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Welcome to the ACC/SEC Challenge: Ole Miss

Our first of two true road games this week

NCAA Basketball: Vegas Showdown-N.C. State at Vanderbilt Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

When: Tuesday November 28 - 9:00 PM

Where: Pavilion at Ole Miss, Oxford Mississippi

Opponent: Ole Miss Rebels (SEC Conference)


Preseason Conference Prediction: 10th (of 14) in the SEC

Pomeroy Prediction: NC State 76-73

Wolfpack Snapshot: 4-1, KP #56

The story line for Ole Miss basketball this season is going to be their new coach. They hired Chris Beard as their head coach in March a couple of months after he was dismissed mid-season from Texas under unpleasant circumstances. Obviously, the school is hoping that any attached negativity is soon forgotten if they start rolling up wins after going 76-82 and having only two winning records in the last five seasons under Kermit Davis.

Chris Beard can definitely coach! He honed his craft working for Bobby Knight for 10 years at Texas Tech. He has had an interesting career path. His first college coaching job was at Lamar State College – Port Arthur, he lasted six days trading up to a better position at McMurry University. He announced himself to the college basketball world as an ‘up and coming coach to watch’ in 2015 when he was the head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock and went 30-5, went to the NCAAT and upset Purdue in the first round. He left after one season. On March 27, 2016 he was hired at UNLV, three weeks later he quit and was hired for ‘his dream job’ at Texas Tech. He had them in the Elite Eight two years later in 2018 and in 2019 he took the Red Raiders to the finals, losing to UVA. In 2021 his alma mater Texas lured him away and they made it to the 2nd round of the NCAAT in his only full season.

The Season So Far

The Rebels (KP #127) are 5-0 on the season , having beaten Alabama St (KP #350) 69-59, Eastern Washington (KP #201) 75-64, Detroit Mercy (KP #312) 70-69, Sam Houston (KP #143) 70-67, and won a road game at Temple (KP #165) 77-76.

Team Statistical Comparison

Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PT pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PT pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
NCS 82.6 46.30% 35.10% 7.8 35.8 15 8.8 9.4 2.8
Ole Miss 72.2 44.60% 33.70% 6 36 16.8 10 8.4 5.6

New Coach / New Roster

Six players graduated and four transferred, but Coach Beard held onto their two best players, high scoring wing Matthew Murrell and, former Duke player, forward Jaemyn Baker. He brought in 3 high school players including top 100 recruit Rashaud Marshall who is expected to add depth at forward this season. He pulled six players from the transfer portal, including former DJ Horne teammate at AZ St Austin Nunez. The highlights of the transfer class are post players Jamarion Sharp and Moussa Cisse, and wing Brandon Murray.

Transfer Purgatory

Ole Miss has two players waiting on transfer waivers, both of whom are expected to be starters when the NCAA allows them to play.

  • Moussa Cisse (7’0”) – former 5-star center, most recently at Oklahoma State. 6.8 Ppg, 8 Rpg, 1.9 Bpg
  • Brandon Murray (6’5”) – former 4-star wing, most recently at Georgetown. 13.7 Ppg, 3.2 Apg, 1.4 Spg

Ole Miss Probable Starters

Player Class Pos Height Weight PTS 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST BLK STL
Player Class Pos Height Weight PTS 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST BLK STL
Flanigan SR G 6'6" 215 20.2 50% 1.6 7.2 2.2 1 2
Murrell SR G 6'4" 200 14.4 25% 5.6 5 4 0.4 1
J. Murray JR G 5'11" 170 12.4 37% 5.4 2.4 3.8 0.6 1
Brakefield SR F 6'8" 220 5 17% 2.4 4.6 2.2 0.2 0
Sharp SR F 7'5" 235 5 5 1 2.8 1

Keys To The Game

While the Rebels have assembled a talented team, the strength and identity of this team will be the coach. Coach Beard’s teams are always well prepared, they play tough and smart, they don’t make a lot of mistakes, and they play defense well. It is highly likely they will exceed their SEC 10th place preseason prediction and if they get their requested transfer waviers approved, they could definitely surprise the pundits and make the NCAAT. A win in this one could look really good on our resume by the end of the season.

  • Guard the Guards - They have three players averaging in double figures, the starting guards, Flanigan, Murrell, and Murray. The first player off the bench will be guard Caldwell, he averages 9.4Ppg. No one else is averaging more than 5 points per game.
  • Guard the arc - Ole Miss is averaging 33.7% from 3PT, the same as the Pack. However, Coach Beard believes this will be a very good 3PT shooting team as evidenced by their most recent game on the road at Temple where they went 10-18 for 55.6%. They average 19 attempts per game, the three guards take 12.6 of those. (see the previous bullet point)
  • Focus on Flanigan - Their best player so far is wing guard Allen Flanigan. (think DPJ as a senior) He leads the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, FG attempts and made FG. He’s only taken 8 3PT shots on the season, but he hit 4 of them. He’s been to the free throw line more than twice as often as anyone else on the team, and shoots 77.5%. He scored a team season high 29 points against Eastern Washington and had a team season high 12 rebounds against Alabama St. I would guess that JT will have this assignment, however he is 6’6”, so DPJ might get to spend some quality time with him as well.
  • Keep a Sharp eye out – (VERY!) Big man Jamarion Sharp had the nation’s best block rate last season at Western Kentucky. He was the Conference USA DPOY in 2022 and 2023. He blocked an amazing 148 shots in ‘21-22 and 131 shots last season. (Bates’ best was 82, Anya’s was 91) He has blocked at least 2 shots per game this season, his best game was 4. He averages about 20 minutes per game but hasn’t yet picked up more than 2 fouls in a game. This will help prepare DJB to take on 7 footer Quinton Post in the upcoming BC game.
  • The Rebels block a lot of shots pt 2 - The math is very straightforward. The Rebels as a team average 5.6 blocked shots per game. Sharp averages 2.8 Bpg individually. The Pack averages 2.8 Bpg as a team. (see?) Sharp blocks as many shot as we do. The Rebels have totalled 8 blocked shots in two games so far this season. When Sharp is on the bench, based on game stats, it looks like they primarily go with 4 guards and move Brakefield (1 blocked shot this season), to center.