Mississippi-Xavier Preview

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Forgive Stefan Moody, M.J. Rhett and their Mississippi teammates for looking and feeling a little drained Wednesday.

After all, they played a physically grueling First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday night, flew three hours to Jacksonville in the middle of the night, got a few hours' sleep, then arrived at the arena for a shootaround about 18 hours after wrapping up the come-from-behind victory against BYU.

Now, the 11th-seeded Rebels hope to catch a second wind before playing sixth-seeded Xavier (21-13) in the NCAA Tournament's West Region on Thursday.

''It was hard for me to sleep,'' said Rhett, who scored a career-high 20 points in the 94-90 victory. ''I was a little excited and just thinking about everything that happened.''

Coach Andy Kennedy plans to get his team a little extra rest before their afternoon tip-off.

''We had to expend so much energy in order to come back,'' Kennedy said. ''So we want to make sure our guys are rested physically because we know the challenge Xavier is going to present.''

Ole Miss had lost four of five heading into Tuesday's game, and the Rebels looked like they would exit the NCAA Tournament with a whimper in the first half against the Cougars.

Instead, they rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit, using a 15-2 run midway through the second half to take the lead. Moody finished with 26 points and hit a late 3-pointer that helped complete the comeback.

''We just feel like we belong here and we want to show people that we belong here,'' Rhett said. ''We're hungry and we don't want to go home.''

Neither does Xavier, which lost in the Big East championship game. The Musketeers might have more rest, but they have about the same amount of prep time.

''Just as their travel was rough, you know, being able to prepare essentially in 36 hours for a team isn't easy, either,'' Xavier coach Chris Mack said. ''Both teams are in the same situation. I'm sure by the time game time comes around, both teams will be very well prepared.

''And by this time of the year, you really focus more importantly on what your own team does, not necessarily trying to take away every little play and counter what the other team is running.''

Aside from the tight turnaround, here are some other things to know about the Rebels and the Musketeers:

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SEC FAMILIARITY: Xavier is playing its fourth game against the Southeastern Conference, coming in with a 2-1 record against the league that put two teams in last year's Final Four. The Musketeers beat Alabama and Missouri on consecutive Saturdays in early December and then lost at Auburn in double overtime. ''I wouldn't necessarily say styles of play are very similar,'' Mack said. ''I think each coach and each program has its own stamp. But I think the caliber of athlete, the size of athlete that you face in the SEC, especially in the front court, is as good as there is in college basketball.''

KENNEDY'S CONNECTION: Kennedy spent five seasons (2001-06) as an assistant at Cincinnati, so he knows as well as anyone about Xavier's program. ''It allows me to give our guys perspective,'' Kennedy said. ''I've got great respect for Chris Mack and the Xavier program. I have experienced that firsthand, the tradition, the pride that goes into the building of that program.''

MACURA MENDS: Musketeers guard J.P. Macura is on the mend and expected to play against Ole Miss. A freshman from Lakeville, Minnesota, Macura sprained his right ankle in the Big East Tournament and missed the championship game against Villanova. He averages 5.6 points a game and shoots 34 percent from 3-point range. ''He's doing great,'' Mack said. ''I certainly expect him to go. I know he's anxious to go. He's really recovered well and nicely since he twisted it against Georgetown, and we're going to need his play.''

BACK FOR MORE: Xavier is in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Only 11 schools have accomplished the feat. The Musketeers are 10-8 in their previous eight berths, winning at least two tourney games in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012. ''We think that if we're on top of our game, we can compete with anybody,'' forward Trevon Bluiett said. ''It's definitely going to be a big win for us, hopefully, if we come out on top.''

UGA COMPARISON: The Rebels compared Xavier to Georgia, saying the teams run similar styles and sets. Ole Miss better hope for better results since the Bulldogs won both meetings this season.

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