Published on December 2nd, 2020 | by TLV News0
Ole Miss Lady Rebels to Host Kansas Jayhawks Thursday, December 3
Ole Miss women’s basketball faces an early test when it will welcome the Kansas Jayhawks to Oxford for the first time ever for the 2020 SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7:30 pm CT inside The Pavilion and on SEC Network.
Ole Miss Rebels (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Head Coach: Yolett McPhee-McCuin • 3rd Season at Ole Miss (17-45) • 111-108 career record (8th Season)
Kansas Jayhawks (2-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Head Coach: Brandon Schneider • 6th Season at Kansas (56-97) • 457-235 career record (24th season)
ON THE AIR
Television/Online: SEC Network
Play-by-Play: Roy Philpott
Color: Steffi Sorensen
OLE MISS RADIO
Radio: 105.1 FM
Play-by-Play: Graham Doty
SERIES NOTES vs. KANSAS
Ole Miss leads, 2-0
Ole Miss, 2
Nov. 27, 1988
• W, 61-40, in Aruba
• Aruba Sunshine Shootout
• Held Kansas to then-program record 10 points in the second half
• Ole Miss would advance to its third Elite Eight in five years later that year
March 19, 2006
• W, 78-76, in Lawrence
• WNIT First Round
• Armintie Price: season-high 31 points
• Ole Miss erased 16-point second half deficit
• Ashley Awkward (16 points): GW jumper with 18 seconds left
SEC/BIG 12 CHALLENGE
Ole Miss is set to welcome Kansas to Oxford for the first time for the 2020 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The inaugural Challenge was held in 2014, with the first 10-game slate occurring in 2016. The SEC edged the Big 12, 6-4, that year, with the conferences splitting the Challenge, 5-5, the next two seasons before the Big 12 won in 2019.
Each season, 10 institutions from the SEC will square off against all 10 schools from the Big 12. The format includes five home games on campus sites for each conference per season, and teams will not face the same opponent twice.
Ole Miss has taken part in the Challenge three times, traveling to No. 16 West Virginia on Dec. 4, 2016 (L, 66-61), hosting TCU on Nov. 29, 2018 (L, 55-50) and again hitting the road to Texas Tech on Dec. 4, 2019 (L, 84-48).
2020 Big 12/SEC Challenge Matchups
South Carolina at Iowa State
Kentucky at Kansas State
Alabama at Oklahoma State
Texas A&M at Texas
Tennessee at West Virginia
Baylor at Arkansas
Kansas at Ole Miss
Oklahoma at Georgia
TCU at Missouri
Texas Tech at Vanderbilt
LAST TIME OUT (VS. MCNEESE STATE)
• Ole Miss opened 2020-21 after delay
• Dominant 99-44 win over McNeese State
• Most points in Coach Yo era, most in an opener since 2005 (110, vs. Rice)
• Held McNeese to 18 percent shooting (lowest allowed by Ole Miss since 2016)
• Newcomers: 88 of 99 points
• Five Rebels in double-digits did not play at Ole Miss last year
• Snudda Collins: 23 points, 5-of-8 3PT (most points by a Rebel freshman in their debut in available records)
• Others in double figures: Donnetta Johnson (10), Caitlin McGee (13), Madison Scott (15), Shakira Austin (12)
• “We’re used to (protocols). The goal is for our players to be safe and for us to play basketball. I don’t care if I have to wear a hazmat suit, that’s what I’ll do to be able to do something that I love.” – Coach Yo
With a slew of new faces on the Ole Miss roster, the Rebels now own the ninth- 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).
YEAR THREE FOR COACH YO
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.
COACH YO VS. THE TOP-25
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)
RELOADED FOR 2020-21
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.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
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.
WHAT RETURNS IN 2020-21
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)
OFF THE LINE
Ole Miss proved difficult to damage from distance in 2019-20, holding opponents to five or fewer three-pointers in 21 of 30 games this season. The Rebels were particularly stout from beyond the arc in the last month of the season, stifling Alabama (3-of-20), Vanderbilt (3-of-8) and Florida (3-of-11) to a 9-of-39 clip (.231) in three straight from Feb. 2-13. The Rebel defense held Louisiana to a season-low 1-of-10 clip from the three-point line, the third time in the last two seasons that Ole Miss has held an opposing team to one three-point field goal.
In the Coach Yo era, three-point defense has been a point of emphasis, holding opponents to five threes or fewer in 39 of 62 games in her three seasons. Her first season, Ole Miss held 17 opponents to 30 percent or less from three, including 12 that shot 25 percent or worse and four that haven’t been able to break 20 percent. The year before, Ole Miss held opponents under 30 percent just 10 times all season.
VARIETY IN THE STARTING LINEUP
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.
NICE SHOOTIN’ KID
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.
BALL DON’T LIE
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. In her Ole Miss debut, Austin chipped in 12 points, six rebounds and four demonstrative blocks on defense.
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, 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.
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.
BACK FOR MORE
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 junior Mimi Reid returns as the Rebel with the most experience in 2020-21, with 55 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. 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.
THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART
Redshirt sophomore Donnetta Johnson has been waiting a long time to play basketball again, and she got her shot vs. McNeese State, scoring 10 points and adding career highs in rebounds (6) and assists (4). 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 per NCAA rules. 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.
LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY
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.
PUCKETT OUT FOR SEASON
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).
OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS
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.