Local Athletics

Published on November 9th, 2021 | by University of Mississippi


Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Opens 2021-22 Season vs. New Orleans Tuesday, November 9

Ole Miss LogoOLE MISS (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
vs. NEW ORLEANS (0-0, 0-0 Soutland)

Tuesday, November 9 • 6:30 p.m. • Oxford, Miss.
The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss

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OXFORD, Miss. – The wait is over for Ole Miss men’s basketball, which opens its 2021-22 regular season at home, christening the newly renamed Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss with a tilt vs. New Orleans on Tuesday evening. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT inside SJB Pavilion, and the game will stream live on SEC Network+.
Ole Miss Rebels (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Head Coach: Kermit Davis • 4th Season at Ole Miss (51-42) • 520-305 career record (27th Season)
New Orleans Privateers (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
Head Coach: Mark Slessinger • 12th Season at UNO (131-165) • 131-165 Division I career record (12th Season)
Television/Online: SEC Network+
Play-by-Play: Richard Cross
Color: John Stroud
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Play-by-Play: David Kellum
Color: Marc Dukes
Kermit Davis enters his fourth season at the helm of Ole Miss Basketball. Over his first three seasons, Davis led the Rebels to a pair of postseason appearances (2020 postseason was cancelled due to COVID-19). With 51 victories as head coach of the Rebels, Davis is one of only four coaches in Ole Miss history to rack up at least 50 wins over their first three seasons. A nine-time conference coach of the year, Davis is 38th among active Division I head coaches with 454 career wins over 23 seasons, including stints at MT, Idaho and Texas A&M. In 26 seasons as a college basketball head coach, he has amassed 520 wins.

Jarkel Joiner, the hometown Rebel, returns for his senior campaign after averaging 12.0 ppg as a junior. The Oxford native made an impact in his first season, ranking second on the team in scoring with the help of five 20-point games. Joiner was a team-best 84.5 percent from the free throw line, which ranked third in the SEC.

Luis Rodriguez, the team’s leader in rebounds and steals a season ago, is back as well. After breaking is foot five games into the 2019-20 season, the Ole Miss wing bounced back with a strong season. His 45 steals ranked fifth in the SEC, while his 176 rebounds were ninth in the conference. Ole Miss also returns four Rebels who found themselves in the rotation off the bench last year. Robert Allen and Matthew Murrell played in all 28 games during their first season in Oxford, while also making a total of 11 starts between the pair. Austin Crowley and Sammy Hunter came off the bench as sophomores, playing in 27 and 25 games, respectively.

The newcomers feature three transfers with a plethora of college basketball experience. Jaemyn Brakefield (Duke) Nysier Brooks (Miami, FL) and Tye Fagan (Georgia) have played a combined 241 games at the Division I level. Following his freshman season at Duke, Jackson, Mississippi, native Brakefield decided to return home. Brooks brings his rebounding skills to the Rebels after leading the Hurricanes on the glass a season ago. After scoring a team-high 19 points to lead Georgia to a road win over Ole Miss last season, Fagan decided to join the Rebels to provide additional SEC experience to the squad.

A quartet of freshman are led by Jackson, Mississippi, native Daeshun Ruffin. The guard decided to remain in the Magnolia State to continue his career, becoming the first McDonald’s All-American to sign with Ole Miss out of high school. Grant Slatten was runner-up for Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee and scored a school-record 2,765 points over his high school career. Eric Van Der Heijden led Millbrook High School to an undefeated record and their first state title, averaging a double-double (18.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg). James White tallied 27.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.0 apg as a senior to earn first team all-state accolades in Georgia.

The Rebels must replace First Team All-SEC guard Devontae Shuler, who also won the Howell Trophy as the best college basketball player in the state of Mississippi. Shuler finished his career ranked 20th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,319 points. He ended his career third in steals (185), eighth in three-pointers made (178) and 10th in assists (329). Ole Miss also lost Romello White, a graduate transfer who left his mark in his lone season as a Rebel. White (11.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) shot 64.9 percent from the field throughout the 2020-21 season, setting a new school record.

Ahead of the season, a panel consisting of SEC and national media members picked the Rebels to finish ninth in the conference standings this season. The Rebels have placed higher than the media’s projection in eight of the last 10 seasons since the SEC went away from the divisional format. That includes last year when Ole Miss was predicted to finish ninth in the SEC, only to place sixth and become a top seed in the NIT.

In January 2016, the $96 million Pavilion at Ole Miss opened its doors to Rebel fans. About to begin its fifth full season, the home of Ole Miss Basketball has a new name. Now, the state-of-the-art basketball and event arena has been officially named the Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss in recognition of a $10 million gift from the Madison, Mississippi, couple. Longtime supporters, the Blacks said they wanted to make a gift they could enjoy with their family: three adult children, eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter – most of whom attended Ole Miss. John Black, a University of Mississippi Foundation board member, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the university in 1961 and a master’s degree in accountancy in 1962. He was a Taylor Medalist and member of Omicron Delta Kappa academic honorary and Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Sandy Black attended the university and was a member of Phi Mu sorority.

On Jan. 18, the Rebels found themselves 6-6 (3-4 SEC) and ranked 85th in the NET. However, Ole Miss went on the road and dominated rival MSU 64-46 before picking up another win over Texas A&M. After back-to-back road losses sent them back to .500 (8-8, 3-6 SEC), the Rebels reeled off four straight victories. With three of those wins coming against ranked teams, and winning eight of the past 11 games, Ole Miss moved up to No. 53 in the NET and into the conversation as a bubble team. The Rebels had a strong case to make the NCAA Tournament.
– One of seven teams in the nation to be undefeated against top-25 teams
– One of only three teams to have at least three wins against ranked teams without a loss: No. 1 Gonzaga (4-0), Ole Miss (3-0), No. 13 Florida State (3-0)
– Seven Quad 1-2 wins
– Two wins over top-10 teams (Tennessee, Missouri)
– Have held four SEC teams to 50 points or less (first time since 1948)
– Led the SEC in scoring defense (65.4), rebounding defense (31.7), defensive rebounding percentage (.721) and offensive rebounding percentage (.341) during conference play
– Undefeated (12-0) when limiting opponents under 40 percent from the field
The Rebels lead the all-time series vs. New Orleans, 4-1. This marks the first meeting between the Rebels and Privateers since Dec. 6, 2008, when the Rebels went on the road and won, 85-77. This is the first trip to Oxford for New Orleans since Nov. 30, 2006, when Ole Miss prevailed, 78-65.
All-Time Series vs. New Orleans
Dec. 7, 1983 – L, 87-73 (at UNO)
Dec. 15, 1984 – W, 55-51 (in Oxford)
Dec. 29, 1987 – W, 83-74 (at UNO)
Nov. 30, 2006 – W, 78-65 (in Oxford)
Dec. 6, 2008 – W, 85-77 (at UNO)
SEC LEADERS (2020-21)
– The Rebels led the SEC in scoring defense (65.4), rebounding defense (31.7), defensive rebounding percentage (.721) and offensive rebounding percentage (.341) during conference play.
– Ole Miss ranked second in the SEC in rebounding margin (+3.4) during conference games.
– Jarkel Joiner ranked third in the conference in free throw percentage (84.5).
Head coach Kermit Davis loves a team that plays good defense with toughness. The Rebels have put up some historical defensive numbers this season. Ole Miss had the best scoring defense (65.4) and rebounding defense (31.7) in SEC play.
– Held a 12-0 record when limiting opponents to under 40 percent from the floor
– Limited four SEC opponents to 50 points or less, the most in a season since 1948
– Six games surrendering 50 points or less (first time since 2003-04 season)
– Kept 12 opponents under 60 points, including seven SEC foes and all three ranked teams
– With wins over Mississippi State (64-46) and Texas A&M (61-50), held SEC opponents to 50 points or less in back-to-back games for the first time since 1980
– Kept first four opponents under 60 points, accomplishing the feat for the first time since the 1944-45 season (76 years)
– Fewest points allowed (316) over the first six games of the season since the 1980-81 campaign (307)
After going one full year without playing (season-ending foot injury on November 27, 2019), Luis Rodriguez has returned to become a leader for the Rebels. The Los Angeles, California, native paced the team in rebounds (6.3 per game) and steals (1.6 per game) to go along with 7.6 ppg. He was sixth in the SEC in steals with the help of 16 multi-steal games. In the win over UNCW (Dec. 12), Rodriguez produced his first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds at Dayton (Dec. 19), the most by a Rebel since Sebastian Saiz pulled down 15 in the NIT quarterfinals versus Georgia Tech (March 21, 2017). In the win over No. 10 Missouri (Feb. 10), Rodriguez scored a career-high 15 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds.
Ole Miss has 20 victories over top-10 teams throughout its history with two of them coming last season. Earning wins over No. 10 Tennessee (Feb. 2) and No. 10 Missouri (Feb. 10), the Rebels now have three top-10 victories in three seasons under Kermit Davis. Only Rod Barnes (5) and Bob Weltlich (4) have more top-10 wins as Ole Miss head coach.
When the Rebels win, they usually win big.
– Eleven of the team’s 16 victories last season were by double digits, including seven by at least 17 points.
– Dating back to 2019-20, 23 of 31 wins have been double-digit victories.
Ole Miss guard and Oxford native Jarkel Joiner landed on the SEC Men’s Basketball Community Service Team for his efforts in his hometown. The junior is involved in several community service projects in his hometown. Joiner regularly reads to students across his home state of Mississippi as a part of our Reading with the Rebels Program. He has been able to share stories selected by teachers to promote reading and good behavior in elementary schools. Joiner is passionate about this activity and encourages students to read frequently and to others. He joined this program as a part of the Stronger Together MS initiative that focuses on promoting reading by students in Pre-K through 3rd grades. Joiner also led efforts for Adopt A Basket, feeding local families during the holiday season. He helped spearhead the project, giving back to the local community to ensure those in need have food during this time. Finally, since student-athletes were not been allowed into local schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joiner and his teammates found opportunities to engage with elementary students virtually to encourage hard work in the classroom.
Winning at home has been a trademark at Ole Miss. Over the past 15 seasons, the Rebels are 176-56 (.759 win pct.) in home games. In five-plus seasons (opened January 2016) playing in the $96.5 million SJB Pavilion, the Rebels hold a 63-30 (.677) advantage against the opposition. Ole Miss has won 301 of its last 389 games (.774 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign. Under head coach Kermit Davis, the Rebels are 33-14 (.702 win pct.) at home.
Ole Miss put together a dominating defensive performance in the victory over UT Martin (Dec. 22), holding the Skyhawks to 43 points. It tied for the lowest opposing output by a Kermit Davis-coach Ole Miss squad alongside last season’s opener versus Arkansas State (43). The 43 points were tied for the fifth-fewest by an Ole Miss opponent over the last 21 years, and it marked the 14th time the Rebels held an opponent to 45 points or less during that span, including the second last season.
Points              Opponent                    Date
33                    LSU                              Feb. 7, 2001
38                    Southern                     Nov. 20, 2014
38                    Arkansas-Pine Bluff     Dec. 28, 2002
41                    Nicholls                       Jan. 3, 2009
43                    UT Martin                   Dec. 22, 2020
43                    Arkansas State            Nov. 8, 2019
43                    Nicholls                       Dec. 15, 2005
43                    ULM                            Nov. 29, 2005
43                    ULM                            Dec. 3, 2001
44                    Alabama State             Dec. 30, 2003
45                    Jackson State              Dec. 10, 2020
45                    Lipscomb                     Nov. 23, 2012
45                    Arkansas                     March 6, 2004
45                    Morris Brown             Nov. 28, 2001

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About the Author

The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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