No. 24 Mizzou basketball pursues revenge against Ole Miss

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune
Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin and Mississippi head coach Kermit Davis meet after a game Feb. 10 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

After three straight losses, Missouri men's basketball enjoyed its first comfortable victoryin weeks Saturday against South Carolina.

Star center Jeremiah Tilmon returned to the court after two games away from the team for personal reasons. 

Now, Missouri turns its attention to the final stretch of its Southeastern Conference schedule, starting with a Tuesday night matchup against Mississippi. 

The Rebels and Tigers played less than two weeks ago, with Missouri having perhaps its worst performance of the season, an 80-59 loss in Oxford. 

More:Five things we learned in No. 10 Mizzou basketball's 80-59 loss at Ole Miss

Missouri looks to avenge that defeat in a critical game for seeding in the SEC Tournament, which starts in just over two weeks. 

No. 24 Missouri is 14-6 overall and 7-6 in league play. Ole Miss is 12-9 overall and 7-7 in the SEC. The Tigers and Rebels are in sixth and a tie for seventh place, respectively, in the conference standings.

Related:Mizzou basketball drops four spots to No. 24 in AP poll

The top four teams in the SEC Tournament get a double bye to the quarterfinals. Florida, at 7-5 in league play, currently occupies the No. 4 spot. The Tigers have yet to play the Gators, with a March 3 game in Gainesville remaining on the schedule. 

Here’s a closer look at the Missouri vs. Ole Miss matchup. The following includes broadcast information, projected lineups, players to watch, keys to the game and a score prediction:

How to watch or listen

Tuesday's Tigers vs. Rebels tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. on SEC Network and will be radio broadcast on KTGR (105.1 FM).

Who are the projected Missouri starters?

Dru Smith, Xavier Pinson, Kobe Brown, Mark Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon

Who are the projected Ole Miss starters?

Robert Allen, Romello White, Luis Rodriguez, Devonate Shuler, Jarkel Joiner

Missouri forward Jeremiah Tilmon (23) shoots over Mississippi forward Robert Allen (21) during a game Feb. 10 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

Missouri player to watch

It's hard not to marvel at what Jeremiah Tilmon accomplished Saturday.

After nearly a week away from Columbia following the passing of his grandmother, Tilmon came off the bench for one of the most efficient games of his Missouri career. 

The East St. Louis, Illinois, native scored 17 points, made every shot and free throw he attempted, and didn't commit a foul. 

Tilmon's offensive presence opened passing and scoring lanes for his teammates, and the box score also won't show just how vocal and meticulous he was defensively. 

When Tilmon is playing well, Missouri is tough to beat. He didn't have a great performance against Ole Miss last time with six points, six rebounds and three turnovers — his last game before his absence began. 

Now, in his first home game in over two weeks, the 6-foot-10 center should add a needed spark for Missouri in an important game to keep the team's momentum strong with Selection Sunday less than three weeks away. 

Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler (2) celebrates after a game against Missouri on Feb. 10 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

Ole Miss player to watch

Coming into the last time the Rebels and Tigers faced off, Devontae Shuler had been named co-SEC player of the week. 

Shuler helped Ole Miss pull away from Missouri with 15 points.

None of that form was evident in his last game against Mississippi State, however.

Shuler wasn't himself, finishing the game 1-for-15 from the field while missing all six of his 3-point attempts in 38 minutes on the floor. 

History likely won't repeat itself, and Shuler will enter Tuesday's game looking to get past his showing against the Bulldogs as soon as possible. 

Missouri’s key to the game

This is a trickier matchup than it appears, even with the Tigers losing by 21 in Oxford less than a fortnight ago. 

Although Ole Miss scored only 56 points Saturday in one of its worst offensive games of the season, that showing represents an outlier, not a trend. 

The Tigers have employed a faster style of play this season compared to the past two years, which will give the Rebels more opportunities to regain their scoring touch. 

Going back to methodical defensive ways to muddle the game would benefit Missouri. Although the Tigers won't be as flashy, it has worked in winning close games. 

Ole Miss' key to the game

The Rebels are trying to make a late-season push to be an NCAA Tournament team, but currently are on the wrong side of the bubble. 

Ole Miss was listed as part of ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi's "Next Four Out" in the middle of last week but fell further away from that deciding line with Saturday's loss. 

The best opportunity for the Rebels to improve their stock remaining on their schedule is facing a ranked Missouri team on the road. 

Ole Miss won't leave much to chance and will be desperate for the victory, with confidence knowing it blew out Missouri in the not-so-distant past.

Final score prediction

No. 24 Missouri 77, Ole Miss 71

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