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This past week brought a bit of a lull to the Ole Miss sports calendar. There’s a dead period in football recruiting on the heels of the second National Signing Day. The basketball team had the weekend off and baseball is in the final week of preparation for its season-opening series at Hawaii next weekend.
So, we’ll give this a whirl and see what happens.
1. According to Joe Lunardi, Ole Miss enters this week as one of the last four teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The Rebels, who had the weekend off, head to Kentucky Tuesday and then head home to meet Missouri on Saturday. The Rebels’ schedule after that: At Mississippi State, vs. South Carolina, vs. Alabama, at Missouri, at Georgia, home vs. Texas A&M.
Ole Miss likely needs to win five of those games to head to Nashville for the Southeastern Conference Tournament feeling good about its place in the NCAA Tournament.
Ole Miss is 18-5 overall and 5-5 in the SEC after consecutive losses to Auburn and at South Carolina. They will arrive in Lexington to face a Kentucky team that has lost three straight home games and is just one game ahead of the Rebels in the SEC standings.
Lunardi had nine SEC teams in his most recent bracket. The overall strength of the league should put some wind at the Rebels’ tournament sails as the season nears its completion.
The Rebels just have to win some games.
2. Up next: Kentucky.
Here’s a story about the slumping Wildcats from my colleague at Rivals, CatsIllustrated.com managing editor Jeff Drummond:
For the first time since Rupp Arena opened in 1976, Kentucky has suffered a three-game losing streak at what was once the most difficult venue for a visiting team to win in college basketball.
Gonzaga made it an unprecedented skid on Saturday, beating No. 17 Kentucky 89-85 before a stunned crowd of 20,186.
The Bulldogs followed Florida and Tennessee in winning on Kentucky’s legendary home floor in the last 11 days. They did so by following the blueprint that many have used against the young Wildcats this season: playing physically, dominating the glass, and taking advantage of UK’s nearly non-existent halfcourt defense.
Gonzaga (18-6) shot 47% from the field, owned a 43-31 rebounding advantage, and scored 50 of its 89 points in the paint.
“It’s one of our strengths,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “So, at this point in the season, you just have to play to your strengths. You’re hoping you can do that, obviously. We take a lot of pride in our rebounding, and it’s been decent this year, at times, but, it was exceptional at times.”
Five different Bulldogs pulled down five or more rebounds on the day. They finished with 18 on the offensive glass leading to 15 second-chance points.
“It is just disappointing we got beat to so many balls,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “Just disappointing. I think we are better than that.”
Junior forward Graham Ike scored a game-high 23 points to lead Gonzaga,…