Surging Rebels say 'it's just us'

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rebeljim
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Surging Rebels say 'it's just us'

Post by rebeljim » Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:16 pm

M.J. Rhett is not surprised at all that Ole Miss has won four games in a row and is a NCAA tournament team at this moment.

"It's just us," said Rhett, a senior forward. "We got five seniors, we got five juniors. There's no reason why we shouldn't be playing like this. It took us a while because we are a new group, but we're just trying to pull it together, finishing up strong and make a run towards the NCAA tournament."

The Rebels (15-7, 6-3 SEC) can run the winning streak up to five with a victory at Auburn (11-11, 3-6) on Saturday (5:30 p.m, SEC Network).

No one doubts the Tigers are playing hard under first-year coach Bruce Pearl and are eventually going to be a force to be reckoned with, and they just beat LSU on the road. But Auburn has also lost to Coastal Carolina, Mississippi State and Texas A&M at home this season.

Meanwhile Ole Miss is one of the best road teams in the Southeastern Conference, beating Arkansas by 14 and Missouri by 20. The Rebels did lose at Kentucky and Georgia, but played each fellow NCAA tournament hopeful (or lock, in the Wildcats' case) to within at least five points.

"We just like going in and taking what people got," Rhett said of the team's success on the road.

Ole Miss' 10-point win against Texas A&M on Wednesday was enough for all the major bracketologists to take the Rebels off the "last four in" line and solidly into the field, most as a No. 10 seed. That's better position for Ole Miss than usual at this time of the year, but coach Andy Kennedy said he's just happy to see his team in the fight.

"Our next two are on the road, and the hits just keep on coming for us," Kennedy said. "We're 6-3 at the midway point, and we're still alive. As you hit February as a coach that's really all you can ask. We have to continue to improve, we have to continue to get better in certain things and we got to continue grinding through these next few weeks."

Rhett, who is averaging 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds while starting 19 of the first 22 games, said that the players are aware that the team's struggles early in the season affect them now. Charleston Southern is No. 200 in the RPI, and dangerously close to becoming the kind of resume loss that kills bubble teams. TCU has also lost eight of its first nine Big 12 games, and is free-falling to No. 130 as of Friday.

If 20 wins is the bottom-line benchmark for any NCAA tournament team to hurdle, Ole Miss has to win 11 league games to reach it. That seemed unlikely in December, but with a favorable schedule ahead (KenPom.com predicts a 12-6 SEC record) Ole Miss is making noise.

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/olem ... /22980317/
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