Men's Hoops Begins SEC Play on New Year's Eve
Dec. 29, 2017

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Matchup: South Carolina (9-3, 0-0 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (7-5, 0-0 SEC)
Date: Sunday, December 31, 2017
Time: 5 p.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Arena: The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,500)
Television: ESPN2
    Kevin Fitzgerald, play-by-play
    Jon Sundvold, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss IMG Sports Network (XM-191)
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Keith Carter, analyst
Series: Ole Miss leads 19-18
Last Meeting: March 4, 2017
    Ole Miss won 75-70
    Oxford, Miss.

New Year's Eve - First 1,000 fans get an Ole Miss bowtie

- Ole Miss and Kentucky are the only two SEC schools to have a .500-or-better conference record in each of the past six seasons.
- The Rebels have posted conference records over .500 in each of the last three seasons, the first time they have done that since 1936-1938.
- The Rebels and Gamecocks open up SEC play against one another for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
- Ole Miss won’t begin conference action against Kentucky for the first time in four years.
- The Rebels are 3-1 during their current five-game homestand to end the 2017 calendar year.
- Ole Miss is averaging 10.8 threes made per game over the last four games; averaging 9.2 threes per game for the year, the Rebels sit fourth in the SEC.
- The Rebels rank top 26 nationally in assists per game (24th-17.8), assist/turnover ratio (26th-1.4) and blocks per game (26th-5.6).
- Ole Miss has used eight different starting lineups in 12 games, one of nine teams nationally to have done that.
- Ten different players have started games this year for Ole Miss.
- Six of the Rebels’ seven victories this season have been by double digits, including three wire-to-wire wins.
- Guards are accounting for 71.1 percent of the Rebels’ scoring.
- Senior Deandre Burnett ranks third in the SEC and 32nd nationally with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio; he’s also fourth in the conference in assists per game (4.8), recording 48 assists (6.0 per game) over the past eight games.
- With 88 career blocks, senior Marcanvis Hymon ranks 11th on the school’s all-time list and is one away from jumping into the top 10.
- Terence Davis has scored double digits in 25 of the last 27 games dating back to last season.
- 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 241 victories.
- The Rebels are over .500 as a program (1,288-1,287) for the first time since 1959; Ole Miss was 95 games under .500 when Kennedy took over in Oxford.
- Only 12 games into this season, Kennedy already has the fifth-most wins in SEC history by a coach in his first 12 years in the league at one school.

Playing their 108th season of college basketball, the Rebels are 1,288-1,287 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.

South Carolina enters SEC play with a 9-3 record, winning four of its last five contests. The Gamecocks are coming off a 74-45 victory over Limestone (Dec. 27). During non-conference action, South Carolina and Ole Miss faced only one familiar opponent (Illinois State). Junior forward Chris Silva leads South Carolina in multiple categories, including points per game (12.8), rebounds per game (8.0), blocks (17) and free throw percentage (.747). Frank Booker, a graduate transfer from Florida Atlantic, is the only other Gamecock averaging double figures in scoring (11.1 ppg) and leads the team in three-point shooting at a 41.1 percent clip. While the Gamecocks only average 72.6 ppg (13th in the SEC), they rank second in the conference in scoring defense (63.4 ppg). Frank Martin in is his sixth season as South Carolina’s head coach. He guided the Gamecocks to a school-record 26 wins and their first ever Final Four appearance a season ago.

Sunday’s game will be the 38th meeting between the two schools on the hardwood, with Ole Miss holding a slight 19-18 advantage in the all-time series. The Rebels are 13-2 all time in Oxford against South Carolina, and the home team has taken 15 of the last 18 matchups in the series. Ole Miss has won six of the last 10 matchups. Head coach Andy Kennedy is 7-9 against the Gamecocks (7-8 with Ole Miss, 0-1 with Cincinnati).

The Rebels and Gamecocks split last season’s series with each team winning on its home court. In the regular season finale, Sebastian Saiz posted his 19th double-double of the season with 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead Ole Miss past South Carolina, 75-70, on senior night at The Pavilion (March 4, 2017). Breein Tyree added 19 points for Ole Miss, while Justas Furmanavicius posted a double-double of his own with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Ole Miss led by as many as 20 points early in the second half before South Carolina charged back. The Gamecocks closed to within four points in the final minutes as the Rebels missed four of their final six free throws but South Carolina couldn’t close the gap. SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 25 points, P.J. Dozier had 13, and Hassani Gravett and Duane Notice had 10 apiece.

For the first time in four seasons, Ole Miss will not open SEC play against Kentucky. The Wildcats were the Rebels’ first conference opponent in each of the last three seasons, a tough start with Kentucky advancing to the national title game (2014), round of 32 (2015) and the Final Four (2016) in the seasons prior to the annual matchup. However, things won’t start any easier for the Rebels as South Carolina advanced to the Final Four a season ago. Hosting the Gamecocks will mark just the sixth time in the last 20 years that Ole Miss has opened conference play at home. It is also second time since the 1981-82 season the Rebels have started SEC play before January after also doing it last season.

Ole Miss and Kentucky are the only two schools in the league to finish .500 or better in the SEC each of the last six seasons. The Rebels have posted conference records over .500 in each of the last three seasons, the first time they have done that since 1936-1938 when George Bohler was the head coach (only other time it happened in program history).

Coming off a season in which they finished 22-14 (10-8 SEC) and made a run to the quarterfinals of the NIT, the Rebels were predicted to finish 10th in the SEC this year by the media. Ole Miss finished tied for fifth in the league standings after being projected ninth in the preseason media poll last year. The Rebels have finished above their preseason projected finish each of the last six seasons since the league moved away from a divisional format.

During the current homestand, four games thus far, Ole Miss averaging 10.8 made three-pointers per game. The storm from beyond the arc has increased the team’s average to 9.2 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 beyond the arc 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 to shoot 45.6 percent from three-point land over the past two games.

Ole Miss ranks in the top 26 in three different categories. Second in the SEC in assists per game (17.8) and assist/turnover ratio, the Rebels rank 24th and 26th in the nation, respectively. Averaging 5.6 blocks per game, Ole Miss is 26th nationally.

Ole Miss is 6-1 in games decided by double digits. When the margin is less than 10, the Rebels are only 1-4. 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).  

Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy’s squads since he took the reins in 2006-07. Ole Miss is 139-37 (.790 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 26-11 (.703) advantage against the opposition. Ole Miss has won 264 of its last 333 games (.793 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign.

The Ole Miss bench has played a prominent role in scoring through the early part of the 2017-18 campaign, averaging 30.7 points per game. In five of the Rebels’ 12 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 the last game, 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 71.1 percent of the Rebels’ points. The top four scorers on the team are guards led by Terence Davis (16.1 ppg), Deandre Burnett (14.4 ppg) and Markel Crawford (10.5 ppg). Freshman Devontae Shuler adds 9.0 ppg, while Breein Tyree contributes 8.6 ppg (sixth on team).

Ole Miss has taken care of the basketball this season. The Rebels have coughed up the rock only 148 times, ranking 58th nationally in fewest turnovers surrendered. Also by dishing out 17.8 assists per game (24th nationally), the Rebels’ 1.4 assist/turnover ratio sits second in the SEC and 26th in the country. Senior guard Deandre Burnett holds the third-best individual assist/turnover ratio in the SEC at 2.9, which ranks 32nd 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 12 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.

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 27 games dating back to last season. Leading the Rebels with 16.1 ppg, Davis ranks sixth in the SEC. He has already reached the 20-point plateau four times, including a 25-point performance in the Rebels’ latest game 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 (13) and third in steals (13). 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 14.4 ppg, ranking second on the team, while leading the Rebels with 58 assists. Not only does he pace Ole Miss in assists, but Burnett takes care of the ball by ranking third in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (2.9). Over the last eight games, he has produced 48 assists (6.0 per game). The Miami Gardens, Florida, native is shooting 42.3 percent (47 of 111) from the floor, including 86.4 percent (57 of 66) from the free throw line. As an 87.7 percent shooter at the line for his career, he is on pace to finish as the 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 12 games, senior guard Deandre Burnett ranks in the top 10 of the SEC in multiple categories: assist/turnover ratio (3rd-2.9), assists per game (4th-4.8), total assists (4th-58) and free throw percentage (7th-.864). He sits top 100 in all of those categories, including 32nd 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 12 games, Hymon leads the Rebels with 6.5 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 86 career games, Hymon is moving up the school’s career blocks chart. With a team-high 17 already this year, he ranks 11th with 88 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 9.0 ppg in 20.9 minutes per game and swiping a team-high 17 steals (ninth 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, 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 11 of the Rebels’ 12 games and leads the team in minutes per game (30.5), which ranks 12th in the SEC. He also is second on the team in steals (14) and averages 10.5 points per game. Versus Sam Houston State last week, Crawford entered the game with only six three-pointers through eight games. In the first half, he drilled four treys that led to a team-high 16 points in the win over the Bearkats. 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 nine games, Stevens has scored a total of 61 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.

Ole Miss has been active with their hands on the defensive end of the floor, averaging 7.0 steals per game. Through 12 games, five Rebels have recorded at least eight steals. Devontae Shuler leads the way with 17 steals, ranking ninth in the SEC, while Markel Crawford and Terence Davis are closely behind with 14 and 13, respectively. Breein Tyree has nine steals, while Marcanvis Hymon has eight of his 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 241-145 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) – 241
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 241 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) - 257
17. Nolan Richardson (Arkansas) - 249
18. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) - 241
19. Norm Sloan (Florida) - 232
20. Rick Pitino (Kentucky) - 219
21. Joel Eaves (Auburn) - 214

Following the New Year’s Eve contest to kick off SEC play, the Rebels hit the road for their first conference road game of the season. Also playing its first game of the 2018 calendar year, Ole Miss travels to Georgia (Jan. 3). Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.






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