It is my learned and unsolicited opinion that playing with your back to the wall is not good. Pressure usually makes for mistakes. However, at Kentucky this year, it seems to be the norm, as both the men and women seem to love playing with a gun at their backs.
This game will be no exception. UK must dispatch with Ole Miss, hope for a miracle, and then defeat Tennessee to have a chance to get a share of the SEC title. The LSU loss saw to that. Championship teams don't waste opportunities. That's why Indiana's Men's program will never win the NCAA this year. A #1 team does not lose three times in a year while ranked #1. You just don't do it. You especially do not lose to an unranked team late in the season, a la Minnesota, or in this case, LSU.
However, lose we did, so we must pay the piper. Then we have to wait and see if Tennessee can stumble.
What are we facing at Ole Miss? Let us peer into the Big Blue crystal ball and see what we find.
To be honest, Ole Miss has struggled this season. They come in at (9-18, 2-12). They have wrestled with every team they've played, but they have defeated some good teams, most of them at home. UMass, Florida, and Mississippi State have all fallen to Ole Miss at home, so taking them for granted is out of the question.
The Rebels are led by interim head coach Brett Frank, who had no head coaching experience prior to taking the reins in Oxford. Tonight is also Mississippi's Senior Night, so emotions will be on the side of the Rebels going into the game.
The arsenal at Ole Miss? Well, Valencia McFarland is the heart and soul of the team. She has just missed averaging a triple-double in the last 4 games against the likes of Georgia, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State. She scores at will, and she scores big. As a 5'4" PG, she can be shut down, but it is going to take a team defensive effort.
Ole Miss will not react well to our pressure defense. Forty Minutes of Dread is exactly what this situation calls for, but it may require some exclusive double teaming McFarland to put the brakes on her. Trapping her and keeping her off the boards is crucial.
In the end, though, Kentucky is going to have too many weapons and too much defense for Ole Miss. Now that the team knows they have to win out, hopefully that fact has sunk in for these last two games. Look for Matthew Mitchell to try and play a lot of players and get some of the subs into a rhythm before the Tennessee game. UK cannot look beyond Ole Miss, but they will have to get their bench involved and make it a team effort to prepare for the off season and a shot at an SEC title. Kentucky 80-Ole Miss 48.
Also of note: A'Dia Mathies has been added to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watchlist
Mathies leads UK in scoring (15.9 ppg), 3-point field goals made (55), 3-point percentage (.393), field goals made (151) this season and is the only UK player to reach the 400-point mark this season (428). She is the all-time leading scorer for a guard in UK history, and is the No. 2 overall scorer with 1,863 career points. Mathies is the only player in UK history to accumulate over 1,800 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 250 steals in her career. She currently ranks third all-time in steals with 297 and needs just 12 more tie the school record of 309 set by Stacey Reed from 1991-95.