Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
Kentucky takes on Ole Miss for the first time this season on Saturday in Rupp Arena. While the Rebels are just 13-11 for the season and 4-7 in conference, they are on a three-game winning streak, including in the last game defeating in-state rival Mississippi State by 25 points, so this game all of a sudden is a little tougher than it looked initially. Let’s go through some important notes going into the game tomorrow:
The senior guard for Ole Miss is not just tied at first in the league in PPG at 20.0, he has been absolutely electric the last few games in the Rebels’ winning streak. Tyree is averaging 33.7 PPG in the last three games, including scoring 40 points against Mississippi State.
Who on UK guards Tyree? I think Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari would feel comfortable putting Immanuel Quickley or Ashton Hagans on Tyree. Both have proven to defend well against big-time players, and if Kentucky wants to win this game with ease, it all starts with defending Breein Tyree.
The speedy guard had gone through a stretch of tough games, but finally broke out of the slump against Vanderbilt, threatening to be the fourth player in UK history to get a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists against the Commodores. He also only committed one turnover in that game, and really that turnover was not totally on him as much as it was just a miscommunication.
The question is: Can he get back to playing that way consistently? It is important to this team’s chances at making a Final Four that he plays well, and playing another good game against the Rebels would help him getting back into that groove.
Ole Miss has not won at Rupp Arena since 1998. That’s 22 years ago, folks. I wasn’t even born until two years later. Kentucky has in fact won 10 games in a row overall against the Rebels. The last time Ole Miss defeated Kentucky home or away was 2011, as Ole Miss hit a game-winning three in the closing seconds to defeat the Cats 71-69.
There was a game in 2015 in which Ole Miss came into Rupp Arena and was up six points with 30 seconds left, before UK tied the game up with two consecutive threes and won in OT 89-86. Also, if you remember, the third triple-double in UK history came for Isaiah Briscoe against Ole Miss in the 2016-17 season, as he totaled 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
Of course, Briscoe does not get that triple-double if Derek Willis does not purposely miss a free throw in his direction for him to get his tenth rebound.
Like I mentioned before though, the only real chance Ole Miss will have is Breein Tyree going for 30 points again. Keep him under 30, and I don’t think the Rebels will have enough to take down Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
With a win tomorrow, John Calipari will have his 26th consecutive on-court 20-win season. That is the most among active college basketball coaches. Second behind him is Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski with 24 consecutive 20-win season.
We still don’t praise that man enough.
March is getting closer and closer folks. Kentucky has just six regular season games left this season after the Ole Miss game, so it is important for the team to get another win and stay in a groove.