Lack of respect doesn't bother Sanders, Rebs

OXFORD - David Sanders is glad Ole Miss is not getting any respect from college basketball's national pollsters.

"This year you can see what respect gets you - it gets you knocked off," said the Rebels' junior guard, referring to the season-long rash of upsets up and down the national Top 25 polls.

So please, coaches, sportwriters and sportscasters, continue to leave Sanders and his 17-4 Rebels off your ballots.

They kind of like being the underdog, the unknown, the darkhorse.

"It's a good thing we're not ranked," Sanders said. "When you get in the polls you get kind of fat and satisfied. We're a hungry team."

Sanders and the starving men in red and blue feasted, along with 8,671 loud friends, on visiting Vanderbilt Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum, taking a 73-61 victory. The Southeastern Conference win was the Rebels' third straight at home, fourth straight overall, and their sixth win in seven games.

"It's tough to play at Ole Miss," Vanderbilt's Matt Freije said. "A few times I couldn't hear myself. The crowd really made it hard for us to communicate with each other on the court."

Sanders leads charge

Win No. 17 didn't come without a breaking a sweat. The game was tied 49-49 with 8 minutes remaining.

Sanders helped lead the Ole Miss charge down the stretch, scoring on a steal and dunk to cap a 15-4 run to give his team take a 64-53 lead. He sealed the win with 1:07 remaining, nailing a 3-point jumper from the right baseline, giving the Rebs a 71-61 edge.

For the game, Sanders connected on 5-of-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line to finish with 15 points. He added seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

What about that 5-for-5 shooting performance?

"I can't remember playing a pickup game without missing a shot," he said, then smiled.

On the road again

Now Sanders and the Rebels take their "no respect" show on the road. First, it's a Saturday trip to No. 16 Georgia. Next Wednesday, they visit No. 7 Alabama, which popped Arkansas Wednesday night.

"It's going to be tough, but we handled our business at home," Sanders said. "As long as we take care of our home business it makes these road games a lot easier. We won't put as much pressure on ourselves.

"Now we've got to go out there with the attitude that we've got to go get us one."

Ole Miss has taken one on the road this season, beating Arkansas at Bud Walton. The road losses were to Tennessee and Kentucky.

"We're halfway there," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes noted. "I think this team is hungry to get better. They are happy and excited about the position we're in."

That's out of the polls, unknown ... and winning.

Gene Phelps is sports editor for the Daily Journal. E-mail him at

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