Kentucky 84, Ole Miss 70: Rebels' At-Large Hopes Likely Gone

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest week of Ole Miss's season did not begin well.

It's probably not possible to write off Ole Miss's NCAA Tournament at-large hopes entirely, as winning out and making a run to the SEC Tournament final might still do the job depending on how other bubble teams fare nationally. However looking at the way the Rebels lost to Kentucky last night, it's probably safe to write off the possibility.

Ole Miss was lost in the first half of its 84-70 loss to the Wildcats, falling behind big early and entering halftime down 42-25. That deficit is simply too big to overcome against a team like Kentucky when the young talent is on (and it was). Ole Miss scored just four points in the final seven minutes of the first half. While the Rebels did have the margin down below ten late, UK made all of its free throws down the stretch to keep the Rebels at arm's length.

Only three Ole Miss players had more than three points—Jarvis Summers with 22, Anthony Perez with 21, and Marshall Henderson with 18. Henderson spent the game largely chucking threes, as he is wont to do, but making just five of 14 of them did not help the cause tremendously. There was no answer for Kentucky's Julius Randle, who made six-of-seven from the floor and 13-of-14 from the line. He grabbed 13 rebounds for another double-double, while Aaron Henderson chipped in 17 points and James Young had 16.

We can completely bury Ole Miss's at-large hopes if it loses to Florida this weekend. That one is a home game, but so was last night's contest too. After finally breaking through to March Madness last year, it's looking like Andy Kennedy's bunch is going to have to win the SEC Tournament to make a repeat appearance.

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