March 1, 2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After an exciting win over No. 11 seed Florida in the First Round on Wednesday, Ole Miss women’s basketball advances to the Second Round of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament to take on No. 6 seed Missouri on Thursday night.
Tipoff is set at Bridgestone Arena and on SEC Network for 25 minutes after Game Three between Tennessee and Auburn at 6 p.m. CT.
No. 14 seed Ole Miss Rebels (12-18, 1-15 SEC)
Head Coach: Matt Insell • 5th Season at Ole Miss (70-86) • 70-86 career record (5th Season)
No. 6 seed #13 Missouri Tigers (23-6, 11-5 SEC)
Head Coach: Robin Pingeton • 8th Season at Missouri (146-106) • 481-263 career record (23rd season)
ON THE AIR
Television/Online: SEC Network
Play-by-Play: Pam Ward
Color: Gail Goestenkors
Sideline: Steffi Sorensen
Host: Maria Taylor / Peter Burns
Analysts: Andy Landers / Nell Fortner
SEC Radio Network
Sirius 138 / XM 190
OLE MISS RADIO
Radio: 105.1 / 105.5 FM | Play-by-Play: Graham Doty; Color: Lindsay Roy
Audio: RebelVision (OleMissSports.com)
SERIES NOTES (Missouri leads, 7-1)
At Oxford: Missouri leads 4-1
At Columbia: Missouri leads 3-0
Longest UM Streak: 1 (1981)
Longest MU Streak: 7 (2013-Pres.)
Biggest UM Win: 6 (1/5/81 - at Oxford)
Biggest MU Win: 35 (2/23/17)
Most UM Points: 76 (1/2/14 - at Oxford)
Most MU Points: 100 (2/23/17 - at Columbia)
SURVIVE AND ADVANCE
Ole Miss won its first SEC Tournament game since 2014 with a defensive battle against No. 11 seed Florida in the First Round on Wednesday, prevailing 48-43. The win marked the second time a No. 14 seed had ever advanced in the SEC Tournament since the conference expanded to 14 teams, with both instances involving Ole Miss after the Rebels defeated Arkansas in 2014.
All-time, Ole Miss is 27-37 in the SEC Tournament. The Rebels have not won multiple SEC Tournament games since 1993 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Ole Miss advanced to the semifinals before losing to Vanderbilt. In fact, Ole Miss has only won multiple games in the conference tournament three total times: 1993, 1983 (lost to Georgia in the final) and 1980 (lost to Tennessee in the final).
The 48-43 win over Florida was a tug-of-war defensive battle between the Rebels and the Gators, with Ole Miss coming out on top in the end.
The 43 points allowed registers as the fewest Ole Miss has ever allowed in an SEC Tournament game (besting the previous mark of 45 vs. Alabama on March 3, 1990). It also marked the first time in 34 years that Ole Miss had scored 50 points or fewer and won, with the last instance coming on Jan. 25, 1984 vs. Auburn (46-45).
DEFENSE TRENDING UP
When combining Ole Miss’ regular season finale at Auburn and its First Round matchup vs. Florida, the Rebel defense has showed a significant uptick in effectiveness.
In those last two games, Ole Miss is holding opponents to 51.5 PPG, 34 percent shooting and has forced at least 19 turnovers. The Rebels have also recorded double-digit steals in back-to-back games for the first time this season (13 vs. Auburn, 10 vs. Florida).
UP NEXT: NO. 6 SEED MISSOURI
Ole Miss will square off against No. 13 Missouri (No. 6 seed) in the Second Round, marking the first time the two teams have met in the SEC Tournament (it was also the first-ever Tournament meeting for Ole Miss and Florida in the First Round). Mizzou leads the all-time series 7-1, including a 6-0 record since joining the SEC.
Missouri traveled to Oxford earlier this season, winning 67-48. The Tigers jumped out to a 20-2 start, but the Rebels nearly drew even the remainder of the game behind a double-double performance from Promise Taylor (16 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks). Mizzou, meanwhile, received 20 points and 10 boards from All-SEC player Sophie Cunningham.
TAYLOR NAMED ALL-FRESHMAN
Rebel freshman Promise Taylor was named to the SEC All-Freshman team this morning (Feb. 27) after a superb first year at Ole Miss. Taylor is the 11th Rebel to ever earn the distinction and the first since A’Queen Hayes in 2014-15. A native of Issaquah, Washington, Taylor has been a force down low for Ole Miss in 2017-18. She averages 8.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and – most impressively – 2.7 blocks per game. Her shot blocking proficiency has immediately put her on the map as one of the top shot blockers nationally as just a freshman, ranking 14th in the NCAA at a new Ole Miss single-season record of 80 blocks.
Taylor has also been deadly accurate from the field, as she ended the regular season as the shooting percentage leader both in overall (.618) and SEC-only (.655) shooting.
Promise Taylor Season Highlights
• Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week; second-most in the SEC this season
• 8.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.7 BPG
• Ended regular season leading SEC in both overall FG percentage (.618) and SEC-only FG percentage (.655)
• 3rd in SEC in overall blocked shots (2.7/game) and SEC-only blocked shots (2.4/game); top freshman
• 14th in NCAA in total blocks (78), 17th in blocks per game (2.7)
• FG percentage ranks as the top single-season mark in school history, beating Eugenia Conner’s .604 from 1983
• Broke the single-season blocks record of 67 set by Shawn Goff in 2008. Currently has 80 on the year.
• Set the single-game blocks record at No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 8 with 10, breaking the 1993-94 record of seven by Susan Byrd.
• Her 10 blocks vs. Texas A&M rank as the most in the SEC this year and tied for the fourth most nationally in a game this season.
• Four double-doubles; nearly had a triple- double at Texas A&M with 14 points, eight rebounds and 10 blocks
• Has at least three blocks in 13 games and at least four blocks in eight games.
STRONG UPPERCLASSMAN YEARS
Rebel juniors Alissa Alston and Madinah Muhammad, put together strong campaigns as the elder statesmen for Ole Miss this season in the backcourt.
#25 Alissa Alston • PG • Junior
• Regular season: 14.4 PPG (17th SEC); 13.4 PPG in SEC play
• 4.5 Assists/Game (4th SEC)
• 1.3 Assist/Turnover Ratio (12th SEC)
• 35.7 Minutes/Game (3rd SEC)
• 19 double-digit games
• Five 20-point games; career-high 28 vs. Vanderbilt
• Has had at least four assists in 18 games
• Has scored in double digits with at least five assists in seven games
• Career-high 10 assists vs. Delaware State
• Career-long eight-game double-digit streak from Dec. 9 to Jan. 7
• 711 career points (396 this season)
#20 Madinah Muhammad • G • Junior
• Regular season: 16.8 PPG (9th SEC); 15.4 PPG in SEC play
• Regular season: .854 FT% (2nd SEC, 33rd NCAA)
• Regular season: 65 threes made (2.4/game, 3rd SEC)
• Regular season: 33.4 minutes/game (10th SEC); 35.2 in SEC play
• Has scored in double-digits in 24 of 28 games played
• Scored 20-plus eight times
• Has scored 30-plus twice (Ole Miss hadn’t had a 30-point game since 2015- 16 entering the season)
• Had career-long 10-game double-digit streak from Dec. 19 to Jan. 28
• Played at least 36 minutes in 10 SEC games, including 40 in three games
• Became 29th member of the Rebel 1,000-point club with 18 points vs. No. 19 Georgia, currently sitting 28th all-time with 1,059.
• Seven threes at No. 10 Tennessee ranks tied for third most in a single game in Ole Miss history; most ever by a Rebel vs. Tennessee
• Seven threes at Tennessee ranks tied for the most in a single game in the SEC this year
• Has had seven assists in four games this year; has 73 total this year, a single- season career high
• Has only missed multiple free throws in a game three times this season
• Has made five or more free throws 10 times this season (season-high 12 vs. Troy)
• Went 22-of-22 from the free throw line across four games from Feb. 15-25, breaking the streak with her final attempt at Auburn.
• Is 29 of her last 30 from the free throw line in her last five games going back to Feb. 15.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 42
Ole Miss ended the regular season ranked No. 42 in the NCAA in strength of schedule, with a total opposing record of 447-325 (.579).
Ole Miss was able to find it from three down the stretch in the regular season, including a season-high 15-three performance vs. Alabama on Feb. 11 and another double-digit trey game with 10 vs. Kentucky on Feb. 22.
The Rebels got five threes alone from Madinah Muhammad against the Wildcats to lead the 45.5 percent effort from three against UK. The Rebels sank 15 threes against the Crimson Tide, tying a season-high (Ole Miss also hit 15 vs. Delaware State), which also registered as the third-most in a single-game in school history. Of those 15, a season-high 11 of those came in a blistering first-half.
In the last 15 games of the regular season, Ole Miss drained at least eight threes in eight contests -- including doing so in four of the last eight games. Ole Miss ended the year ranked sixth in the SEC with 6.4 threes made per game.
Ole Miss has been a dominant force in shot blocking this season, thanks primarily to freshman center Promise Taylor. The Rebels ended the regular season ranked 46th in the NCAA in blocks per game (4.6) and 41st in total blocks (138) -- most of which come from Taylor, who ranks 14th in total blocks and 17th in blocks per game (2.7). No game was this more present than at No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 8, where the Rebels blocked 13 shots -- the most in a single-game in Ole Miss history and tied for the most by an SEC team this season. The Rebels have blocked at least five shots in 13 games this year and at least four in 19 contests. Because of the surge in blocked shots, Ole Miss broke the single-season record of 129 team blocks set back in 1982-83, currently sitting at 138 after the First Round matchup vs. Florida.
The silver lining to losing someone as valuable as Shandricka Sessom so early in the season is that plenty of Rebels are gaining valuable starting experience early in their careers. Of the 11 active Rebels on the roster, 10 have started a game for Ole Miss this season -- including five underclassmen. Ole Miss has used 10 different starting lineup combinations this season.
MUHAMMAD JOINS 1K CLUB
Junior Madinah Muhammad dropped 18 points on No. 19 Georgia on Feb. 19, and in the process became the 29th Rebel to eclipse the career 1,000-point mark.
Muhammad has scored a career-high 468 points through 28 games played this season and recently moved past Carol Ross (1,015) for 28th all-time at Ole Miss -- currently sitting with 1,059 career points.
Muhammad is also the second junior to pass 1,000 career points in as many seasons, as senior Shandricka Sessom did so in 2016-17). She is also the third in the last six seasons (Valencia McFarland, 2012- 13).
ALSTON COMING THROUGH
Junior Alissa Alston has proven herself a skilled scorer during her third season as a Rebel, and has become a crucial component to the Ole Miss offense as both the field marshall at point guard and off the dribble.
Alston is had a career-high 28-point outing vs. Vanderbilt on Feb. 1, her fifth 20-point game of the season after not recording any during her first two seasons at Ole Miss. She scored at least 16 points in six of nine games in a stretch from Jan. 21 to Feb. 19 after entering the 2017-18 season with a career-high of only 17 points prior. Alston has been in double digits in 19 games played this season, and has shot 75.4 percent from the charity stripe. She has had at least three games where she’s started at least 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including a 14-of-16 line vs. Middle Tennessee to help lead the Rebels to the national TV win over the Blue Raiders.
AIR IT OUT, TORRI!
She hit 10 threes vs. New Orleans as a freshman in 2015 (the third-most in NCAA history in a single-game), and junior Torri Lewis found that hot-stroke again vs. Alabama on Feb. 11.
Lewis nailed seven treys -- tied for the most by an individual in the SEC this season -- to help lead Ole Miss to a season-high 15 threes. In a four-game span from Feb. 1-11, Lewis was 16-of-32 from three, hitting at least four three-pointers in three of those games. She has hit multiple threes in 12 games this year, with 44 of her 49 total field goals this season coming from three.
SHELBY FROM DOWNTOWN
Sophomore Shelby Gibson is also finiding a hot stroke from three, continuing what has been a surprising evolution in her game in 2017-18.
Gibson, who entered the season with a career line of 7-of-14 from three after her freshman season, has gone off for a line of 17-of-47 this year -- with 43 of her attempts coming in the last 16 games.
SERIOUS PLAYING TIME
Junior Alissa Alston has logged at least 35 minutes in 15 of her last 17 games, resulting in her playing for 91.6 percent of all available floor time in that span (632 of 690 available minutes). When taking out 26 minutes vs. Mizzou and 16 vs. MSU due to foul trouble, that percentage goes up to 96.7 (590 of 610).
Alston ended the regular season ranked third overall in the SEC with 35.7 minutes played, as well as second in conference-only games with 37.2 per game.
PROMISE MAKES HISTORY
It’s been an incredible first season for freshman Promise Taylor, but she outdid herself with an electrifying performance at No. 14 Texas A&M on Feb. 8 that will stand in the record book for some time.
Needing just six blocks to tie the 2008 single-season blocks record of 67 set by Shawn Goff (and entering the game averaging 2.7 a game), Taylor exploded for 10 blocks to break not only the single- season record, but she went on to break the 1993-94 single-game record of seven set by Susan Byrd.
Taylor’s night ranks as the top shot- blocking performance of the season in the SEC, as well as the fourth-best in the NCAA this year. Taylor is the conference’s top freshman shot blocker, ranking third at 2.7 per game (which also ranks her 17th in the NCAA).
Taylor nearly recorded a triple-double in the effort as well, falling just short at 14 points, eight rebounds and 10 blocks. Only three Rebels have ever recorded a triple- double, the last being Kayla Melson on Nov. 13, 2009, vs. Southeast Louisiana with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. No Rebel has ever done so with double-digit blocks.
Senior and Preseason Second-Team All- SEC member Shandricka Sessom tore her ACL during the closing minutes of the first quarter vs. Middle Tennessee on Nov. 29, ending her season. Sessom, who was averaging 17.7 PPG, will redshirt and return in 2018-19.
Sessom currently ranks as the 24th-best scorer in Ole Miss history with 1,131 career points scored.
Follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissWBB, Facebook at Ole Miss WBB on Instagram at Ole MissWBB and on Snapchat with the handle @OleMissWBB. Fans can also follow Ole Miss women's basketball head coach Matt Insell on Twitter at @minsell.