KJ Buffen

Ole Miss forward KJ Buffen works againsTennessee guard Santiago Vescovi on Tuesday night.

OXFORD For Ole Miss, football’s national signing day will culminate with a basketball game, as the Rebels try to get back in the win column.

Ole Miss snapped a six-game losing streak at Georgia on Jan. 25 but began another last week with back-to-back losses against ranked foes Auburn at home and LSU on the road.

It’s a 6 p.m. tip at The Pavilion, and the game will air on the SEC Network.

Saturday’s 73-63 loss at LSU left the Rebels below .500 under Kermit Davis for the first time.

Davis last coached a team with a losing record in the fifth of 16 seasons at Middle Tennessee State when the Blue Raiders finished 15-17.

He hopes the Rebels can improve defensive positioning and foul less.

Free pitches

SEC opponents have attempted 25 or more free throws against the Rebels five times.

LSU attempted 34 free throws.

“We’ve done it at times. We’ve guarded the dribble. We had the same plan (at LSU) we had at home,” Davis said “We weren’t really down in great stances, didn’t make the court look full, and they just drove it.

“We got all of our bigs, one had four fouls, one had three, one had three at halftime.”

All three of those bigs – Blake Hinson, KJ Buffen and Khadim Sy – would eventually foul out.

Auburn attempted 36 free throws in the Rebels’ last home game, an 83-82 double overtime loss. Even Georgia in the Rebels’ win attempted 25 free throws.

Ole Miss (10-11, 1-7 SEC) likely won’t have to worry about fouling energetic South Carolina (13-8, 5-3 SEC) swing man Justin Minaya, a 6-6 guard/forward, who injured his thumb late against Missouri earlier this week.

Averaging 7.8 points and 6.1 rebounds with a team-leading 19 blocked shots, Minaya has been a crucial component in the Gamecocks’ recent surge. They’ve won five of their last six, including a home win against Kentucky and a win at Arkansas.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin didn’t rule out Minaya earlier this week but also wasn’t optimistic that he’d play.

“It’s part of the equation when you coach basketball when you coach basketball at South Carolina. There’s a large cloud that sits over this campus that constantly just craps on you anytime your team plays well,” he said. “It’s not under me. Go backwards. Just keep going. It’s unbelievable.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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