Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Hits Road for No. 18 Tennessee

Published 3:52 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ole Miss men’s basketball returns to action and will hit the road for its first true road contest of the season to take on the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT.

TEAM FACTS

Ole Miss Rebels (8-4, 0-0 SEC)
Head Coach: Kermit Davis • 4th Season at Ole Miss (59-46) • 528-309 career record (27th Season)

#18 Tennessee Volunteers (9-3, 0-1 SEC)
Head Coach: Rick Barnes • 7th Season at Tennessee (132-76) • 736-390 career record (35th Season)

ON THE AIR

Television/Online: SEC Network
Play-by-Play: Mike Morgan
Color: Jon Sundvold

OLE MISS RADIO

Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
Play-by-Play: David Kellum

SiriusXM
XM: 380
SiriusXM App: 970

SERIES HISTORY VS. TENNESSEE
Wednesday marks the 121st all-time meeting between the Rebels and Volunteers, a series that stretches back to 1924. Tennessee holds the all-time edge 75-45 and an advantage in the series both in Oxford (27-26) and in Knoxville (43-12), but the Rebels hold the upper hand with an identical 7-5 edge at neutral sites and in the postseason — all in the SEC Tournament. The home team has emerged victorious in 15 of the last 21 meetings dating back to 2004. The Rebels and Vols have gone to overtime five times, with Ole Miss leading such games by a 5-1 margin. Tennessee holds a 6-4 edge in the last 10 matchups, but three of those six Volunteer victories have been by single digits. Most recently, Ole Miss snapped a five-game skid to Tennessee in epic fashion, upsetting the 10th-ranked Vols 52-50 in Oxford on Feb. 2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 2, 2021 (W, 52-50, in Oxford)
• Win over No. 10 Tennessee was first in current school record four-game win streak vs. top-25 teams
• First ranked win since Jan. 12, 2019 vs. No. 14 Mississippi State (81-77)
• First home ranked win since Jan. 9, 2019 vs. No. 10 Auburn (82-67)
• First ranked win vs. Tennessee since Feb. 10, 2001 (87-71, in Oxford)
• Ole Miss erased 11-point second half deficit
• Ole Miss: 30-10 edge in the paint
• Tennessee: 36 percent overall (25 in 2nd Half), 1-of-14 final three minutes, 12:27 2nd Half FG drought
• Both teams entered leading the SEC in scoring defense
• Four Rebels with multiple steals
• Devontae Shuler: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals
• Romello White: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist

LAST WIN IN KNOXVILLE: March 5, 2016 (W, 83-60)
• 20th win of the season (finished 20-12, 10-8 SEC)
• Ole Miss: 11-of-25 (.444) from three
• Sebastian Saiz: 23 points, 11 rebounds (eighth double-double of the season)
• Stefan Moody: 12 points (scoreless in first half after scoring 43 vs. MSU in previous game)

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). A win vs. No. 18 Tennessee on Wednesday would be a school record fifth consecutive ranked victory.

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)

AN OLE MISS WIN WOULD…
• …be the fifth straight top-25 victory for Ole Miss, a school record.
• …be the first time the Rebels have beaten ranked Tennessee on consecutive meetings since beating the 16th-ranked Vols 55-53 in Knoxville on Feb. 3, 1982 and the 12th-ranked Vols 56-55 in Oxford on Jan. 8, 1983.
• …be the first back-to-back wins over Tennessee since winning three in a row from 2015-17
• …be the first win in Knoxville since March 5, 2016 (83-60)

REBS DURING THE RANKED WINS STREAK
• 64.8 PPG offense, 56.3 PPG defense (+8.5)
• FG%: 88-of-208 (.423)
• 3PT%: 22-of-69 (.319)
• 3PM/Game: 5.5
• FT%: 61-of-79 (.772)
• FTM/Game: 15.3
• FTA/Game: 19.8
• Rebounds/Game: 36.3
• Rebounding Margin: +6.3
• Assists/Game: 11.5
• Turnovers/Game: 14.5
• Turnovers Forced/Game: 15.3
• Turnover Margin: +0.8
• Steals/Game: 8.3
• Blocks/Game: 2.5
• Points off Turnovers: 64-38 (Avg: 16.0/9.5)
• Points in the Paint: 98-80 (Avg: 24.5/20.0)
• 2nd Chance Points: 33-36 (Avg: 8.3/9.0)
• Fastbreak Points: 34-10 (Avg: 8.5/2.5)
• Bench Points: 61-72 (Avg: 15.3/18.0)
• Average Time Led: 24:36

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
With SEC season now heating up, Ole Miss holds the nation’s No. 30 toughest future schedule. Of the 13 other SEC schools the Rebels will play, nine hold NET rankings within the top-100, with seven currently within the top-50 and five within the top-25 — including current NET No. 10 Tennessee. Ole Miss also has a top-100 non-conference matchup on the horizon, with NET No. 80 Kansas State coming to Oxford for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 29. The 8-4 Rebels currently rank No. 128 and hold a top-100 win over current No. 52, Memphis (Dec. 4, 67-63).

SCOUTING TENNESSEE
No. 18 Tennessee comes to Oxford at 9-3 overall and 0-1 in SEC play following an opening loss at No. 19 Alabama on Dec. 29 (73-68). The Volunteers currently own the NCAA’s 39th-toughest schedule, with Power-5 wins over No. 18 North Carolina (89-72), Colorado (69-54) and No. 6 Arizona (77-73), with losses to No. 5 Villanova (71-53), Texas Tech (57-52/OT), and Alabama.

The Volunteers rely heavily on a ferocious defense, an efficient offensive operation and careful protection of the ball. The Tennessee leads the SEC in assist-turnover ratio at 1.6 (No. 8 NCAA) and assists per game at 17.9 (No. 11 NCAA), and they also lead the conference in fewest turnovers per game at 10.9 (No. 34 NCAA). Combined with their 17.5 turnovers forced on defense (No. 21 NCAA/No. 3 SEC), that yields the NCAA’s sixth-best turnover margin at an SEC-leading +6.6 per game. The Vols also rank in the NCAA top-50 in steals per game (12th, 10.3), scoring margin (17th, +17.1), blocks per game (28th, 5.3) and scoring defense (31st, 60.4 PPG).

Tennessee is led by freshman guard Kennedy Chandler, who averages 14.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 44.4 percent overall, 37.2 percent from three and 75 percent from the free throw line.

LAST TIME OUT (vs. SAMFORD: L, 75-73)
• Samford: Ole Miss opponent season-high 51.9 percent shooting, 45.8 three-point shooting
• 25-6 Samford run to open second half
• Four Rebels in double-digits: Daeshun Ruffin (17), Jarkel Joiner (15), Luis Rodriguez (13), Jaemyn Brakefield (11)
• Ole Miss held Samford without a field goal for final 3:08 of action

RUFFIN RETURNS IN BIG SPOT
Ole Miss freshman Daeshun Ruffin has returned from a four-week absence in dynamic fashion, averaging 16.0 points, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals and shooting 41.7 percent overall and 70.8 percent from the free throw line over his last three games against Middle Tennessee, Dayton and Samford. 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 accounted for 44.8 percent of all Rebel free throws made (29) 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 six opponents to 22.2 percent or lower from beyond the arc. 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 shot 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 51st nationally and fourth in the SEC with a season opposing three-point clip of 29.2 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.

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 12 games so far this year. Brooks was recently 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 against WKU, Middle Tennessee and Dayton. 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 8.9 points. He has hauled in at least six boards 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 eighth in the SEC at his overall percentage of 84.6. Recently, though, he has been even more reliable from the charity stripe, hitting 24 of his last 26 free tries, including a stretch of 17 in a row that spanned from Ole Miss’ upset over No. 18 Memphis on Dec. 4 until the Samford game on Dec. 21. 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 127-of-177 (.718) since playing Elon on Nov. 19 — averaging 14.1 free throws made per game in that stretch. 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 shot 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 20.4 free throw attempts in its last seven games since Nov. 26.

PROTECT THE BALL
Ole Miss has forced double-digit turnovers in all 12 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 +3.7 (36th NCAA), and are third in the SEC in fewest turnovers per game (11.5). In the Kermit Davis era, the Rebels are 47-20 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 12 games, including 60 or fewer in five of their last nine outings — capped by a season-low 51 to Rider.

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 33:29, and he has put the team on his back with the SEC’s second-best assist-turnover ratio (3.0; 18th NCAA), eighth-best free throw percentage (.846) and ninth-most points per game (14.8). In his career, Joiner averages 30.7 minutes played per game in 104 career games played and 96 career starts. Joiner has scored in double digits in 11 of 12 games this season, as well as 17 of his last 19 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.

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
• 50-15 when leading at half
• 5-0 when scoring 90+, 26-3 when scoring 80+, 45-19 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)

For the latest news and updates regarding Ole Miss Men’s Basketball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissMBB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Men’s Basketball and on Instagram at olemissmbb.