Vanderbilt is coming off a 22-point loss in which it showed few signs of life.
Mississippi is reeling after a 20-point defeat, its worst of the year.
If logic holds, both teams should be starving for a victory tonight when they meet at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss.
“Both of us were taken to the woodshed a bit in our last games,” Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. “It will be interesting to see who can get up off the mat.”
No. 19 Vanderbilt bolted to a school-record 17-0 start. No. 24 Ole Miss started 13-0, also the best in school history. Both have spotless records at home.
Their troubles took root when they ventured onto the road in Southeastern Conference play. Both are 0-3 away from home, and the recent results have not been pretty.
The Commodores were crushed 86-64 Sunday at Florida, while Ole Miss was pounded 86-66 Saturday at Mississippi State.
For both, the bloom is off the rose.
“We’re not worried about Mississippi,” VU coach Kevin Stallings said. “We’ve got to fix us. We’re our problem right now. We have to fix what we’re doing wrong to have any chance to compete with a good team like them.”
Added Kennedy: “Our guys continue to make some of the same mistakes. I’m trying to be as patient as possible.”
Two truths about Vanderbilt’s road woes are clear:
• Its three losses have come at Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida, regarded as three of the toughest venues in the SEC.
• The Commodores have become less competitive on the road with each passing game, culminating with Sunday’s loss in which Florida’s 23-0 first-half run removed all suspense.
Stallings admitted that his team appeared rattled at Florida’s O’Connell Center.
“Some guys didn’t know what to expect and know how to deal with the change in intensity when we got to league play,” Stallings said. “Some guys are having trouble with the road environment and the crowds. It’s a case where some of them haven’t been through it before and it’s caught them a little off guard.
“Maybe you lose more confidence that way. We’ve had a tough stretch, no question, and have a tough stretch still in front of us.”
Three of Vanderbilt’s next four games are on the road before beginning a four-game home stand Feb. 12.
When the Commodores play at South Carolina on Feb. 9, they will have played six of their first eight SEC games on the road.
“You don’t get that very often in this league,” Stallings said. “We’ve got to figure out how to win some road games and get tougher and play the way you have to to win on the road.”
GOLD NUGGETS: Stallings is 2-2 at Tad Smith Coliseum. Vanderbilt has won only two of its past 10 games in Oxford. …The Commodores are giving up 76.4 points per game, the highest in the SEC. …Ole Miss center Dwayne Curtis leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (68.4), is second in rebounding (8.7 per game) and 14th in scoring (15.2 ppg.).