Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Closes Non-Con Action vs. Samford Tuesday

Published 1:57 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss men’s basketball looks to close out its non-conference season in strong fashion when it hosts Samford for its final game before the holiday break on Tuesday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT inside The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss and live on SEC Network+.

TEAM FACTS

Ole Miss Rebels (8-3, 0-0 SEC)
Head Coach: Kermit Davis • 4th Season at Ole Miss (59-45) • 528-308 career record (27th Season)

Samford Bulldogs (9-2, 0-0 SoCon)
Head Coach: Bucky McMillan • 2nd Season at Samford (15-15) • 15-15 career record (2nd Season)

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SERIES HISTORY VS. SAMFORD
Ole Miss holds a 3-0 edge in the all-time series against Samford, with Tuesday afternoon’s tilt registering as the first between the Rebels and the Bulldogs since New Year’s Eve 2002. The series opened on Dec. 5, 1977, with an 81-68 Rebel win in Birmingham, followed by two more victories in Oxford on Dec. 8, 1984 (80-66) and the aforementioned last meeting on Dec. 31, 2002 (57-49). Overall in the series, the Rebels are winning by an average scoring margin of 11.7 points.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 31, 2002 (W, 57-49, in Oxford)
• Ole Miss (9-2) extended home win streak to 20 games, the second-best in program history
• Streak started on Dec. 3, 2001 (78-43 vs. ULM) and ended with the Samford victory (streak snapped vs. Tennessee on Jan. 11, 2003 (66-64)
• Ole Miss: 42 percent shooting overall
• Justin Reed: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4-of-7 FG, 7-of-17 FT
• Emmanuel Wade: 10 points

SCOUTING SAMFORD
Samford stands at 9-2 overall on the season and have won seven of its last eight games. Included in that stretch is a Power-5 win at Oregon State on Nov. 18, when the Bulldogs prevailed, 78-77. Samford shoots a high volume from beyond the arc, holding the NCAA’s 18th-most threes attempted this season (335) as well as its 22nd-most threes made per game (10.3) — setting up a battle against a stout Rebel three-point defense currently owning the NCAA’s No. 26 opposing three-point percentage. The Bulldogs are also skilled on the defensive end, leading the SoCon with 17.1 turnovers forced per game (33rd NCAA) and 8.5 steals per game (2nd SoCon, 56th NCAA).

Leading the way for Samford is Ques Glover, who is averaging 19.1 points and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the floor and 89.1 percent from the free throw line (33rd NCAA). Jermaine Marshall is nearly averaging a double-double at 12.4 points and 9.2 boards per game. Marshall leads the SoCon and ranks 31st nationally at his 9.2 rebounds per game, and also ranks 17th nationally with his five double-doubles this season (1st SoCon).

LAST TIME OUT (vs. Dayton: W, 76-68)
• Ole Miss: season-high 57.1 percent shooting (best since 59.3 vs. UT Martin last season)
• Ole Miss forced 19 turnovers that wound up as season-high 25 points off turnovers
• Rebels tied season-high with 11 steals
• Both teams combined with 84 points in the paint (42 apiece)
• Daeshun Ruffin: 19 points (17 in second half)
• Nysier Brooks: 16 points, 11 rebounds, career-high 3 steals (7th career double-double, 2nd as a Rebel)

RUFFIN RETURNS IN BIG SPOT
Ole Miss freshman Daeshun Ruffin has returned from a four-week absence in dynamic fashion, averaging 15.5 points, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and shooting 50 percent overall and 72.2 percent from the free throw line over his last two games against Middle Tennessee and Dayton. Ruffin suffered a fractured hand in the second half of the season opener against New Orleans, and missed the subsequent four weeks of action. Ruffin first saw the floor again against Middle Tennessee on Dec. 15, scoring 12 points in just 12 minutes of action — nine of which came in the first half as he came off the bench. Ruffin followed that up with a splendid showing against Dayton, scoring a career-high 19 points after a powerful 17-point second half to help lift the Rebels to victory. Ruffin hit 9-of-12 from the free throw line against the Flyers, and in his two games back from injury his 13 free throws made account for 44.8 percent of all Rebel free throws made (29). With 31 points in just 28 minutes played in his first two games back from injury, Ruffin is currently averaging roughly 1.1 points per minute played in that stretch. Ruffin is the first McDonald’s All-American signee in program history following a storied career at Callaway High School in his native Jackson, Mississippi.

OFF THE LINE
It’s been difficult to damage the Rebels from distance, but especially so over the last handful of games. Ole Miss has held four of its last five opponents to 22.2 percent or lower from beyond the arc, the lone outlier being a 36.8 percent showing from Western Kentucky on Dec. 11. In the last five games, Rebel opponents are 18-of-88 (.205) from three — with seven of those coming from WKU. In those four wins against Rider (2-of-13), No. 18 Memphis (2-of-11), Middle Tennessee (3-of-27) and Dayton (4-18), Rebel opponents are shooting a combined 11-of-69 (.159). On the season, Ole Miss has held four opponents below 18.2 percent, also holding Elon to 3-of-17 (.176) on Nov. 19. The Rebels currently rank 26th nationally and second in the SEC with a season opposing three-point clip of 27.4 percent. In the Kermit Davis era, Ole Miss is 29-15 when holding opponents to 30 percent or lower and 47-23 when holding opponents below 40 percent from deep.

RECORD WIN STREAK AT SJB PAVILION
With its 76-68 win over Dayton on Dec. 18, Ole Miss extended its home win streak at SJB Pavilion to nine games — the longest Rebel home win streak since The Pavilion opened in January 2016. Ole Miss is 7-0 at home this season, with the other two victories coming at the tail end of the 2020-21 season against Kentucky (March 2, 2021; 70-62) and Vanderbilt (March 6, 2021; 56-46). The Dayton game marked Ole Miss men’s basketball’s 100th game at SJB Pavilion, where the Rebels enjoy a 70-30 (.700) all-time record.

CHEF BROOKS IS COOKING
A noted chef in his own right, Ole Miss graduate transfer Nysier Brooks is also starting to cook on the court as one of just two Rebels to start all 11 games so far this year. Brooks is in the midst of his longest double-digit scoring streak so far as a Rebel at three straight, averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in that stretch. Brooks recorded his seventh career double-double and second as a Rebel against Dayton on Dec. 18, playing a crucial role in the victory with 16 points, 11 rebounds, one block and a career-high three steals alongside an 8-of-12 line from the field — which ties his career-high in field goals made. Brooks was equally as important in the second half for the Rebels against Middle Tennessee, scoring all 12 of his points in the back half and cleaning up the glass with eight boards. Brooks recently had a torrid two-game stretch rebounding the ball, hauling in a combined 25 rebounds (10 offensive) in back-to-back outings vs. Mississippi Valley State (10 rebounds, 5 offensive) and Rider (15 rebounds, 5 offensive). Brooks’ 15-rebound game vs. Rider tied a career high and stands as the best single-game rebounding output since Sebastian Saiz tallied 17 vs. Georgia Tech in the 2017 NIT. On the year, Brooks ranks sixth in the SEC at 7.8 rebounds per game and is also averaging 9.0 points. He has hauled in at least six rebounds in all but one game this season, and he also tallied three blocks in back-to-back games vs. Rider and Memphis.

JOINER CAN’T MISS
Senior Jarkel Joiner has been surgical from the free throw line this season, currently ranking sixth in the SEC at his overall percentage of 84.8. Recently, though, he has been even more reliable from the charity stripe, hitting 19 of his last 20 free tries, including his last 13 in a row dating back to Ole Miss’ upset over No. 18 Memphis on Dec. 4. Joiner’s last miss on the free throw line came at the 5:37 mark of the second half vs. Memphis, his last before finishing that game 5-of-5 from the line. Joiner finished 2020-21 third overall in the SEC in free throw shooting at 84.5 percent.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
After not getting to the line very often to start the season, the Rebels have been getting to the charity stripe and using it to great effect in the process. After starting the season just 17-of-31 (.548) from the free throw line, Ole Miss has since been 114-of-160 (.713) since playing Elon on Nov. 19. During its three-game winning streak that started on Nov. 26 vs. MVSU, Ole Miss went 54-of-76 (.711) — which accounted for 25 percent of all Rebel scoring during the streak — and over its last two wins over Middle Tennessee (13-20) and Dayton (16-21) the Rebels are shooting 29-of-41 (.707). Ole Miss averaged 13.0 trips to the free throw line in its first five games of the season, but has gone on to average 21 free throw attempts in its last six games since Nov. 26.

PROTECT THE BALL
Ole Miss has forced double-digit turnovers in all 10 of their contests so far this season, and have yet to turn the ball over more than they have forced their opponents to. The Rebels hold a season turnover margin of +3.5 (46th NCAA), and are fourth in the SEC in fewest turnovers per game (11.7). In the Kermit Davis era, the Rebels are 47-19 when having fewer turnovers than their opponents, and are 36-13 when forcing 15 turnovers or more.

TIGHT SHIP
Team defense has been a calling card of the Rebels in the early going, holding opponents to 70 or fewer nine times in 11 games, including 60 or fewer in five of their last eight outings — capped by a season-low 51 to Rider. Disruption and mayhem have led to plenty of buckets in transition for Ole Miss, with their turnover margin (+3.5) helping lead to a nearly identical Rebel advantage in both points off turnovers (174-102) and points on the fastbreak (130-89). Luis Rodriguez has been helped lead that charge for the Rebel defense, currently ranking 14th in the SEC in steals per game (1.6).

PUTTING THE TEAM ON HIS BACK
Senior Jarkel Joiner has proven his veteran leadership in the early stages of the season, not only leading in several categories but by also rarely leaving the floor. Joiner ranks second in the SEC in minutes played per game at 33:09, and he has put the team on his back with the SEC’s sixth-best free throw percentage (.848) and 10th-most points per game (14.7). In his career, Joiner averages 30.7 minutes played per game in 103 career games played and 95 career starts. Joiner has scored in double digits in 10 of 11 games this season, as well as 16 of his last 18 dating back to last season.

KEEP SHOOTING, MATT!
Sophomore Matthew Murrell’s offensive awakening could not have come at a better time for the Rebels, helping lead the Rebels to a three-game winning streak thanks in part to riding Murrell’s hot hand from beyond the arc. Murrell set a career-high in points in two straight outings, first with a 14-point performance vs. Rider on Nov. 30 and then with a crucial 19-point effort in Ole Miss’ 67-63 upset win over No. 18 Memphis. In those two games, Murrell averaged 16.5 points and shot a combined 7-of-15 from three after averaging 5.2 points per game and shooting 2-of-10 from three prior to the Rider game. Murrell was also clutch from the free throw line, shooting 10-of-13 on his free tries vs. Rider and Memphis after only getting to the line 10 times all season prior.

Murrell is the program’s highest rated recruit ever nationally, signing with Ole Miss ranked No. 39 overall by both ESPN and the 247Sports Composite in 2019-20.

REBELS TAME NATIONALLY-RANKED TIGERS
No. 18 Memphis nearly erased what had been an 11-point Ole Miss second half lead, but the Rebels never faltered and closed out strong at the free throw line to cap off an impressive 67-63 upset over the Tigers in front of an electric crowd of 8,629 at SJB Pavilion on Dec. 4. Ole Miss frustrated a Memphis squad that entered as one of the elite defending units in the nation, ranking No. 1 in the NCAA in blocks and No. 19 in opposing field goal percentage prior to tipoff. Defense was the name of the game as both teams shot a combined 37 percent, but the Rebels were also beneficiaries of timely shooting, two bombastic showings from Jarkel Joiner and Matthew Murrell, and – most importantly – a 23-of-29 clip from the charity stripe that helped hold their lead over the Tigers down the stretch.

The Rebels were paced offensively from two stellar performances from Oxford native Joiner and Memphis native Murrell, who combined for 39 points, 40 percent shooting, five threes made and a 14-of-17 mark from the free throw line. Joiner was clutch every time his number was called, ending the day with 20 points and a season-high in both rebounds (8) and steals (5) – as well as a near-perfect 7-of-8 clip from the free throw line. Murrell’s offensive awakening continued to great effect for the Rebels, as he blew by his career-high with a new best of 19 points on a dynamite 4-of-9 three-point shooting effort that fired up the crowd at SJB Pavilion. Murrell was also clutch from the free throw line, going 7-of-9 overall, all coming in the second half. The Rebel defense fought fire-with-fire against the nationally ranked Tigers, forcing an Ole Miss opponent season-high 20 turnovers that turned into 20 points, while stifling standouts Emoni Bates (seven points, four rebounds) and Jalen Duren (two points, four rebounds) to a combined nine points. Ole Miss was also smart with the basketball on the offensive end, not allowing the ferocious Memphis shot blocking defense to affect the game by keeping them to a season-low three blocks.

BEWARE THE REBELS
Following its 67-63 upset over No. 18 Memphis on Dec. 4, Ole Miss has now notched four consecutive Top-25 wins for just the second time in school history. The other other such occurrence came across the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, when Ole Miss ripped off four in a row against No. 6 Florida on Feb. 16, 2002 (68-51), No. 6 Alabama on March 3, 2002 (84-56), at No. 23 LSU the following season on Jan. 18, 2003 (67-57), and three days later vs. No. 15 Alabama on Jan. 21, 2003 (76-57). The current streak has come against No. 10 Tennessee on Feb. 2, 2021 (52-50), No. 10 Missouri on Feb. 10, 2021 (80-59) and at No. 24 Missouri on Feb. 23, 2021 before last week’s win vs. Memphis. This is also the first time since 2001 that Ole Miss has won against four ranked teams within the same calendar year. That season the Rebels did so five times against No. 10 Tennessee on Feb. 10 (87-71), No. 20 Alabama on March 3 (105-71), No. 5 Florida in the SEC Tournament (74-69), No. 19 Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament (59-56) and the following season against No. 22 Memphis on Dec. 7 (71-67).

2020-21 / 2021-22
Feb. 2, 2021 – vs. #10 Tennessee (52-50)
Feb. 10, 2021 – vs. #10 Missouri (80-59)
Feb. 23, 2021 – at #24 Missouri (60-53)
Dec. 4, 2021 – vs. #18 Memphis (67-63)

2001-02 / 2002-03
Feb. 16, 2002 – vs. #6 Florida (68-51)
March 3, 2002 – vs. #6 Alabama (84-56)
Jan. 18, 2003 – at #23 LSU (67-57)
Jan. 21, 2003 – vs. #15 Alabama (76-57)

HOMETOWN HERO
Senior Jarkel Joiner was named one of 60 men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes nationally named as candidates for the 2021-22 Senior CLASS Award on Dec. 7. Ole Miss women’s basketball senior Shakira Austin was also named a candidate, making Ole Miss the only SEC school to be represented on both lists and one of just four schools nationally alongside BYU, Michigan and Virginia Tech.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

In the classroom, Joiner holds a 3.13 GPA in multi-disciplinary studies, and is a staple in his hometown community. Joiner was named to the 2020-21 SEC Community Service Team, working closely with the Reading with the Rebels program in addition to the Stronger Together Mississippi initiative and Adopt-A-Basket, which helps feed local families during the holiday season.

The men’s and women’s candidates will be narrowed to two fields of ten finalists later in the season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will then select one male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four C’s of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Final Four® and NCAA Women’s Final Four® this spring.

CRASHING THE BOARDS
Ole Miss recorded a historic rebounding effort against Rider on Nov. 30, hauling in 57 total boards and winning the battle on the glass by a margin of 21. The 57 rebounds stood as the most by a Rebel team since recording 64 vs. Troy on Nov. 27, 2007. Since 2007, Ole Miss has tallied 50 rebounds in 14 total games. Those 57 team rebounds also stand as the second-most by an SEC team this season.

Games With 50+ Rebounds Since 2007 (14)
11-30-21 – vs. Rider (57)
01-17-17 – Tennessee (50)
12-22-16 – South Alabama (50)
12-12-15 – Southeast Missouri (53)
11-16-15 – Georgia Southern (50)
11-14-14 – Charleston Southern (50)
11-08-13 – Troy (53)
01-29-13 – Kentucky (52)
11-09-12 – MVSU (54)
11-14-11 – Grambling (51)
02-24-10 – Auburn (50)
12-28-07 – Southern Miss (51)
11-27-07 – Troy (64)
11-16-07 – Lamar (53)

YEAR FOUR OF THE DAVIS ERA
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 59 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 462 career wins over 24 seasons, including stints at Middle Tennessee, Idaho and Texas A&M. In 27 seasons as a college basketball head coach, he has amassed 528 wins.

DAVIS ERA TRENDS TO WATCH
• 50-14 when leading at half
• 5-0 when scoring 90+, 26-3 when scoring 80+, 45-18 when scoring 70+
• 41-16 when winning the rebounding battle
• 25-3 when at 50 percent shooting or better
• 16-5 when shooting 40 percent or better from three
• 56-28 when keeping opponents below 50 percent shooting (33-5 when below 40 percent)

PROTECTING CRADDOCK COURT
Winning at home has been a trademark at Ole Miss. Over the past 15 seasons, the Rebels are 183-56 (.766 win pct.) in home games. In five-plus seasons (opened January 2016) playing in the $96.5 million SJB Pavilion, the Rebels hold a 70-30 (.700) advantage against the opposition. Ole Miss has won 308 of its last 396 games (.778 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign. Under head coach Kermit Davis, the Rebels are 40-14 (.741 win pct.) at home.

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