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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Ole Miss drifting toward the bubble after loss, fracas at Missouri

The Dagger

There is no reason to panic at Ole Miss after the Rebels lost at Missouri 98-79 essentially nullifying their best win of the season, a victory at home over the Tigers last month.

However, Ole Miss has little room for error in the stretch run of the regular season. If the NCAA tournament began this week, the Rebels would be in without objection. They have a solid record (18-5, 7-3) and can be explosive offensively. ESPN's Joe Lunardi listed the Rebels as a No. 9 seed earlier this week before the loss to the Tigers.

But Ole Miss has lost three of its last four games against the best teams in the SEC – Florida, Kentucky and Missouri – and it has no strong opponents left on its schedule. So the Rebels are essentially in a position where wins are expected and losing can be extremely costly over the final eight regular seasons games.

Seven of the Rebels' final eight games are against the bottom eight teams in the SEC, with Alabama being the lone exception. It doesn't help the Rebels that the SEC is ranked eighth as a conference in the RPI.

Ole Miss is 15-0 against teams ranked outside the top 100 in the latest RPI standings and just 3-5 against teams in the top 100. If those numbers get worse over the stretch run, they start to become real question marks for the selection committee, assuming the Rebels don't surprise everyone by winning the SEC tournament next month.

Both teams entered Saturday's game in need of a win and at times the competition got heated. With Missouri well ahead midway through the second half, Ole Miss big man Reginald Buckner appeared to throw a punch at Missouri forward Laurence Bowers after Bower's teammate Alex Oriakhi appeared to trip Buckner.

If Buckner is forced to miss any time for disciplinary reasons because of the incident, it could be dangerous for the Rebels, who visit Texas A&M on Wednesday. Missouri was coming off a loss at Texas A&M before beating the Rebels.

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