Ole Miss Renews Rivalry with MSU Saturday
Jan. 5, 2018

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Matchup: RV/NR Mississippi State (13-1, 1-0 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (8-6, 1-1 SEC)
Date: Saturday, January 6, 2018
Time: 3:30 p.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Arena: The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,500)
Television: SEC Network
    Kevin Fitzgerald, play-by-play
    Jimmy Dykes, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss IMG Sports Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Carter, analyst
Series: MSU leads 142-114
Last Meeting: February 21, 2017
    Ole Miss won 87-82 (OT)
    Starkville, Miss.

- Free Rebel t-shirt for all fans courtesy of Ford

- The Rebels and the Bulldogs are the SEC’s most-played rivalry, having met 256 times.
- Ole Miss has won seven of the last eight matchups against MSU, which is the Rebels’ best streak against the Bulldogs since winning eight straight from 1980-83.
- The last time the two teams met in Oxford, Ole Miss won 88-61 (Jan. 31, 2017); the 27-point win was the largest margin of victory over the Bulldogs since 1951.
- With 99 victories in regular season conference games, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy is seeking to become 23rd coach in SEC history to record 100 SEC wins.
- The Rebels’ three-game winning streak was snapped in a road loss to Georgia on Wednesday (Jan. 3).
- Freshman Devontae Shuler recorded four steals versus Georgia to move into the SEC’s top five in steals (22).
- Graduate transfer Markel Crawford leads the Rebels in SEC play, averaging 13.0 ppg.
- Ole Miss has posted conference records over .500 in each of the last three seasons, the first time they have done that since 1936-1938.  
- Ole Miss averaged 10.2 threes made per game over its last five home games; averaging 8.9 threes per game for the year, the Rebels sit fourth in the SEC.
- The Rebels rank 26th nationally in assist/turnover ratio (1.4) and 27th in blocks per game (5.5).
- Ole Miss is one of nine teams nationwide to have at least eight different starting lineups this season.
- Ten different players have started games this year for Ole Miss, one of six schools nationally to have done that.
- Guards are accounting for 71.3 percent of the Rebels’ scoring.
- Senior Deandre Burnett ranks fourth in the SEC and 35th nationally with a 2.8 assist/turnover ratio; Burnett also ranks fourth in assists per game (4.8) and free throws made (66).
- Ole Miss is in the 12th season of the Andy Kennedy era; Kennedy, the Dean of the SEC, is the winningest coach in school history with 242 victories.
- The Rebels are over .500 as a program (1,289-1,288) for the first time since 1959; Ole Miss was 95 games under .500 when Kennedy took over in Oxford.

Playing their 108th season of college basketball, the Rebels are 1,289-1,288 all-time. After a win over Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 13) earlier this season, Ole Miss moved its all-time winning percentage over .500 for the first time since Jan. 12, 1959 when they were 441-440 overall. To put that in perspective, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents, while 1959 was also the year that Alaska and Hawaii became states. As a program, Ole Miss was 95 games under .500 when Andy Kennedy took over in Oxford prior to the 2006-07 season.

A win versus Mississippi State on Saturday would give head coach Andy Kennedy his 100th win in SEC regular season games, becoming the 23rd coach in conference history to accomplish the feat. Kennedy, the winningest coach in Ole Miss history, is ranked 24th all-time in winning percentage for SEC regular season games at .527 (99-89). Currently, Kentucky head coach John Calipari is the only active SEC coach with 100 conference victories.

MSU enters Saturday’s rivalry contest with a 13-1 record following a home victory over No. 22 Arkansas in its SEC opener (Jan. 2). With a non-conference strength of schedule ranked No. 294, the Bulldogs won 12 of their first 13 games before the start of SEC play. The lone loss came at the hands of Cincinnati (Dec. 12). Allowing only 63.5 ppg, the Bulldogs lead the SEC and rank 25th nationally in scoring defense. Along with averaging 78.1 ppg, MSU’s +14.6 scoring margin also tops the conference. Four Bulldogs are averaging double figures, led by junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (14.8 ppg). His brother, Nick, ranks third on the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg. Shooting 52.9 percent (18 of 34) from beyond the arc and pulling down 7.1 rebounds per game, both team highs, forward Aric Holman averages 12.4 ppg. Tyson Carter scores 11.0 ppg with the help of a team-best 24 three-pointers. Ben Howland is in his third season as MSU’s head coach. His 22nd season as a head coach, Howland’s previous stops include Northern Arizona (1995-99), Pittsburgh (2000-03) and UCLA (2004-13).

The Bulldogs are Ole Miss’ most-played opponent, having met 256 times on the hardwood, which is also the SEC’s most-played rivalry. Mississippi State holds a 142-114 lead in the series, which began in 1914, but the Rebels have won seven of the last eight matchups, the best streak against the Bulldogs since winning eight straight from 1980-83.. During the stretch, Ole Miss has averaged 81.0 ppg while only giving up 71.4 ppg. The Rebels hold an 83-43 advantage in Oxford, including a 27-point win last season that was the team’s largest margin of victory in the rivalry since Feb. 27, 1951 (95-60 win). Head coach Andy Kennedy is 12-11 against MSU in his career and has coached the Rebels to wins in seven of the last eight meetings.

Along with winning seven of the last eight matchups in the series, the Rebels swept the Bulldogs during the 2016-17 campaign. First, Ole Miss routed Mississippi State 88-61 in The Pavilion (Jan. 31, 2017). Four Rebels scored in double figures led by Terence Davis with 18 points and Sebastian Saiz with 17. It marked the largest margin of victory over MSU for the Rebels since 1951. Saiz posted his 15th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Deandre Burnett added 16 points, five assists and a career-high four steals. Justas Furmanavicius chipped in six points and pulled down 10 boards as the Rebels posted a +13 rebounding margin and outscored the Bulldogs 44-28 in the paint. Completing the sweep less than one month later (Feb. 21, 2017), Breein Tyree led the Rebels with a career-high 24 points and Saiz added 23 and 10 rebounds as Ole Miss pulled away from Mississippi State in overtime 87-82. MSU’s I.J. Ready scored with one second left in regulation to cap a furious Bulldogs’ rally, tie it at 67-67 and send it to OT. However, the Rebels scored the first 10 points in overtime and held on from there. Tyree hit a 3-pointer, converted a 3-point play and then hit two free throws before two free throws by Furmanavicius made it 77-67 with 2:23 remaining. Ole Miss made 10 of 12 from the stripe in the final 1:01 to seal it. Davis added 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Burnett chipped in 10 for the Rebels.

The Rebels held Preseason SEC Player of the Year Yante Maten, who came in averaging 19.9 ppg, to only 15 points and just one point in the second half; however, Ole Miss fell 71-60 in its first SEC road game of the season. Sophomore Breein Tyree tied his season high with 17 points to lead the Rebels, while freshman Devontae Shuler added 11. Helping Ole Miss out-rebound Georgia 43-42, Dominik Olejniczak pulled down a career-high seven rebounds. Entering the game averaging a combined 29.9 ppg, the duo of Deandre Burnett and Terence Davis were limited to a combined eight points on 4 of 18 shooting (0 of 9 from three). As a team, Ole Miss shot 6 of 26 from long distance.

For the first time in four seasons, Ole Miss did not open SEC play against Kentucky. However, the Rebels still faced a foe that made the Final Four a season ago. Ole Miss converted 20 of its 23 free throws in the second half to hold off South Carolina 74-69 in a hard-fought SEC opener on New Year’s Eve at The Pavilion. The Rebels got 35 points between seniors Deandre Burnett and Markel Crawford to increase their winning streak to three games heading into the 2018 calendar year. Ole Miss held South Carolina under 70 points on 22 of 58 shooting and forced the Gamecocks to turn the basketball over 14 times.

Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy’s squads since he took the reins in 2006-07. Ole Miss is 140-37 (.797 win pct.) in home games during Kennedy’s tenure. In two seasons playing in the $96.5 million Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels hold a 27-11 (.711) advantage against the opposition. Ole Miss has won 265 of its last 334 games (.793 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign.

Averaging 5.5 blocks per game, Ole Miss ranks 27th in the country. Four Rebels have reached double digits in blocks, led by 19 from senior Marcanvis Hymon. With two rejections in the win over South Carolina on Sunday, Hymon reached 90 blocks for his career to move to 10th all-time in program history. Junior guard Terence Davis is second on the team in blocks (15), while senior forward Justas Furmanavicius has recorded 14 of his own. In his first season as a Rebel, Bruce Stevens has 11 blocks. With seven blocks in the last four games, seven-footer Dominik Olejniczak is one block away from reaching double figures.

During the five-game homestand that just ended last week, Ole Miss averaged 10.2 made three-pointers per game. The storm from beyond the arc has increased the team’s average to 9.1 made threes per contest, which ranks fourth in the SEC. Against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 19), Ole Miss hit 14 from long distance, one off the school record set against Syracuse (March 18, 2017) and Oregon (Dec. 8, 2013). The Rebels started out 9 of 15 (60 percent) from three in the first half before finishing the game 14 of 30 (46.7 percent). The shooting barrage marked the fifth time in program history that the Rebels sank 14 threes, the first time since a 76-73 win at Missouri (Feb. 8, 2014). Against Bradley, Ole Miss made 12 of 27 from long range.

Ole Miss is 6-2 in games decided by double digits. When the margin is less than 10, the Rebels are only 2-4. Three of those single-digit setbacks occurred in overtime, and the close encounters have hindered a better record. In half of their wins, the Rebels have never had to face a deficit. Ole Miss led throughout in victories over Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 13), Sam Houston State (Dec. 13) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 19).  

The Ole Miss bench has played a prominent role in scoring through the early part of the 2017-18 campaign, averaging 30.2 points per game. In five of the Rebels’ 14 games, the bench has scored at least 40 points. The season high for bench points occurred against Utah (Nov. 20) in Las Vegas, as the reserves tallied 46 of the team’s 74 points. During a win over Bradley (Dec. 22), the Ole Miss bench accounted for 50 percent of the scoring (41 of 82).

Andy Kennedy has proven to develop guards during his time at Ole Miss. Over Kennedy’s 11 seasons in Oxford, 12 guards have earned All-SEC accolades to rank third among conference teams. This season, the depth at guard shows in terms of scoring. Ole Miss guards have accounted for 71.3 percent of the Rebels’ points. The top five scorers on the team are guards led by Terence Davis (14.4 ppg), Deandre Burnett (13.9 ppg) and Markel Crawford (10.9 ppg). Breein Tyree contributes 9.1 ppg, while freshman Devontae Shuler adds 8.9 ppg.

Ole Miss has taken care of the basketball this season. The Rebels have coughed up the rock only 166 times, ranking 44th nationally in fewest turnovers surrendered. Also by dishing out 16.8 assists per game (44th nationally), the Rebels’ 1.4 assist/turnover ratio sits second in the SEC and 26th in the country. Senior guard Deandre Burnett holds the fourth-best individual assist/turnover ratio in the SEC at 2.8, which ranks 35th nationwide.

With more depth than last year’s squad, head coach Andy Kennedy has the ability to experiment with starting lineups early on in the season to try to find the best starting five. Through 14 games, the Rebels have sent out eight different starting lineups. Ole Miss is one of nine teams nationally that has had at least eight different starting lineups this season. Ten Rebels have started at least one game this season, and only six teams nationwide have had at least 10 different players start at any point of the year.  

After a breakout sophomore season last year, averaging 14.9 points per game after only providing 1.8 points per game as a freshman (largest increase in scoring among any returning player in the conference), Terence Davis has become a go-to scorer for Ole Miss. The Southaven, Mississippi, native has scored in double figures in 25 of the last 29 games dating back to last season. Leading the Rebels with 14.4 ppg, Davis has already reached the 20-point plateau four times, including a 25-point performance versus Bradley (Dec. 22). Davis recorded 21 in the season opener versus Louisiana (Nov. 10) before putting up 24 in a win over Georgia State one week later (Nov. 17). Against South Dakota State (Nov. 28), Davis scored 20 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. He has also showcased his skills on the defensive end, ranking second in blocks (14) and third in steals (15). As a sophomore last year, Davis ranked fourth in the league in field goal percentage (48.2) and recorded 20+ points in six different games. He became a playmaker on both sides of the floor, leading the Rebels with 50 steals as well.

A first team preseason all-conference selection, senior Deandre Burnett is embracing his role as a leader. Burnett is averaging 13.9 ppg, ranking second on the team, while leading the Rebels with 67 assists (fourth in the SEC). Not only does he pace Ole Miss in assists, but Burnett takes care of the ball by ranking fourth in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (2.8). The Miami Gardens, Florida, native led Ole Miss with team highs in points (18) and assists (6) in a victorious SEC opener versus South Carolina (Dec. 31). As an 86.6 percent shooter at the line for his career, he is on pace to finish as the second-best free throw shooter in Ole Miss history. Last season, his first as a Rebel, Burnett averaged a team-high 16.5 ppg and finished fifth in the SEC in both free throw percentage (.881) and three-point percentage (.376). Finishing eighth in the league in scoring, Burnett reached double figures in 26 of 33 games, including 10 20-plus performances and a career-high 41-point output (Nov. 18, 2016 vs. Oral Roberts). He also shared the rock, providing 104 assists throughout the season (3.2 apg).

Despite coming off the bench in seven of the team’s 14 games, senior guard Deandre Burnett ranks fourth in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (2.8), assists per game (4.8), total assists (67) and free throws made (66). He sits top 100 nationally in all of those categories, including 35th in assist/turnover ratio.  

Heading into the season, a big question mark for Ole Miss was who would fill the void left by Sebastian Saiz. With the help of a school-record 409 rebounds, Saiz recorded 23 double-doubles a season ago. Senior Marcanvis Hymon has been the focal point of the front court that needs to replace Saiz. In his fourth year at Ole Miss, the Memphis, Tennessee, native is the only active player to spend all four seasons in Oxford. Through 14 games, Hymon leads the Rebels with 6.2 rpg. He has reached double digits in rebounds three times this year, including a 12-point, 13-rebound performance in the season opener versus Louisiana (Nov. 10). The big opening game marked the third double-double in Hymon’s career. Through 88 career games, Hymon is moving up the school’s career blocks chart. With a team-high 19 already this year, he ranks 10th with 90 career rejections following a team-high 40 last season.

A 4-star guard out of perennial powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, there was a lot of hype surrounding Devontae Shuler entering the season. The freshman is averaging 8.9 ppg in 20.9 minutes per game and swiping a team-high 22 steals (fifth in the SEC). He has converted at the free throw line, making nine of his 10 attempts for a 90.0 percent clip. Against South Dakota State (Nov. 28), he recorded a career-high 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting to go along with a team-high three steals. In his debut, Shuler recorded 14 points in 16 minutes off the bench. The Irmo, South Carolina, native knocked down four shots from beyond the arc versus Louisiana (Nov. 10), and his offensive output was the most points by a freshman in a season opener since Trevor Gaskins recorded 21 versus Mississippi Valley State, exactly 10 years ago (Nov. 10, 2007).

As a graduate transfer, Markel Crawford is already making his mark in his only season with the Rebels. The Memphis product has started 13 of the Rebels’ 14 games and leads the team in minutes per game (30.5), which ranks 11th in the SEC. He also is second on the team in steals (17) and averages 10.9 points per game. Through two conference games, Crawford paces the Rebels with 13.0 ppg. In his first career SEC game, Crawford tallied 17 points to go along with a team-high three steals to help the Rebels secure a victory over South Carolina (Dec. 31). Against South Dakota State (Nov. 28), Crawford scored 19 points, his most as a Rebel, on 7 of 11 shooting.  

When he’s inserted into the starting lineup, junior college transfer Bruce Stevens puts together his best performances as a Rebel. Coming off the bench in 11 games, Stevens has scored a total of 75 points (6.8 ppg). In three starts, he is averaging 16.7 ppg. In his first start, at Middle Tennessee (Dec. 9), he recorded 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting in 25 minutes for his first double-digit scoring game of the season. Stevens followed that game with a 13-point night in a win over Sam Houston State (Dec. 13), going 6 of 7 from the floor. Stevens was unstoppable versus Illinois State (Dec. 16), posting a career-high 27 points that included going 7 of 9 from the floor and 13 of 16 from the free throw line. It was the most points scored this season by a Rebel. Over the last five games, Stevens has made 22 of 28 free throws (78.6 percent) to increase his season percentage to .702.

Ole Miss has been active with their hands on the defensive end of the floor, averaging 7.1 steals per game to rank fourth in the SEC. Through 14 games, six Rebels have recorded at least eight steals. Devontae Shuler leads the way with 22 steals, ranking fifth in the SEC, while Markel Crawford and Terence Davis are closely behind with 17 and 15, respectively. Breein Tyree has 11 steals, while Justas Furmanavicius and Marcanvis Hymon have eight of their own. Against the Utes (Nov. 20), the Rebels tallied 14 steals throughout the night, a season high for the Red and Blue.

With the 12th season led by Mississippi native Andy Kennedy underway, Ole Miss has a 242-146 record, one SEC Tournament championship, two SEC West championships, nine 20-win campaigns and eight postseason berths, which includes two NCAA Tournament appearances and pair of trips to the NIT Final Four, throughout Kennedy’s watch. The all-time winningest coach in school history, Kennedy has averaged more than 21 wins per season in his 11 years in Oxford after the Rebels posted just three 21-win seasons in the 96 years before his arrival.

In his 12th season in the league, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy is the Dean of SEC basketball coaches. Kennedy has faced 38 different head coaches in the SEC during his time in Oxford. He is also the longest tenured head coach in the league in both basketball and football having entered the league prior to Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Andy Kennedy is also fifth on the list for most wins by a coach in their first 12 years in the league after taking over an SEC program. See the list below:

1. Bill Donovan (Florida) – 285
2. Joe B. Hall (Kentucky) – 279
3. Wimp Sanderson (Alabama) – 265
4. Rick Stansbury (Mississippi State) – 255
5. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) – 242
6. Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt) – 236
7. Hugh Durham (Georgia) – 219
8. Ray Mears (Tennessee) – 218
9. Dale Brown (LSU) – 212
10. C.M. Newton (Alabama) – 211
11. Roy Skinner (Vanderbilt) – 204
11. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 204

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy is climbing the SEC coaching wins chart, ranking 18th with 242 career victories. See complete list below:

1. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) - 875
2. Billy Donovan (Florida) - 467
3. Dale Brown (LSU) - 448
4. C.M. Newtown (UA/VU) - 340
    Harry Rabenhorst (LSU) - 340
6. Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt) - 332
7. Tubby Smith (UGA/UK) - 308
8. Joe B. Hall (Kentucky) - 297
    Hugh Durhman (Georgia) - 297
10. Rick Stansbury (MSU) - 293
11. Ray Mears (Tennessee) - 278
    Roy Skinner (Vanderbilt) - 278
13. Wimp Sanderson (Alabama) - 265
    John Mauer (UK/UT/UF) - 265
15. Hank Crisp (Alabama) - 264
16. John Calipari (Kentucky) - 260
17. Nolan Richardson (Arkansas) - 249
18. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) - 242
19. Norm Sloan (Florida) - 232
20. Rick Pitino (Kentucky) - 219
21. Joel Eaves (Auburn) - 214

Following the rivalry matchup, Ole Miss will go through a tough stretch that includes three of four games on the road. First, the Rebels travel to Auburn (Jan. 9), who has won 11 straight games. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU. After the quick trip to Auburn, Ole Miss hosts Florida for a Saturday afternoon affair on CBS (Jan. 13). Back-to-back contests at Texas A&M (Jan. 16) and Arkansas (Jan. 20) await the Rebels to continue life on the road.






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