• 66°

A new opportunity for Ole Miss basketball

It’s time for SEC basketball, the community’s annual winter entertainment.

The Ole Miss men’s team gets it started before we ring in the New Year, hosting South Carolina in a 5 p.m. game on Sunday, Dec. 31. It’s a different kind of New Year’s Eve party.

If that seems more like a good time for a college football bowl game, it is. But, to fit in the conference schedule the league begins playing games now before New Year’s Day, meaning TV can be accommodated as well as a long schedule.

Ole Miss hosts Mississippi State just days later, on Jan. 6, so we will quickly find out if the Rebels can make the Pavilion a friendlier home than it was this non-conference season.

Wins over South Carolina and Mississippi State could engage fans and give Ole Miss a shot at a postseason run.

The Rebels have improved a bit in recent games, after losing three straight non-conference contests at home. Their defense is better and Andy Kennedy appears to have a better idea of what rotations work.

We hope so, anyway. This Rebel team is improved in talent but was so weak defensively early in the season that the Pavilion was friendlier to visiting teams.

But the SEC season is a new season, full of opportunity. Let the games begin.