. 7 NCAA), field goal percentage at 48.5 (No. 15 NCAA) and three-point percentage at 35.6 (No. 83 NCAA), while also owning the SEC’s second-best scoring offense at 80.3 points per game (No. 11 NCAA). On top of all that, UK is efficient at sharing the ball and minimizing mistakes, as it leads the SEC in assists per game at 16.2 (No. 18 NCAA), assist/turnover ratio at 1.4 (No. 26 NCAA), fewest fouls per game at 14.2 (No. 26 NCAA) and fewest turnovers per game at 11.8 (No. 91 NCAA).
Naismith Player of the Year candidate Oscar Tshiebwe has been dominant this season, leading Kentucky in scoring (16.9 PPG), rebounding (15.3 RPG), steals (1.8 SPG) and blocks (1.5 BPG), while also shooting lights out from the field at 59.7 percent. Tshiebwe leads the NCAA in offensive rebounds per game (5.4) and rebounds per game, while leading the SEC in double-doubles with 23 (No. 2 NCAA) and field goal percentage (No. 12 NCAA).
Tuesday night marks the 123rd all-time meeting between the Rebels and the Wildcats, a series that Kentucky holds a wide-margin in at 108-14. That advantage is even greater on their home court, with UK owning a 55-2 lead in Lexington, with the lone Ole Miss victories coming on Feb. 11, 1927 (37-17) and Feb. 14, 1998 (73-64). That Valentine’s Day victory was over No. 7 Kentucky, the last top-10 road win for Ole Miss, and it is also the only win for the Rebels in Rupp Arena since it opened in 1976.