Local Athletics

Published on December 9th, 2020 | by TLV News

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Ole Miss Men’s Hoops Ready to Tip Off 2020-21 Season

Rebels Host Jackson State Thursday

GAME 1
Date: Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020
Time: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Arena: The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,500)
Television: SEC Network
    Paul Sunderland, play-by-play
    Jon Sundvold, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Sports Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Marc Dukes, analyst
Live Video: ESPN.com/ESPN app
Live Audio:OleMissSports.com/TuneIn app
Series: Ole Miss leads 3-0
Last Meeting: Nov. 25, 1999
    Ole Miss won 69-55
    Oxford, Miss.

TIPOFF TIDBITS
– Ole Miss is the last school from a Power 5 conference to start the 2020-21 season.
– This the latest start to the season for Ole Miss since opening up against Mississippi College (Dec. 11, 1948).
– Ole Miss opens its 111th season of basketball, including the 14th straight at home.
– The Rebels are 15-1 in season openers over the past 16 seasons.
– Ole Miss begins a stretch of four games in seven days, the most game in a one-week span since 2016; the first three games (over five days) are at home.  
– The Rebels are 37-0 all-time against current members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
– The media predicted the Rebels to finish ninth in the SEC; Ole Miss has finished higher than the preseason projection in seven of the last nine seasons.
– Ole Miss is the most experienced team in the SEC with 15,861 combined Division I minutes.
– Devontae Shuler was named Preseason Second Team All-SEC by the conference’s coaches.
– Ole Miss has produced 15 All-SEC guards over the past 14 seasons.
– Shuler was one of two guards to rank in the SEC top five in both steals (1.7 per game) and assist/turnover ratio (1.7) a season ago, joining Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans.
– Shuler ranks 10th in Ole Miss history with 142 career steals.
– The Rebels ranked 15th nationally in defending the three-point line last season; opponents shot 29.2 percent.
– Ole Miss is the only team in the country to sign two of ESPN’s top 10 grad transfers over the offseason (Dimencio VaughnRomello White).
– Matthew Murrell, ranked as the No. 39 prospect in last year’s class, begins his Ole Miss career as the highest ranked recruit in program history.
– Ole Miss must replace two-time First Team All-SEC guard Breein Tyree, who averaged 19.7 ppg last season to rank second in the SEC; Tyree finished his career with 1,779 points to rank seventh on the Ole Miss scoring list before signing a free agent contract with the Miami Heat this offseason.

LATE START
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the college basketball season was pushed back to November 25. Then, the virus hit the Rebels, forcing the cancellation of the Justin Reed Ole Miss Classic (Nov. 25-27) as well as a matchup against Memphis (Dec. 5). The program paused team activities until December 7. When the ball goes in the air Thursday night (Dec. 10), Ole Miss will be the final Power 5 team (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) to start its season. It’s been 72 years since the Rebels started a basketball this season this late, defeating Mississippi College to start the 1948-49 campaign (Dec. 11, 1948).

AND HERE. WE. GO.
Ole Miss will waste no time trying to get in non-conference games, scheduling four games in a span of seven days (Dec. 10-16). Playing every other day, it will be the first time the Rebels have played four games over a one-week span since Nov. 18-24, 2016. That week featured the Rebels advancing to the finals of the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands before returning home to beat Montana on Thanksgiving.

SCOUTING JACKSON STATE
– Finished 15-17 (11-7 SWAC) last season.
– JSU was on a five-game winning streak before COVID-19 forced an end to the season.
– One of the four teams scheduled to compete in the Justin Reed Ole Miss Classic, originally scheduled for Nov. 25-27.
– Coming off an 82-59 season-opening loss to Mississippi State (Dec. 8).
– The matchup with the Rebels is part of a five-game road trip to start the 2020-21 season.
– Senior Tristan Jarrett paced JSU in the loss to the Bulldogs with 17 points.
– Jarrett led the Tigers in scoring a season ago (16.8 ppg).
– Coached by Wayne Brent, who is in his eighth season as the Tigers’ head coach.

SERIES HISTORY
Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Jackson State 3-0, winning all three games in Oxford. This will be the first time the Rebels and Tigers will square off in the 21st century, as it has been 21 years since the last matchup. The two teams first met during the 1986-87 season with the Rebels claiming a 58-38 victory (Dec. 9, 1986). Four years later (Dec. 8, 1990), Ole Miss nearly eclipsed the century mark in a high-scoring win (99-80). In one of the final games before the new millennium, the Rebels cruised to a 69-55 victory (Nov. 25, 1999).

REBELS VS. SWAC
Ole Miss is 37-0 all-time against the current members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Along with going 3-0 against Jackson State throughout history, the Rebels have also faced Alabama A&M (3-0), Alabama State (7-0), Alcorn State (4-0), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-0), Grambling (2-0), Mississippi Valley State (6-0), Prairie View A&M (6-0) and Southern (2-0).

OLE MISS-JACKSON STATE CONNECTIONS
Jackson State head coach Wayne Brent spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Ole Miss (1999-2001), helping guide the Rebels to a trio of NCAA Tournament appearances. During his final season in Oxford (2000-2001), Ole Miss advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, the program’s longest run in the NCAA Tournament.

ON THIS DATE
On this date 47 years ago (Dec. 10, 1973), Ole Miss crushed Arkansas 117-66 at home. The 117 points was the second-most points ever scored by the Rebels (one off the school record), spanning 2,628 games over 110 years. The 51-point win was also the sixth-largest margin of victory in Ole Miss basketball history.

SUCCESS IN OPENERS
Ole Miss has won 15 of its last 16 season openers with the lone loss coming at the start of the 2014-15 season. The Rebels fell 66-65 to Charleston Southern, but still managed to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss opens the season at home for the 14th straight season.

SHULER TABBED PRESEASON SECOND TEAM ALL-SEC
For the second consecutive season, Devontae Shuler was named Preseason All-SEC by the conference coaches. After ranking fifth in the SEC in steals (1.7 per game) and assist/turnover ratio (1.7) a season ago, one of only two players conference-wide to finish top five in both categories, Shuler was tabbed Second Team All-SEC heading into his senior season. Shuler, the only fourth-year senior on the team, is the Rebels’ leading returning scorer (11.7 ppg) following the graduation of First Team All-SEC honoree Breein Tyree (19.7 ppg). Along with pacing Ole Miss in steals on the defensive end of the court, he also produced a team-best 3.3 assists per game. The Irmo, South Carolina, native put together five 20-point games throughout the 2019-20 season, including a career-high 28 points at LSU (Feb. 1). Playing in 97 games as a Rebel, Shuler has racked up 907 points as he nears the milestone of 1,000 career points. With 142 steals over the past three seasons, he already ranks 10th in school history on the career steals list.  

NEW, BUT EXPERIENCED BUNCH
The Rebels have several new faces on this year’s team, but that doesn’t mean they don’t lack experience. Four of the six newcomers are transfers, making the Rebels the most experienced team in the SEC in terms of Division I minutes (15,861). Graduate transfers Dimencio Vaughn (Rider) and Romello White (Arizona State) played three seasons apiece at their previous schools, while Robert Allen (Samford) and Jarkel Joiner (CSU Bakersfield) already boast two years of experience at the Division I level.

REPLACING TYREE
The Rebels have a big void to fill with the graduation of Breein Tyree, who signed with the Miami Heat on Sunday (Nov. 22). The Somerset, New Jersey, native ranked second in the SEC in scoring a season ago by averaging 19.7 ppg (36th nationally). Tyree put the team on his back at times, producing 15 games of at least 20 points that included a career-high 40 points against rival Mississippi State (Feb. 11). Earning First Team All-SEC accolades twice, Tyree etched his name in the Ole Miss record book for several categories.

CategoryRankStat
Points6th1,797
3-Pointers Made6th207
Free Throws Made9th384
Field Goals Made10th603
Assists10th325
Minutes Played10th3,634



GREAT GRAD TRANSFERS
Ole Miss added a pair of superb grad transfers in Dimencio Vaughn (Rider) and Romello White (Arizona State). Vaughn rated as high as the No. 4 graduate transfer according to 247Sports, while White ranked fourth on ESPN’s grad transfer list. Over 95 games for the Broncs, Vaughn scored 1,239 points and shot 47.4 percent from the floor while earning First Team All-MAAC honors twice. This past season, Vaughn averaged a team-high 14.8 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game to rank fifth in the conference in both categories. The New York City native added 1.8 steals per game to lead the Broncs (second in the league), and his 48.4 field goal percentage ranked eighth in the MAAC. Over three seasons at Arizona State, White started 92 of the 95 games he played for the Sun Devils. He tallied 927 points during his ASU career, averaging 9.8 ppg and shooting 60.5 percent from the floor (second on the program’s all-time list). During the 2019-20 campaign, White ranked second in the Pac-12 with 8.8 rebounds per game.

OXFORD’S OWN
Having to sit out a year after transferring from CSU Bakersfield, it’s been a long wait for Jarkel Joiner to play for his hometown school. Joiner brings an electric game to the Ole Miss backcourt, having led the WAC in scoring (18.6 ppg) and breaking the CSU Bakersfield single season scoring record (532 points) during the 2018-19 campaign. Before taking his talents out west, Joiner starred in Ole Miss’ backyard at Oxford High School. As a senior, he ranked fourth in the nation in scoring (36.5 ppg) to lead the Chargers to the state semifinals. Joiner was often found throwing alley-oops to fellow Oxford native and current Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.

LUIS IS BACK
Luis Rodriguez saw his 2019-20 campaign cut short just five games into the season, suffering a foot fracture during a pregame shootaround. At the time, he was a starter and ranked second on the team in rebounds (5.2 per game). The Los Angeles, California, native is back this season and was even granted a medical hardship by the NCAA, retaining his sophomore status.

ALLEN GRANTED IMMEDIATE ELIGIBILITY
After transferring to Ole Miss from Samford in the spring, forward Robert Allen was declared immediately eligible for the 2020-21 season. Allen was one of Samford’s leading scorers and rebounders over a pair of seasons. Playing 65 games for the Bulldogs, he averaged 12.0 ppg and 7.7 rebounds per game to go along with 11 double-doubles. Wrapping up his sophomore season, Allen finished with a team-high 43 blocks through 32 games. He scored 14.1 ppg and pulled down 7.0 rpg, ranking second on the team in both categories. His 1.3 blocks per game was third in the Southern Conference, while his rebounding average ranked fifth.

UNDERRATED REBELS
For the SEC’s annual preseason poll, a panel consisting of SEC and national media members picked the Rebels to finish ninth in the conference standings this season. That shouldn’t worry Ole Miss fans, as the Rebels have placed higher than the media’s projection in seven of the last nine seasons since the SEC went away from the divisional format. That includes the 2018-19 campaign when Ole Miss was predicted to finish last in the SEC, only to tie for sixth and return to the NCAA Tournament under first year head coach and 2019 SEC Coach of the Year Kermit Davis.

HOME COOKIN’
When the Rebels were victorious at home last season, they won in dominating fashion. Eleven of Ole Miss’ 12 wins in The Pavilion were by double digits, outscoring the opposition by an average of 18.5 ppg (77.5-59.0). The Rebels shot 49.9 percent in home victories. Meanwhile, Ole Miss held the opposition to 36.8 percent, including just 24.3 percent from three-point range. The Rebels finished with a 12-5 record at home last season.

PROTECTING CRADDOCK COURT
Winning at home has been a trademark at Ole Miss. Over the past 14 seasons, the Rebels are 166-52 (.761 win pct.) in home games. In four-plus seasons (opened January 2016) playing in the $96.5 million Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels hold a 53-26 (.671) advantage against the opposition. Ole Miss has won 291 of its last 375 games (.776 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign. Under head coach Kermit Davis, the Rebels are 23-10 (.697 win pct.) at home.

DEFENDING THE LONG BALL
Ole Miss was one of the best teams in defending the three-point line last season. The Rebels ranked 15th nationally as opponents shot just 29.2 percent from long distance. Ole Miss kept opponents under 25 percent in 10 games this season.

CLOSE HEARTBREAKERS
Close games went against the Rebels last season. Ole Miss was 1-6 in games decided by five points or less, including 0-5 in SEC play.

MARSHALL HENDERSON RETURNS TO OLE MISS
One of the most popular players in Ole Miss basketball history returned to campus when head coach Kermit Davis announced the addition of Marshall Henderson to his staff in August. Henderson, who led the Rebels to a SEC Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013, is serving as a graduate manager. In just two years in Oxford, Henderson quickly became a fan favorite. He gained national recognition for his intensity on the court and his sharp shooting from beyond the arc. Henderson made at least one three-pointer in all 66 games as a Rebel, setting an SEC record. He tallied 1,293 points, 21st in program history, and his scoring average (19.6 ppg) ranks seventh in the Ole Miss record books. Henderson made more threes than any other Rebel in a single season, draining 138 as a junior (SEC record at the time) before knocking down another 129 as a senior to earn All-SEC honors both seasons. The Hurst, Texas, native sits third all-time in three-pointers made (267) and free throw percentage (.857) over his career. After college, Henderson spent five years playing professionally before getting into coaching. He signed with the Sacramento Kings prior to the 2015-16 season and joined the organization’s NBA D League team, the Reno Bighorns (now called the Stockton Kings competing in the NBA G League). Henderson took his talents outside of the United States as well, playing in China, Italy, Iraq and Qatar. Making the transition to coaching, Henderson started at Birdville High School (North Richland Hills, Texas) in 2018. Last year, he was an assistant coach at Thomas University, an NAIA school in Georgia.

ANOTHER HISTORIC SIGNING CLASS
Kermit Davis announced the addition of three talented prospects on National Signing Day (Nov. 11). Daeshun Ruffin, Grant Slatten and James White all signed National Letters of Intent on the first day of the early signing period, planning to join the Rebels for the 2021-22 season. Davis and his coaching staff (Win CaseRonnie HamiltonLevi Watkins) continue to bring in the highest-ranked recruits Ole Miss has ever seen, putting together another top-30 class.

– Ruffin:  One year after Matthew Murrell became the highest ranked prospect in program history (No. 39 according to ESPN and 247Sports Composite Rankings), Davis and company signed Ruffin (No. 21 on ESPN’s Top 100). Averaging 26.9 ppg and 4.9 rpg throughout the season, including scoring at least 30 points in 11 games, he was tabbed the 2020 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year.
– Slatten: Ranked the No. 7 player in the state of Tennessee, Slatten has already scored more than 2,000 points over his career at White County High School. The 3-star guard averaged 26.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 3.9 apg as a junior, leading his team to a district championship.
– White: Another 6-foot-5 guard just like Slatten, White is a preseason all-state guard entering his senior season after earning all-state honors last year. He is the No. 9 player in the state of Georgia, according to 247Sports, as a scoring machine, tallying 724 points (24.1 ppg) during his junior campaign to rank among the state’s top five scorers.

ATTENDANCE PLAN
In accordance with the State of Mississippi’s most recent executive orders, The Pavilion at Ole Miss will be at 25 percent capacity for Rebel men’s and women’s basketball games to begin the 2020-21 season. Notably, face coverings are required for entry and at all times while inside the arena, except when actively eating and drinking. To meet SEC protocol, the lower seating area, including the student bleachers, courtside seats and lower rows of the Pavilion Club have been removed. Team benches have moved from the east sideline to the west.

NEXT ON THE HARDWOOD
The Rebels will have one day off before returning to action, continuing their three-game homestand against UNCW (Dec. 12). Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. CT on SEC Network+ as part of a doubleheader with the Ole Miss women’s team.

Ole Miss Lady Rebels Cruise to 104-48 Win Over Alcorn State
Ole Miss Rebels Tennis to Face NC State at ITA National Indoor Championships

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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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