Local Athletics

Published on December 7th, 2020 | by TLV News


Ole Miss Lady Rebels Take on Alcorn State in Oxford Tuesday, December 8

OLE MISS (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
vs. ALCORN STATE (0-2, 0-0 SWAC)

Tuesday, December 8 • 6 pm • Oxford, Mississippi
The Pavilion at Ole Miss

Ole Miss women’s basketball will look to improve to 3-0 when it welcomes Alcorn State to Oxford on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 6 pm CT inside The Pavilion and on SEC Network+.
Ole Miss Rebels (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
Head Coach: Yolett McPhee-McCuin • 3rd Season at Ole Miss (18-45) • 112-108 career record (8th Season)
Alcorn State Lady Braves (0-2, 0-0 SWAC)
Head Coach: Nathaniel Kilbert • 1st Season at Alcorn State (0-2) • 179-348 career record (19th season)
Television/Online: SEC Network+
Play-by-Play: Seth Austin
Color: Lindsay Roy
Radio: 105.1 FM
Audio: TuneIn
Play-by-Play: Graham Doty
Series History
Ole Miss leads, 15-1
Current Streak
Ole Miss, 15
First Meeting
Jan. 12, 1980
• L, 70-66, at Alcorn
Last Meeting
Nov. 29, 2019
• W, 73-55, in Daytona Beach
• Game 1 of Daytona Beach Invite
• Ole Miss: shot 51.7 percent, held Alcorn to 31 percent (18.9 in the 1st Half)
• Combined 87 points in 2nd Half
• Out-rebounded Alcorn, 52-32
• Valerie Nesbitt: 20 points (15 in 4th Q)
• Taylor Smith: 13 points
• Rebels ride to 70-53 win over Kansas
• First Big 12 win since 2007 (vs. Oklahoma, Sweet 16, 90-82, March 25)
• First win over a non-conference Power 5 opponent since 2016 (vs. No. 25 Oregon, 83-67, Dec. 14 in Oxford)
 • First wire-to-wire win vs. Power 5 opponent since Jan. 20, 2019 vs. Florida (W, 76-66)
• Won 4th Quarter 21-8, closed on 13-3 run
• Forced 25 turnovers, held opponent under 60 for second straight game. First time opening a season holding first two opponents to 60 points or fewer since 2016-17
• Donnetta Johnson: career-high 21 points, four steals, three rebounds, two assists. Scored 14 in the first half
• Shakira Austin: 18 points, five rebounds, two blocks. Missed 2nd Quarter due to fouls
 • Madison Scott: 6 points, 10 rebounds (5 boards in the 4th Quarter)
• Quotable: “I felt good, I felt free. I was able to play the game that I love. I had the opportunity to play tonight and we came out with a win. I was excited to get on the floor with those girls and show the world what we’re capable of.” – Donnetta Johnson
The new crop of Rebels on the floor for Ole Miss this season has wasted no time in establishing their presence, scoring a combined 85.2 percent of all scoring through two games this season (144 of 169).
vs. McNeese State: 88 of 99 (88.9 percent)
vs. Kansas: 56 of 70 (80.0 percent)
Furthermore, the duo of Donnetta Johnson (31 points) and Shakira Austin (30 points) are singlehandedly accounting for 36.1 percent of all season scoring this year.
Ole Miss has been hard to score on through two games, currently owning the SEC’s top-ranked scoring defense (14th NCAA) at 48.5 points allowed per game, with its 97 tota points allowed ranked as the sixth-fewest through two games in program history. Rebel opponents have mustered a mere 25 percent from the field (1st SEC) and a 22.2 percent clip from beyond the arc (2nd SEC). Against McNeese State, Ole Miss held the Cowgirls to 18 percent from the field (the lowest by a Rebel opponent since 2016). It hasn’t been just poor opponent shooting, though, as the Rebels have been disrupters as well, averaging 4.0 blocks (T-6th SEC) and 10.0 steals (4th SEC) per game thus far, and forcing 25 turnovers in each of their first two games.
The Ole Miss offense has been highly efficient through two games, and that is due in large part to its ability to share the ball. The Rebels currently lead the SEC with an average of 20.5 assists per game, helped greatly by 25 dimes in the season opener vs. McNeese State, the most by an Ole Miss team since 2016. Leading that charge is starting point guard Mimi Reid, who leads the conference at 6.5 assists per game. Compounded with an average of 25 turnovers forced on defense against 15 Rebel turnovers, Ole Miss currently stands No. 2 in the conference in assist/turnover ratio at 1.4.
Ole Miss opened the 2020-21 season with some fireworks, dropping 99 points on McNeese State in a flurry of scoring. The point total stands as the most ever scored in the Coach Yo era, and the most by a Rebel team in a season opener since 2005 (110, vs. Rice). Of that 99, 88 points came from newcomers and five brand new Rebels were in double-digit scoring.
With a slew of new faces on the Ole Miss roster, the Rebels now own the 10th- youngest roster in the nation with an average age of 19.67 as of Nov. 25. Furthermore, Ole Miss is one of just three programs nationwide with its entire roster to have two or fewer years of Division I experience at the start of the year (alongside Indiana State and Murray State).
Ole Miss enters the third season of the Coach Yo era with Yolett McPhee-McCuin at the helm in 2020-21.
McPhee-McCuin took over a Rebel program her first year that had just four returners and willed it to outperform all the preseason polls that picked Ole Miss unanimously to finish last. Coach Yo followed that up by signing the SEC’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2019, highlighted by five-star signees Madison Scott and Jacorriah Bracey, and improved by the addition of ESPN’s No. 1 rated transfer in 2020, Shakira Austin.
Being in the SEC means facing some of the toughest schools in the nation, and Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has had a tough road through her first two seasons in Oxford. Coach Yo’s Rebels have gone up against 13 nationally ranked squads in two years at Ole Miss, 12 of which have come in SEC play. Ole Miss has one win against those 12, a 55-49 upset over No. 16 Kentucky in Lexington on Jan. 13, 2019, which marked the first ranked road win by a Rebel team since 2011 and the first win at UK overall since 2007.
vs. Ranked Schools (First Year)
#2 UConn – Nov. 22, 2018 (L, 90-50)
#16 Kentucky – Jan. 13, 2019 (W, 55-49)
#6 MSU – Jan. 27, 2019 (L, 80-49)
#20 Texas A&M – Feb. 3, 2019 (L, 72-60)
#12 S. Carolina – Feb. 7, 2019 (L, 76-42)
#6 MSU – Feb. 21, 2019 (L, 88-60)
vs. Ranked Schools (Second Year)
#10 Texas A&M – Jan. 6, 2020 (L, 79-35)
#23 Tennessee – Jan. 9, 2020 (L, 84-28)
#9 MSU – Jan. 26, 2020 (L, 80-39)
#1 S. Carolina – Jan. 30, 2020 (L, 87-32)
#23 Arkansas – Feb. 16, 2020 (L, 108-64)
#14 Kentucky – Feb. 20, 2020 (L, 94-52)
#9 MSU – March 1, 2020 (L, 84-59)
Ole Miss welcomes a revamped roster for the 2020-21 season, which includes six newcomers (four freshmen, two transfers), as well as three who sat out last season in Donnetta Johnson (Georgia transfer), Andeija Puckett (Cincinnati transfer) and Caitlin McGee, who enrolled at Ole Miss one year early in 2010-20.
The Rebels signed the SEC’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class in 2019, who will hit the floor for the first time in an Ole Miss jersey this Monday. Five-star signees Madison Scott (No. 13 overall) and Jacorriah Bracey (No. 48 overall) highlighted the group, and were bolstered by three-star prospects Snudda Collins (No. 4 in Mississippi) and Caitlin McGee.
Scoring: 42.0% (23.8 of 56.6 PPG)
Three-Pointers: 18.8% (31 of 165)
Rebounds: 44.6% (12.3 of 27.6 RPG)
Assists: 56.2% (7.0 of 12.4 APG)
Blocks: 15.0% (0.4 of 2.7 BPG)
Steals: 53.6% (3.9 of 7.3 SPG)
Minutes: 46.8% (94.0 of 200.8 MPG)
Ole Miss proved difficult to damage from distance in 2019-20, holding opponents to five or fewer three-pointers in 21 of 30 games.  In the Coach Yo era, three-point defense has been a point of emphasis, holding opponents to five threes or fewer in 40 of 63 games in her three seasons
Ole Miss used 20 different starting lineups in 30 games of the 2019-20 season. In Coach Yo’s first season with the Rebels, Ole Miss used 17 different starting lineups through 31 total games played. Through two games in 2020-21, Coach Yo has stuck with the same starting five: Shakira Austin, Mimi Reid, Donnetta Johnson, Taylor Smith and Madison Scott.
Redshirt sophomore Donnetta Johnson waited a long time to play basketball again after sitting out 2018-19 due to NCAA transfer rules. She has quickly asserted herself as a dynamite scoring option for the Rebels, leading the team with an average of 15.5 points through her first two games played. Johnson put on a show on national TV vs. Kansas, dropping a career-high 21 points and showcasing her signature ambidextrous style of shooting. Johnson had already eclipsed her career high by the 7:23 mark of the second quarter, an electric first half that helped propel Ole Miss to a 70-53 win over the Jayhawks.
Johnson played in 27 games and started eight her freshman season at Georgia in 2018-19 before transferring to Ole Miss and sitting out last season. At Georgia, Johnson sparked the Bulldogs in a historic upset over No. 13 Tennessee, which earned her SEC Freshman of the Week honors. Johnson was the No. 28 guard nationally coming out of Baldwin High School in Queens, New York.
Freshman Snudda Collins opened her Ole Miss career in historic fashion vs. McNeese State on Nov. 30, leading all scorers with 23 points off the bench with a 5-of-8 clip from beyond the arc to boot. The three-star signee out of Brookhaven, Mississippi was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for her efforts, and her 23 points stand as the most ever by a Rebel freshman in a season opener (in available records). Collins was the leader of a bevy of newcomers on the floor vs. the Cowgirls, who combined for 88 of the 99 total points Ole Miss scored — the most in the Coach Yo era and the most by a Rebel squad in a season opener since 2005. Furthermore, her 23 points are the most by any Rebel in a season opener since 2017 and stand as the most scored by an SEC freshman this season. At Brookhaven High School, Collins helped lead her team to the 5A state title game her senior season to cap off an extraordinary career that saw her average 12.0 points and end as the No. 4 ranked prospect in Mississippi.
Ole Miss garnered national attention when it added ESPN’s No. 1 rated transfer in April, Shakira Austin of Maryland. Austin was a significant contributor on two Big Ten championship teams at Maryland in 2019 and 2020, averaging 10.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, while shooting 47.2 percent overall in 66 games and 47 starts during her two years with the Terrapins. Austin shattered the Maryland single-season blocks record her freshman season with 89, earning her a spot on both the Big Ten Defensive Team and All-Freshman team, and followed that up with a slot on the 2020 All-Big Ten Second Team after ranking No. 1 nationally in 2019-20 in advanced analytic On-Court Forced Turnover Rate (via Pivot Analysis). Coming out of Riverdale Baptist, Austin was ESPN’s No. 3 overall prospect and a McDonald’s All-American.
Through two games with the Rebels, Austin has been a focal point of the offense and defense, averaging 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.
Five-star signee Madison Scott hit the court for the first time in an Ole Miss jersey on Nov. 30, helping lead an impressive charge of newcomers with her 15 points. Scott followed that up with a superb effort on the glass vs. Kansas, cleaning up 10 boards while chipping in six points. She was crucial in a dominant fourth quarter for the Rebels, during which she nabbed half of her 10 rebounds.
Scott, the No. 13 national prospect out of Bishop McNamara in Maryland, is the first McDonald’s All-American in Ole Miss women’s basketball history (and just the second overall). Scott had a prolific career at Bishop McNamara, which was capped off by a senior season in which she was named the Washington Post Metro Player of the Year after notching a line of 13.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.8 steals and a .570 shooting percentage her senior season.
Redshirt junior Mimi Reid returns as the Rebel with the most experience in 2020-21, with 56 career starts to her name. The Bronx native has finished each of her first two seasons at Ole Miss ranked in the top-10 in the SEC in assists, finishing last season seventh at 4.1 per game, and she has showed no signs of slowing down in 2020-21 as she currently leads the SEC at 6.5 dimes per contest (21st NCAA).
Reid also flashed some scoring aptitude late in the year as well, averaging 15.4 points and shooting 43.6 percent overall in a five-game stretch from Feb. 13-27 last year. In all five games Reid scored in double digits (she had never done so in three straight prior to 2019-20) and her offensive prowess was highlighted by a career-high 21 points at Tennessee on Feb. 27, the first time she had broken 20 points in her career. Furthermore, Reid hit 18 straight free throws across four games from Feb. 16-27, ending up with a 19-of-22 (.864) line in that stretch.
Fellow five-star signee Jacorriah Bracey was a superb scorer at Thomas E. Edwards High School in Drew, Mississippi, averaging a sublime 31.2 points and 6.3 assists per game throughout her entire career. She finished off her high school career with an out-of-this-world senior year, recording 35.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists en route to a 3A state runner-up finish and Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year honors.
Returning for the Rebels in 2020-21 are senior Valerie Nesbitt, juniors Iyanla Kitchens, Mimi Reid, Andeija Puckett, and Taylor Smith, sophomores Jordan Berry and Donnetta Johnson and redshirt freshmen Sarah Dumitrescu and Caitlin McGee. Puckett will miss the entirety of 2020-21 due to a knee injury suffered in preseason camp, Johnson hits the floor for the first time this season after sitting out the 2019-20 season, and Dumitrescu returns to the floor following a gruesome knee injury that cut her freshman season short.
Redshirt freshman Sarah Dumitrescu is healthy and ready for action after suffering a season-ending ACL injury seven games into her freshman season in 2019-20. At the time of her injury, Dumitrescu was Ole Miss’ top rebounder at 7.3 per game, with a career-high 11 boards against New Orleans. Dumitrescu was awarded a medical hardship waiver from the SEC, giving her back a clean slate at a freshman season. Dumitrescu added four points and five rebounds in her return to action vs. McNeese State.
Ole Miss received heartbreaking news during the preseason, with redshirt junior Andeija Puckett going down with a season-ending knee injury after sitting out all of 2019-20 due to NCAA transfer rules. Puckett transferred to Ole Miss from Cincinnati, where she contributed for two seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Puckett played in all 35 games for the Bearcats in 2018-19, averaging 4.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game for a Cincinnati team that advanced to the WNIT quarterfinal. Coming out of Griffin High School in her native Georgia, Puckett was rated a three-star recruit by ESPN after a prolific high school career that saw her leave Griffin as its all-time leader in scoring (1,330) and rebounds (790).
Junior Taylor Smith was always known for her smooth mid-range jumper, but she recently developed that just a few feet backward into a deadly three-point shot late last season. With just three trifectas in her career entering a Feb. 13 contest at Florida, Smith drained three from beyond the arc — including two in a row — to help stimulate what ended up as an electric outing for the Rebel offense. Smith kept it up against No. 23 Arkansas, going a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and hitting all six of her first shots, ending with 17 points. Smith followed that up with a 3-of-7 three-point shooting effort at Missouri as part of her career-high 21 points. In a five-game stretch from Feb. 13-27, Smith averaged 13.6 points and 2.0 threes per game, while shooting .456 overall and .526 from three. Prior, she was only averaging 4.7 points per game.

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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