Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Cooled Off by Arkansas, 64-55
Published 1:04 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022
OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team entered coming off one of its best second-half shooting performances in 13 years vs. Florida on Jan. 24, but a stingy Arkansas defense and superb play by Razorback duo JD Notae and Jaylin Williams kept the Rebels at bay, 64-55, at SJB Pavilion on Wednesday night.
The Rebels (10-10, 2-6 SEC) had a good deal of momentum heading into tonight despite it being their third game in just five days, having beaten Florida following a superb shooting effort on Monday night. Arkansas (15-5, 5-3 SEC) poured cold water on that offense, stymying the Rebel effort to just 34.5 percent overall and 22.2 percent from three, while also shooting 48 percent overall itself in addition to a 44.4 percent clip from beyond the arc.
Ole Miss was never truly out of the game, but a 13-0 run over five minutes in the second half and the splendid play of Notae (25 points, five assists, 10-of-23 FG, 4-of-10 3PT) and Williams (18 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks, two steals) helped the Razorbacks separate toward the nine-point victory.
“I thought there were a lot of periods of time in that game where we sure competed hard enough,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “It just kind of came down to guard play tonight. Their two guys, who people think should be First-Team All-SEC, played like it. Notae just dominated the whole game, and Williams shot the ball well for them. I just thought we had some runs, but could never get over the hump. I thought we got shot after shot after shot, and just couldn’t make those shots when the game was in balance.”
The Rebels had four in double-digit scoring – Matthew Murrell (14), Nysier Brooks (10), Tye Fagan (10) and Daeshun Ruffin (10) – won the battle on the glass 33-31, and notched yet another perfect line from the charity stripe at 13-of-13. That stands as just the fourth perfect free throw game of at least 10 attempts in Ole Miss history, and the second this season after a 15-of-15 showing vs. No. 4 Auburn on Jan. 15. The only other two such perfect games of at least 10 attempts in Ole Miss history are a 10-of-10 effort vs. Mississippi State on Feb. 28, 1959, and a 22-of-22 line vs. South Alabama on Nov. 18, 2008.
Points were at a premium in the first half, with the first true scoring run coming at 16:11 following a 7-0 Razorback run before a 10-2 Rebel run that began at 12:46 gave Ole Miss a 14-13 lead at the 7:14 mark. The Rebels, though, would make just four more buckets the rest of the half as Arkansas used a last-second buzzer beater three to take a 30-23 lead into the break.
Notae was brilliant in the first half, scoring 14 of his 25 in the opening 20 minutes on a 6-of-12 line overall. Both he and Williams each scored 11 points in the second half, with Williams scoring seven in a row by himself during the 13-0 run that was capped by Notae’s fourth three-pointer of the game with 4:26 to play, pushing the Razorbacks up a game-high 16 points at 56-40.
The Rebels were able to claw back to single digits with 56 seconds remaining following a Murrell layup, and his second three of the game with 43 seconds left put Ole Miss within seven, but Arkansas hit six free throws over the final 1:23 to help keep the Rebels at arm’s length.
“Give Arkansas credit,” Davis said. “They’re a physical team, they guard, they held us to 35 percent. I thought it was a real physical game on both ends and called the same, but their better players just made plays tonight. They went out, made some shots, and made some plays when they had to.”
Ole Miss now has to prepare for a key non-conference matchup when Kansas State comes to Oxford for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this Saturday, Jan. 29. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT at SJB Pavilion on Saturday afternoon, and the game will air live on ESPNU.
“When you have an off night, it’s going to frustrate you, but you can’t let that keep you down,” Murrell said. “We gotta get ready for the next game. We have a tough Kansas State team coming in on Saturday, so now we just have to be prepared for them.”