Gamethread: LSU vs. Ole Miss, 7 P.M., ESPN2

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We’re nearly a third of the way through league play and the LSU men’s basketball team (12-4, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place in the SEC and look to continue its winning streak.

While LSU is the only team in the SEC that has yet to suffer a conference loss, the Tigers have had several near misses the past two weeks. LSU’s last three wins have been by a combined seven points. Against Arkansas, Trendon Watford gave LSU the go-ahead basket with eight seconds to play; three days later, Skylar Mays hit a buzzer-beater shot just inside the three point line to put LSU past Mississippi State; and on Tuesday in College Station, LSU blew a 16-point first half lead and needed overtime to fend off Texas A&M.

But in all three of those games, the results were the same: LSU won. Now the Tigers hit the road for the second consecutive game and travel east to Oxford to take on the Rebels (9-7, 0-3).

Ole Miss comes into Saturday’s game on a four-game losing streak. The Rebels have struggled with scoring over the course of the losing streak, scoring less than 55 points in three of those games. Through three SEC games, Ole Miss has lost by an average of 10 points, highlighted by a 16-point loss to Florida.

It’s been a rough start for an Ole Miss team trying to build on last year’s success. The Rebels won 20 games and made the NCAA Tournament in Kermit Davis’ first year as coach. But the Rebels, despite bringing back four starters, are searching for answers.

Per KenPom, Ole Miss is 112th in adjusted offense and 121st in adjusted defense. The Rebels are 11th in the SEC in scoring and 10th in shooting. But Ole Miss is one of the better teams in terms of ball movement, the Rebels rank third in the SEC in assists per game.

The question for Ole Miss will be the health of Breein Tyree and Khadim Sy. Both Tyree and Sy missed the Florida game and the shorthanded Rebels could only muster 54 points against the Gators. Tyree is Ole Miss’ leading scorer with 17 points a game and shoots 35 percent from three. Sy, another starter for Ole Miss, stands at 6’10” and provides a significant post presence for the Rebels.

Saturday is an important game for LSU. While LSU sits at 4-0, the four teams with 3-1 SEC records play each other today. Auburn plays Florida while Arkansas hosts Kentucky. If LSU can improve to 5-0 it can build some early breathing room in the race for the SEC regular season championship, and a top-four seed for the conference tournament.

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Zach Junda


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