No. 22 Ole Miss looks to pick up more steam vs. LSU

Jan 13, 2024; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Chris Beard (right) talks with forward Jaemyn Brakefield (4) during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Ole Miss has responded well to its first loss of the season.

LSU will have to respond to its first Southeastern Conference loss of the season when it plays the Rebels on Wednesday night in Baton Rouge, La.

Ole Miss (15-1, 2-1) fell 90-64 at then-No. 5 Tennessee in its SEC opener on Jan. 6 before posting double-digit home victories against Florida last Wednesday and Vanderbilt on Saturday. On Monday the Rebels returned to No. 22 in the AP poll.

“Responding is a big part of a team sport,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said. “It’s not going to be rainbows and popsicles every day. We’ve had the ability to respond, from game to game, from practice drill to practice drill, from possession to possession, and these guys have shown the ability to respond, and that’s an important trait.”

The Rebels have shown their versatility by winning their last two games with contrasting styles, scoring 103 points against Florida and holding Vanderbilt to 56.

Beard hopes his team can string together more victories after starting the season with a 13-game winning streak that tied the school record.

“If you’re going to do the things we’d like to do — to be one of those teams in the (NCAA) Tournament that has a chance to win six games on three weekends — then you’ve got to have some streaks throughout the season to prove to yourself that you can do it,” Beard said. “We’re only three rounds into an 18-round fight, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Tigers (10-6, 2-1) had plenty of contrast in their last game, a 93-78 loss at No. 16 Auburn on Saturday.

LSU fell behind by as many as 28 points before igniting a 21-2 run that got the Tigers back in the game. They got as close as eight points before running out of steam.

“You can’t get in that big of a hole and think you are going to come back and win the game,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said.

The coach lamented that 16 of his team’s 17 turnovers came on steals by Auburn.

“You’re better off just throwing the ball into the stands so you can at least set your defense,” McMahon said.

But down the stretch, LSU looked more like a team that had won four straight games — including its first two SEC contests — before the Auburn game.

“I loved the fight and the toughness that group showed on the floor,” McMahon said. “We were able to start taking care of the ball, which kept us out of transition defense; we were able to get downhill and get to the rim.”

LSU heads home, where it is 7-2 after a 77-69 victory over Vanderbilt in SEC play last week.

“It’s 18 one-game seasons,” McMahon said of the conference schedule. “We’ve got to learn from the good of the last 12 minutes and the bad of the first 28 minutes (against Auburn) and get better.”

–Field Level Media

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