The Ole Miss Rebels failed in their first game as a favorite against a top-caliber team in the loss to Kentucky Tuesday night. The Rebels are meant to be the feisty underdogs that fight hard and win the game through willpower and toughness. Not being an underdog hindered the Rebels performance, and will continue to do so unless something changes.
Part of the Rebels threat was the outstanding depth that Ole Miss possessed. Unfortunately, the Rebels lost two of their best off-the-bench players, as Nick Williams is out indefinitely due to a foot injury and Aaron Jones due to an ACL tear. These injuries cut drastically into the Rebel bench that has played outstanding all season.
As devastating as these injuries may seem, these key losses may be just what the Rebels need. Ole Miss needs to play with a chip on their shoulder. Recently, Ole Miss went from a team that looked like it wanted to win, to the Marshall Henderson show. Henderson is great, but his success has taken away from what this team was really good at — winning against all odds.
Ole Miss needs a push to start playing their game again. The lack of depth will put this team back into the underdog role, where the Rebels are more than comfortable. Ole Miss is a great team, but without a chip on their shoulder, should flounder out of the NCAA tournament in the first round. These key injuries may push them back to where the Rebels need to be mentally.