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Ole Miss begins key stretch at No. 9 Oregon

Ole Miss is off to another good start to a season. On Sunday they get a chance to show if they are a pretender or a contender.

The Rebels travel to Eugene and take on No. 9 Oregon at 3 p.m. CT (Pac-12 Network) in their first big test of the season.

It is the first of a two-game road trip to the Pacific Northwest with Ole Miss (9-1) playing Portland State on Tuesday with a 10 p.m. CT tipoff.

It is a return game from last season when the Rebels hosted then No. 25 Oregon and defeated them 83-67.

“Oregon is really good and we’ll have to have our A game,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell said. “We’ll have to play really well against them and we know that. Oregon is a Final Four team. They’re a team that’s got a chance to be in the Final Four. I wish we were playing them full strength. I wish we were playing with everybody on our roster like I did last year. But, I like where we’re at.”

Insell will be without his key senior Shandricka Sessom who went down with a torn ACL against Middle Tennessee State earlier this month. When the Rebels played Oregon last year Sessom scored eight points and pulled down six rebounds.

Oregon (8-2) is the Rebels’ first of three Top-10 opponents in their next seven games. The other two are No. 4 South Carolina (Jan. 4) and No. 5 Mississippi State (Jan. 11). Ole Miss’ RPI is currently sitting at No. 42 in Warren Nolan’s rankings. The Ducks are sitting at No. 17 even after a loss on the road against Mississippi State on Wednesday. It would give Ole Miss a Top-20 RPI win if they could come away with the victory and give and boost an already solid resume even more.

Their next two opponents are above 150 with Portland State (2-5) sitting at 179 and Texas Southern (3-4) at 151.

“It’s going to be a fun game,” Insell said of Oregon. “It’s going to be a back and forth game. I can tell you that. …They’re really good but we’re really good, too. It’s a game that’s not going to hurt us one way or another in the RPI. It’s a game where we got a great opportunity to get a big win over a Top-10 team. I feel very confident we can win this basketball game.”

In their 90-79 loss against Mississippi State, Oregon’s leading scorer Sabrina Ionescu was held to 15 points while Ruthy Hebard scored 25. As a team Oregon is averaging 40.4 rebounds a game, which was an issue for Ole Miss on Tuesday when Southern Mississippi out-rebounded them by 10.