Rebels Close Regular Season at Auburn
Feb. 23, 2018
AUBURN, Ala. – Ole Miss women’s basketball looks to close the regular season on a high note at Auburn on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
Ole Miss Rebels (11-17, 1-14 SEC)
Head Coach: Matt Insell • 5th Season at Ole Miss (69-85) • 69-85 career record (5th Season)
Auburn Tigers (13-14, 4-11 SEC)
Head Coach: Terri Williams-Flournoy • 6th Season at Auburn (101-90) • 244-194 career record (14th season)
ON THE AIR
Television/Online: SEC Network | Play-by-Play: Jenn Hildreth; Color: Steffi Sorensen
Radio: 105.1 / 105.5 FM | Play-by-Play: Graham Doty; Color: Lindsay Roy
Audio: RebelVision (OleMissSports.com)
SERIES NOTES (Auburn leads, 34-25)
At Oxford: Ole Miss leads 13-11
At Auburn: Auburn leads 17-8
At Neutral Sites: Auburn leads 6-4
Longest UM Streak: 5 (1978-1983)
Longest AU Streak: 9 (1987-1991)
Biggest UM Win: 45 (12/8/78 - at Auburn)
Biggest AU Win: 26 (3/2/91; 3/25/89; 1/8/17)
Most UM Points: 107 (12/8/78 - at Auburn)
Most AU Points: 82 (2/24/05; 2/12/04)
Last 10 Meetings: Auburn leads 7-3
REBELS MAKING ALL-SEC PUSH
Rebel juniors Alissa Alston and Madinah Muhammad, as well as freshman Promise Taylor, have put together strong resumes for potential postseason honors.
#25 Alissa Alston • PG • Junior
• 14.7 PPG (16th SEC); 13.8 PPG in SEC play
• 4.5 Assists/Game (5th SEC)
• 1.4 Assist/Turnover Ratio (11th SEC)
• 35.5 Minutes/Game (3rd SEC)
• 19 double-digit games
• Five 20-point games; career-high 28 vs. Vanderbilt
• Has had at least four assists in 16 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
• At least 16 points in six of her last 10 games
• 696 career points (381 this season)
#20 Madinah Muhammad • G • Junior
• 16.9 PPG (9th SEC); 16.0 PPG in SEC play
• .855 FT% (2nd SEC, 32nd NCAA)
• 64 threes made (2.5/game, 3rd SEC)
• 33.3 minutes/game (10th SEC); 35.1 in SEC play
• Has scored in double-digits in 22 of 26 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
• Has played at least 36 minutes in nine 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 1,031.
• 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 71 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 nine times this season (season-high 12 vs. Troy)
• Has not missed a free throw since Feb. 11, currently 17 of her last 17 in her last three games.
#55 Promise Taylor • F • Freshman
• Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week
• 8.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG
• Leads SEC in conference-only shooting (.636)
• SEC’s top-ranked freshman in overall shooting percentage (2nd, .608)
• SEC’s top-ranked freshman in blocks (3rd, 2.6/game); 17th nationally
• Broke the single-season blocks record of 67 set by Shawn Goff in 2008. Currently has 74 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.
• .608 shooting percentage would stand as the new school record if the season were to end today, besting Eugenia Conner’s .604 from 1983.
• 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 seven games this year
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 34
Ole Miss owns the 34th toughest strength of schedule in the NCAA, with past opposition holding a .584 winning percentage (418-298).
LAST TIME OUT (vs. Kentucky)
The Rebels never let Kentucky get an insurmountable lead, but a blistering first-half shooting effort out of the Wildcats ended up being the difference in a close 79-71 defeat over Ole Miss at The Pavilion on Feb. 22.
One glance at the stat sheet shows a strong game by the Rebels, who shot 44.8 percent overall (including a 48 percent clip in the second half) and had a season-high 24 assists. However, a scorching 65.9 percent shooting display by Kentucky in the first half (including an 81.8 percent clip in the second quarter alone) proved too much to overcome on an otherwise solid night for Ole Miss. The Rebels won the back half of the game at 40-35 (20-17 in the third and 20-18 in the fourth), but every time Ole Miss started to mount a run, the Wildcats responded to keep hold of their lead.
Ole Miss received another high offensive output from junior Madinah Muhammad, who before the game was awarded her commemorative ball for joining the 1,000-point club vs. No. 19 Georgia on Monday night. Muhammad dropped 21 points on five three pointers and another perfect 4-of-4 clip from the free-throw line -- her eighth 20-point game of the year. Muhammad also added in five of Ole Miss’ season-high 24 assists. Shelby Gibson also scored in double-digits at 14 points. Other notables included Kate Rodgers (career-high eight points, five rebounds, two assists), Alissa Alston (seven points, eight assists, four steals, three rebounds), Chyna Nixon (six points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal) and Torri Lewis (six points, 2-of-4 3PT, three assists).
Ole Miss has been able to find it from three frequently in recent games with 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 14 games, Ole Miss has drained at least eight threes in eight contests -- including doing so in four of the last seven games. Ole Miss ranks sixth in the SEC with 6.5 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 rank 48th in the NCAA in blocks per game (4.5) and 40th in total blocks (127) -- 74 of which come from Taylor, who ranks 14th in total blocks and 17th in blocks per game (2.6). 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 11 games this year and at least four in 17 contests.
Because of the surge in blocked shots, the Rebels sit just two blocks short of the single-season record of 129, set back in 1982-83.
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 becoming the 29th Rebel to eclipse the career 1,000-point mark.
Muhammad has scored a career-high 440 points through 26 games played this season and recently moved past Carol Ross (1,015) for 28th all-time at Ole Miss -- currently sitting with 1,031 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 coming off 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 has scored at least 16 points in six of her last 10 games played 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, shooting 41 percent from the field and 75.4 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 11 games this year, with 41 of her 45 total field goals this season coming from three.
SHELBY FROM DOWNTOWN
Sophomore Shelby Gibson is also coming off a career-day from the three-point line vs. Alabama on Feb. 11, 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 15-of-44 this year -- with 41 of her attempts coming in the last 14 games.
SERIOUS PLAYING TIME
Junior Alissa Alston has logged at least 35 minutes in 13 of her last 15 games, resulting in her playing for 91.1 percent of all available floor time in that span (556 of 610 available minutes). When taking out 26 minutes vs. Mizzou and 16 vs. MSU due to foul trouble, that percentage goes up to 97.0 (514 of 530).
Alston ranks third overall in the SEC with 35.5 minutes played, as well as second in conference-only games with 37.1 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 2.6 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.
Freshman Promise Taylor was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the third time this season on Jan. 23, making her the winningest freshman of the award in Ole Miss women’s basketball history.
Taylor has recorded four double-doubles this season and, aside from her profiency in shot blocking, is also the SEC’s top freshman in shooting percentage, ranking second at .608. She also leads in SEC-only shooting at .636.
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.
TOURNAMENT TEAMS ON THE DOCKET
Ole Miss plays 12 schools in 2017-18 that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17.
Troy (Nov. 21, W, 96-93)
1st Round, lost to runner-up Mississippi St.
Temple (Nov. 25, W, 64-48)
1st Round, lost to Oregon
No. 9 Oregon (Dec. 17, L, 90-46)
Elite Eight, lost to UConn
Texas Southern (Dec. 28, W, 73-58)
1st Round, lost to Baylor
No. 3 South Carolina (Jan. 4, L, 88-62)
Defending NCAA Champions
No. 3 Mississippi State (L, 76- 45; L, 69-49)
Defending NCAA runners-up
No. 11 Missouri (Jan. 18, L, 67-48)
2nd Round, lost to Florida State
No. 10 Tennessee (Jan. 25, L, 75-66)
2nd Round, lost to Louisville
No. 14 Texas A&M (Feb. 8, L, 83-54)
2nd Round, lost to UCLA
LSU (Feb. 15, L, 84-55)
1st Round, lost to Cal
Kentucky (Feb. 22, L, 79-71)
2nd Round, lost to Ohio State
Auburn (Feb. 25, in Auburn)
1st Round, lost to NC State
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.
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