Ole Miss is getting ready for SEC play, while North Alabama is preparing for its first opportunity to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth at the Division I level.
The Rebels (8-3) and the Lions (6-5) meet Tuesday afternoon in Oxford, Miss.
Ole Miss, which opens SEC play at home against Tennessee on Dec. 28, is coming off a tough 63-55 home victory against Temple on Saturday.
“It was a hard-fought game, kind of a game like some of the SEC ones will be,” Rebels coach Kermit Davis said. “I really liked our effort. We didn’t turn it over but twice in the second half so it’s a good win and we look forward to one more before the break.”
Ole Miss held Temple to 29.8 percent shooting from the floor, including 24.1 percent in the second half, and grabbed a season-high 46 rebounds, led by Myles Burns’ 12.
The Rebels trailed by three points at halftime before Daeshun Ruffin’s layup gave them the lead for good at 44-42 with less than eight minutes remaining.
“In the first half, give Temple credit, I thought they came out and played really hard,” Davis said. “In the second half, we got in a better flow.”
North Alabama has completed its Division I transition and is playing a challenging nonconference schedule in its first season fully eligible for postseason play.
The Lions, who lost earlier in the season at Georgia Tech and Memphis, are coming off an 84-60 loss at Colorado last Thursday.
“What has been fun is continuing to build the foundation of this transition,” North Alabama coach Tony Pujol said. “We have great team basketball culture. These guys have really demonstrated what it takes to play at this level.”
The Lions will open ASUN Conference play at Jacksonville State on Dec. 30. They’re led on offense by Daniel Ortiz, who scores 13.1 points per game and shoots 44.8 percent from 3-point range.
–Field Level Media