Rebels Ready for Big West Coast Trip vs. No. 9 Oregon and Portland State
EUGENE, Ore. -- Ole Miss will take its 9-1 start out to the West Coast for a big road test at No. 9 Oregon (Dec. 17) and Portland State (Dec. 19) before taking nine days off for the holidays.
Ole Miss Rebels (9-1, 0-0 SEC)
#9 Oregon Ducks (8-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
Portland State Vikings (4-5, 0-0 Big Sky) *Portland State plays UC Irvine on Dec. 16
ON THE AIR (vs. Oregon, Dec. 17)
Television/Online: Pac-12 Network | Play-by-Play: Ann Schatz; Color: Elise Woodward
ON THE AIR (vs. Portland State, Dec. 19)
Television/Online: Big Sky Network (Pluto.TV)
RANKED SHOWDOWN IN EUGENE
Under Matt Insell, the Rebels have won four games vs. top-25 schools -- including vs. No. 25 Oregon last season in Oxford (83-67). In that game, Ole Miss forced 17 turnovers and received big performances out of Taylor Manuel (22 points) and Madinah Muhammad (18). The win for Ole Miss was the first over a non-SEC ranked team since the Elite Eight 2006-07 team.
A win vs. Oregon on Sunday would be the 30th all-time Rebel win vs. the top-10 (the first since beating No. 9 Kentucky in 2015-16).
Ole Miss will take a day in between to travel up to Portland, where the Rebels will square off with Portland State on Dec. 19.
REBS ON FIRE
During their winning streak, the Rebels are winning by an average of 17.4 points per game, which include wins over Delaware State (110-58, third-largest point total in Ole Miss history), reigning NCAA Tournament teams Troy (96-93) and Temple (64-48, on the road), perennial postseason player Middle Tennessee (65-56, on national TV), Arkansas State (74-48), South Alabama (66-59) and, most recently, Southern Miss (68-59).
In the streak, Ole Miss is holding opponents to 60.1 points per game (with just one opponent breaking 60; Troy, 93), and shooting .439 while holding opponents to .320 from the field and a paltry .268 from beyond the arc.
LAST TIME OUT (vs. Southern Miss)
Ole Miss improved to 9-1 for the first time since 2005-06 in front of an all-time record crowd of 8,229 -- a loud and energetic Kids Day crowd at The Pavilion.
REBS INCHING CLOSER TO TOP-25
The Rebels are also receiving eight votes in the latest USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll released Dec. 12, doubling the four they received a week earlier. If Ole Miss is able to crack either the AP or USA Today polls, it would be the first time since the final poll of the 2006-07 Elite Eight season that the Rebels ranked in either poll. That year, Ole Miss finished the season No. 10 in both top-25 polls.
At the moment, Ole Miss has three wins over current RPI top-100 teams (Troy, 59; Arkansas State, 87; South Alabama, 92) and have yet to play anyone ranked 250 or below.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
Ole Miss is currently one of 13 teams nationally to be 9-1 or better through at least 10 games played.
A win vs. Oregon would be the 30th all-time Rebel win vs. the top-10 (the first since beating No. 9 Kentucky in 2015-16), move Ole Miss to 10-1 (the best start since 2000-01; 11-0) and mark the first eight-game winning streak since the 2000-01 team won 11 in a row to begin the year.
Ole Miss has also held opponents to under 60 points seven times this season, including in each of its last five games -- the longest-such streak since holding five straight opponents to under 60 from Nov. 7, 2015 until Dec. 12.
Ole Miss ranks as one of the top defenses nationally, sitting 14th in the NCAA in blocks per game (6.1) and 17 in opponent field goal percentage (.339).
THE BEST DEFENSE...
Furthermore, Ole Miss has a scoring margin of 16.7 PPG -- an average that increases to 20.2 in wins this year. That 17.6 margin ranks fourth-best in the SEC and 37th best in the nation.
Junior guard Madinah Muhammad has accounted for 26.0 percent of all Rebel scoring by herself, and that number increases at home (27.0).
GETTING TO THE LINE
The Rebels followed that up with a crucial game on the free throw line vs. Middle Tennessee, going 26-of-31. Much of that came from Alston, who went 14-of-16 -- the most makes since Tia Faleru hit 15 at Missouri on Feb. 15, 2015. Alston was just two shy of the single-game record set by Armintie Price at UAB in 2006-07.
After starting the year with just one game with 20 or more trips to the free throw line, the Rebels have gone on to to at least 20 times in each of the following six games.
Because of the surge in blocked shots, the Rebels -- at 6.1 blocks per game -- are currently on pace for 183 total blocks by season's end, potentially destroying the current single-season record of 129 set in 1982-83.
RECORDS ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
#SplashSisters, PART DEUX?
At the time of her injury, both Sessom and Muhammad were scoring a combined 38.2 points per game -- 45.7 percent of all Rebel scoring at that point. Since that game vs. Middle Tennessee, Alston has given Ole Miss a boost with 18.8 PPG in those four games -- including a career-high 27 points vs. South Alabama.
Since Sessom's injury, both Alston and Muhammad have combined for 38.3 PPG and are shooting a combined .430 from the field and .865 from the free throw line for 58 total free throws.
SLICE AND DICE
She hasn't given up on her bread-and-butter, though, leading Ole Miss and ranking fourth in the SEC with 5.1 assists per game. In her career, she has scored in double-digits and had at least five assists six times -- including twice this season. Alston has a career-high 10 assists to her credit this year as well in the Rebels' record-breaking victory vs. Delaware State on Nov. 18. In her career, Alston has 165 assists (2.5/game).
OH MY, SHE'S ON FIRE
Muhammad currently ranks second in the SEC and 33rd nationally at 20.1 points per game -- an impressive feat despite going scoreless in an eight minute outing at Temple on Nov. 25 while nursing an injury. Entering that game, she was the conference's top scorer at 24.6 PPG.
Other than that game, Muhammad has been unable to be held under 13 points scored, and has set new career-highs three separate times. She opened the season with five straight games in double-digits, the second streak in her career of at least five in a row (her career-long streak is six from Jan. 22 to Feb. 12 last season). Muhammad also scored three straight games with at least 20 points for the first time in her Rebel career during that time.
DON'T STOP ME NOW
THE KID CAN PLAY
Taylor has been dominant on both ends of the floor, currently leading the SEC in blocks (3.1 per game; 7th NCAA) and ranking as the conference's top freshman in shooting percentage with clip of .628, which ranks fourth overall.
ON PACE FOR GREATNESS
Sessom currently ranks as the 24th-best scorer in Ole Miss history with 1,131 career points scored.
TOURNAMENT TEAMS ON THE DOCKET
Troy (Nov. 21, W, 96-93)
Temple (Nov. 25, W, 64-48)
Oregon (Dec. 17, in Eugene)
Texas Southern (Dec. 28, at home)
South Carolina (Jan. 4, at home)
Mississippi State (Jan. 11 away; Jan. 28 home)
Missouri (Jan. 18, at home)
Tennessee (Jan. 25, in Knoxville)
Texas A&M (Feb. 8, in College Station)
LSU (Feb. 15, in Baton Rouge)
Kentucky (Feb. 22, at home)
Auburn (Feb. 25, in Auburn)
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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