It’s February 1. Selection Sunday is a little less than seven weeks away and LSU (16-5, 4-4) needs to start stringing together wins to keep pace in the SEC race and bolster its resumé for the selection committee.
In steps Ole Miss (11-10, 2-6). The Rebels, like LSU, have hit a rough patch dropping five of its last six SEC games but Ole Miss does come into Tuesday’s game with some positive momentum as they beat Kansas State on Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
LSU beat Ole Miss twice last season, once in Oxford and then again in the SEC Tournament’s quarterfinal round 76-63. Ole Miss hasn’t quite lived up to the hoopla that was bringing in Kermit Davis from Middle Tennessee State a few years back. The Rebs won 20 games and made the NCAA Tournament in the 2018-19 season, but went 15-17 the following season and 16-12 last year. In an SEC that’s rapidly ascending to the top of power basketball, Ole Miss has been in that second tier in previous seasons.
This year, however, Ole Miss has tumbled out of that second tier and currently sits in 13th place ahead of only Georgia. In other words, it’s the perfect team for LSU to draw as they try to get back to their winning ways.
Now that LSU’s getting healthy and the schedule’s easing up wins should likely follow. Darius Days played in Saturday’s loss against TCU as did Xavier Pinson who had been sidelined since January 8. Pinson only played seven minutes—all in the first half—but should only see his role increase as his health improves.
January was always going to be a difficult month for LSU regardless of health. Now that the calendar has flipped to February, LSU’s playing eight games and its reasonable expect them to win seven (the lone exception being at Kentucky on February 23).
Time to start making the push.