Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Returns to Action vs. LSU
Published 8:53 am Monday, January 4, 2021
OLE MISS IN SEC OPENERS
Ole Miss enters Monday at 22-16 all-time in SEC overall openers and 24-14 in SEC home openers. This marks the first time Ole Miss and LSU have played in an overall SEC opener since Jan. 3, 2013 in Baton Rouge (L, 84-79) and the first time opening vs. LSU at home since Jan. 1, 2012 (L, 83-44). In overall openers, Ole Miss is 1-2 against the Tigers, with its lone win coming in Oxford on Dec. 12, 1984 (77-69).
The Rebels have been near-impossible to score on through six games in 2020-21, owning the NCAA’s second-best shooting defense (28.1 percent) and second-best scoring defense (48.3 PPG) — both of which lead the SEC. Furthermore, the national leaders in both categories, Utah Valley, has only played two games against six by Ole Miss.
It’s been an all-around team effort on the defensive side of the ball, as Ole Miss forcing the NCAA’s sixth-most turnovers per game (24.0) helped by the nation’s 7th-most steals (13.2), yielding the NCAA’s 5th-best turnover margin in 2020-21 at +9.2 per game.
Against McNeese State, Ole Miss held the Cowgirls to 18 percent from the field, the lowest by a Rebel opponent since 2016, and the 19 steals by the Rebels against MVSU tie for the single-game lead in the SEC this season and are the most by a Rebel squad since 2016. Ole Miss has forced at least 24 turnovers in four games and has forced at least 19 in all six games — with its most recent high of 29 vs. Jackson State.
That defensive hustle has produced results, holding the first four Rebel opponents to fewer than 60 points for the first time in program history, and notching the fifth-fewest points in program history vs. George Mason (34). The 290 total points allowed by Ole Miss stands as the fewest through six games in program history.
LEAVIN’ EM IN THE DUST
Ole Miss has gotten the upper hand from the jump on the offensive end in six bombastic victories thus far — including five wire-to-wire wins. On the year, the Rebels have only trailed for 11 seconds (vs. McNeese State) and have not led for a meager total of just 5:09, leaving the remaining 234:51 played as lead time for Ole Miss.
Total Minutes: 240:00
Ole Miss Lead Time: 234:51
Ole Miss Trail Time: 0:11
Time Tied: 4:58
Ole Miss is one of just three unbeatens left in the SEC and one of 23 left nationally this season, off to the first 6-0 start in program history since 2008-09 and the 12th total in 46 years. Ole Miss finished the non-conference season unblemished for the first time in program history, and a win vs. LSU on Monday would make the Rebels 7-0 for the first time again since that same 2008-09 season.
Best Starts in Ole Miss History
Final Record in Parenthesis
1986-87: 16-0 (25-5; Sweet 16)
1987-88: 15-0 (24-7; Sweet 16)
1988-89: 13-0 (23-8; Elite Eight)
2000-01: 11-0 (15-13; WNIT)
1994-95: 11-0 (21-8; NCAA Tournament)
1982-83: 11-0 (26-6; Sweet 16)
1975-76: 11-0 (19-8)
1981-82: 10-0 (27-5; NCAA Tournament)
1983-84: 8-0 (24-6; Sweet 16)
2008-09: 7-0 (18-15; WNIT)
2002-03: 7-0 (12-16)
1978-79: 7-0 (31-9)
The 2020-21 Rebel squad has gotten off to a spectacular start on both ends of the court, notching the fewest points allowed through six games in school history (290) and scoring the fourth-most in the same timespan (512) en route their first 6-0 start since 2008-09. Ole Miss scored at least 80 points in four of its first five for the first time since 2006-07 (after scoring 80 or more just twice in the entirety of the 2019-20 season) and has scored 90 or more twice after not doing so in an entire season since 2017-18.
The Rebels have posted two historic win margins as well, with a 56-point win vs. Alcorn State (104-48) and a 55-point win vs. McNeese State (99-44) ranking sixth and seventh in program history — the largest wins at Ole Miss since 2015. The 104-point outing vs. Alcorn State is the 35th 100-point game in program history and the first by a Rebel squad since 2015.
BALANCE IS KEY
Ole Miss’ superb early displays of offensive and defensive prowess through six games has launched the Rebels into the upper echelon of the national rankings. The Rebels are one of just four teams in the nation to rank in the top-20 in both scoring offense (17th, 85.3 PPG) and scoring defense (2nd, 48.3 PPG), the others being No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 UConn and No. 7 Baylor. Additionally, Ole Miss is one of just 12 in the NCAA to rank in the top-30 in both shooting offense (30th, 47.0 percent) and shooting defense (2nd, 28.1 percent).
The Rebels are also one of the most balanced teams in the SEC at the moment, ranking near the top in:
• Scoring Offense (2nd, 85.3 PPG), Scoring Defense (1st, 48.3 PPG), Scoring Margin (1st, +37.0 PPG)
• FG Percentage (4th, 47.0), FG Defense (1st, 28.1)
• Three-point shooting (2nd, 38.0), Three-point defense (3rd, 24.0)
• Assists (1st, 19.7), Steals (1st, 13.2), Turnover Margin (1st, +9.17), Assist/Turnover Ratio (4th, 1.3)
Ole Miss has been playing with the pedal down since its season began on Nov. 30, riding one of the nation’s most prolific offenses to a 6-0 record. The Rebels rank near the top of the NCAA in several key offensive categories, including:
• Scoring Margin: 5th (+37.0 PPG)
• Turnover Margin: 5th (+9.17)
• Assists Per Game: 11th (19.7)
• Scoring Offense: 17th (85.3 PPG)
• Assist/Turnover Ratio: 21st (1.3)
• 3PT Percentage: 28th (38.0)
• FG Percentage: 30th (47.0)
• Rebounds Per Game: 39th (44.2)
• FT Attempts: 41st (155)
• FT Made: 41st (108)
• Rebounding Margin: 44th (+8.5)
• Total Assists: 48th (118)
Additionally, Ole Miss leads the SEC in scoring margin by 10.4 PPG and assists by 2.0 per game.
Other impressive offensive notes among other SEC schools this season include:
• Two of top-five single-game assist totals of 26 vs. Alcorn State and 25 vs. McNeese State
• 104 points vs. Alcorn State rank No. 6 this season
• 40 field goals vs. Alcorn State ranks No. 6 this season
• 61.5 shooting percentage vs. Alcorn State No. 4 in the SEC, No. 18 in the NCAA
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).
AIN’T WASTING TIME NO MORE
The new crop of Rebels on the floor for Ole Miss this season has wasted no time in establishing their presence, scoring a combined 79.1 percent of all scoring through six games this season (405 of 512).
vs. McNeese State: 88 of 99 (88.9 percent)
vs. Kansas: 56 of 70 (80.0 percent)
vs. Alcorn State: 77 of 104 (74.0 percent)
vs. MVSU: 66 of 86 (76.7 percent)
vs. Jackson St.: 65 of 89 (73.0 percent)
at George Mason: 53 of 64 (82.8 percent)
Furthermore, the quartet of Shakira Austin (107 points), Donnetta Johnson (76 points), Madison Scott (73 points) and Snudda Collins (54 points) are all averaging more than nine points per game and are together accounting for 60.5 percent of all season scoring this year.
SHARING IS CARING
The Ole Miss offense has been highly efficient through six games, and that is due in large part to its ability to share the ball. The Rebels currently lead the SEC and rank 11th nationally with an average of 19.7 assists per game, helped greatly by four games of 20 or more assists. Since 1995, Ole Miss has had a max of six games with 20 assists or more, doing so twice in consecutive seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The Rebels own two of the five best assist outings in the SEC so far this year, with a 26-assist game vs. Alcorn State and a 25-assist contest vs. McNeese State. The 26 dimes by the Rebel offense vs. Alcorn ranks as the most since 2009. Ole Miss has tallied 20 in three consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 13-20, 2009.
Leading that charge is starting point guard Mimi Reid, who ranks second in the conference at 5.8 assists per game. Compounded with an average of 24.0 turnovers forced on defense against 14.8 Rebel turnovers, Ole Miss currently ranks fourth in the SEC and sits 21st in the NCAA in assist/turnover ratio at 1.4.
On the season, the Rebels are tallying an assist on 68.8 percent of their made field goals.
Percentage of FG with Assists
Game 1 (McNeese): 25-35 (71.4%)
Game 2 (Kansas): 16-25 (64.0%)
Game 3 (Alcorn): 26-40 (65.0%)
Game 4 (MVSU): 21-33 (63.6%)
Game 5 (Jackson St.): 20-27 (74.1%)
Game 6 (George Mason): 10-of-26 (38.5%)
Total: 118-of-183 (64.5%)
The Rebels simply couldn’t miss against Alcorn State on Dec. 8, nearly breaking the school record for single-game shooting percentage. Ole Miss wound up with the second-best mark in school history at 61.5 percent, helped greatly by a 64.7 percent first-half percentage that ranked as the best since 2014 (Jan. 16, vs. Vanderbilt, 68.0), and best in non-conference since 2009 (Dec. 20, vs. Winston-Salem State, 65.6). On the season, Ole Miss is shooting an SEC No. 4 ranked 47.0 percent from the field.
Single-Game FG Shooting, All-Time
1. vs. New Orleans (2004-05) – 63.1
2. vs. Alcorn State (2020-21) – 61.5
3. vs. Winston-Salem St. (2009-10) – 60.3
4. vs. Vanderbilt (1985-86) – 60.0
MAKING THE FREE ONES COUNT
Ole Miss has gotten to the free throw line quite a bit this season, hurting opposing teams for 108 free points of charity through six games. The Rebels have been helped greatly by two massive outings vs. McNeese State (27-39) and Jackson State (30-42), the latter of which constituted the most free throws made for Ole Miss since 2006 and the most attempted since 2012.
The secret to Ole Miss’ SEC No. 2 ranked three-point percentage of 38 percent has been to ride the hot hand. Through six games, five different Rebels have hit multiple threes in a game, with Snudda Collins and Donnetta Johnson hitting three or more. Of the 38 trifectas made this season, 12 have come from Collins, who ranks eighth in the SEC at 2.0 threes per game.
OFF THE LINE
Three-point defense has been a point of emphasis during the Coach Yo era, with 43 of 67 of her opponents being held to five trifectas or fewer.
1st Season (2018-19)
2nd Season (2019-20)
3rd Season (2020-21)
STEADY STARTING-FIVE FOR THE REBS
After a consistent rotation during her first two years at Ole Miss, Coach Yo has found a solid starting five in Shakira Austin, Mimi Reid, Donnetta Johnson, Taylor Smith and Madison Scott, who have started each of the first six games for the Rebels in 2020-21.
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. Ole Miss has not used a lineup six times in the same season since a seven-game stretch from Jan. 18 to Feb. 11, 2016.
BALL DON’T LIE
Ole Miss garnered national attention when it added ESPN’s No. 1 rated transfer in April, Shakira Austin of Maryland, and through six games as a Rebel she has not disappointed. Austin leads all Rebels and ranks sixth in the SEC with 17.8 points per game, while also chipping in 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.5 assists per game. The Preseason All-SEC honorre and Lisa Leslie Award Watch List member has especially been a dominant force down low for the Rebels in the early going, recording multiple blocks in four of her six games played — pushing her career total to games with multiple blocks to 30. Austin has also been in double-digits in each of her first six games as a Rebel, making her new career total 41. She recently recorded her 16th career double-double with a 22-point, 12-rebound performance vs. Jackson State, before upping her Ole Miss total to 24 points after a dominant showing at George Mason. Her 2.3 blocks per game currently put her No. 3 in the SEC and 30th in the NCAA.
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. 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.
Redshirt junior Mimi Reid returns as the Rebel with the most experience in 2020-21, with 60 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 ranks second in the SEC at 5.8 dimes per contest (33rd NCAA).
Reid also flashed some scoring aptitude since late last year, 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.
Five-star signee Madison Scott has proved why she was a top-flight recruit coming out of high school, playing a pivotal role for the Rebels through her first six games in an Ole Miss jersey. Scott leads all Rebels in rebounding and leads all SEC freshmen in both scoring (12.2) and rebounding (7.8). Furthermore, she ranks 14th among all freshmen nationally in rebounding (national leader is BYU’s Lauren Gustin at 12.4 per game).
Scott has been named the SEC Freshman of the Week twice already in her young career, winning back-to-back weeks on Dec. 15 and Dec. 23. She recorded her first career double-double vs. Jackson State on Dec. 15 (15 points, 10 rebounds), and notched a career-high 17 points vs. MVSU on Dec. 12. Scott put forth an eye-opening performance on the glass vs. Kansas, nabbing a game and career-high 10 rebounds, five of which came in a crucial spot for the Rebels in a dominant fourth quarter vs. the Jayhawks. There has only been one game this season in which Scott has not hauled in at least seven boards (3, vs. McNeese State).
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.
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.
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.
THE WAIT IS OVER
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 dynamic scoring option for the Rebels, ranking second on the team with an average of 12.7 points through her first six 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.
Sophomore Tiya Douglas came to Ole Miss with a reputation as a sharpshooter from beyond the arc, opening her Rebel career 5-of-5 from distance and currently sitting second on the team with a 7-of-13 clip from three. Douglas has hit multiple threes in two of her last three games, which is nothing new for her after hitting an NJCAA record 13 threes in a single game her freshman year at Trinity Valley Community College, where she was a 2020 WBCA Honorable Mention All-American.
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. Bracey eclipsed the double-digit line for the first time in her career vs. Alcorn State, pouring in 12 points off the bench.
DUMITRESCU OUT FOR SEASON
Redshirt freshman Sarah Dumitrescu suffered another devastating knee injury vs. Alcorn State on Dec. 8, ending her season prematurely for the second consecutive season. Dumitrescu tore her left ACL late in the fourth quarter against the Lady Braves in excruciating fashion, a heartbreaking setback for the Romanian native who tore her right ACL on Nov. 26, 2019 vs. Sam Hosuton State, ending her true freshman campaign just seven games into the slate.
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).