OXFORD • Kermit Davis might have been aware of the special number around this latest Ole Miss-Auburn game, but his wife Betty made sure he understood.
If the Rebels upset the No. 17- ranked Tigers tonight, Davis – the second-year Ole Miss coach – will pocket his 500th career win.
“Yes, (Betty) was telling me that,” Kermit Davis said.
It’s an 8 p.m. tip at The Pavilion, and it’ll be seen on ESPNU.
Davis enters with a 499-285 record in his 25th season as a head coach.
The record includes three seasons of junior college ball, two at Southwest Mississippi Community College and one at Chipola (Florida).
Davis has 432 Division I wins, many of those at Middle Tennessee State where he was 332-188 in a 16-year run.
He remained on win No. 498 for 28 days through a span of six-straight losses before the Rebels (10-9, 1-5 SEC) broke through 70-60 at Georgia on Saturday.
“It’s a milestone that means a lot. You reflect on a lot of good players, good coaches and good places that I’ve been,” Davis said. “It’s a lot of wins spread out through the country. It just means you’ve coached for a long time which we’ve been very, very lucky to do.”
Davis is 30-22 at Ole Miss. Five of those wins have come against Georgia’s Tom Crean and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl who have 957 wins between them.
Ole Miss swept Auburn and Georgia last year.
Getting past Georgia on Saturday required Ole Miss to show some toughness it had not exhibited in its six-game skid.
The Rebels led the Bulldogs by 11 points early in the second half but fell behind by one with 12 minutes, 31 seconds remaining.
They responded by pushing the lead to double figures again.
“That was especially good on the road, and Georgia’s been such a good home team,” Davis said. “The only team that had beaten them there is Kentucky.”
Aside from 2 minutes for freshman Sammy Hunter, Davis used only seven players at Georgia yet the Rebels were still able to get scoring help for Breein Tyree from Khadim Sy (16) and K.J. Buffen (14).
It’s an experienced Auburn (17-2, 4-2 SEC) lineup that stands between Davis and No. 500. The Tigers start four seniors and a freshman.
Auburn won its first 15 games before losing back-to-back at Alabama and Florida.
The Tigers are coming off wins against South Carolina and Iowa State last week.
“They’re an older team with a lot of seniors that you really don’t see at our level much,” Davis said. “I just hope win No. 500 comes sooner than win No. 499.”