Rebels Return from Break Against Texas Southern
OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss returns from the holidays with another reigning NCAA Tournament team awaiting them, with Texas Southern making a stop at The Pavilion on Thursday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Ole Miss Rebels (9-3, 0-0 SEC)
Texas Southern Lady Tigers (5-5, 0-0 SWAC)
ON THE AIR
Television/Online: SEC Network + | Play-by-Play: Seth Austin; Color: Lindsay Roy
During the streak, the Rebels were topping opponents by an average of 17.4 points per game and included victories 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 Southern Miss (68-59).
Ole Miss held opponents to 60.1 points per game throughout the streak (with just one opponent breaking 60; Troy, 93), and shot .439 while holding opponents to .320 from the field and a paltry .268 from beyond the arc.
LAST TIME OUT
Ole Miss was able to hold 2017 Elite Eight team Oregon (9-2) to a low 5-of-23 (.217) clip from the three-point line -- a considerable feat considering the Ducks entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in three-point shooting at .436 -- but the Ducks were in control the whole game, scoring 58 of their 90 points in the paint to offset their perimeter game.
The Rebels received double-digit performances out of juniors Barbara Johnson (11 points, career high) and Alissa Alston (10 points), but Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu put on a historic outing. After breaking the all-time freshman NCAA record for triple-doubles last year, Ionescu tied the all-time NCAA record with her seventh after a 21 point, 14 assist and 11 rebound outing.
at Portland State (L, 94-79)
The Rebels (9-3) fell behind early to the Vikings (6-5), with the score standing at 22-9 after the first quarter of play. Portland State kept the gas down to a 46-28 lead at the half, but the Rebels came out swinging in the third quarter and made things interesting right up until the final minutes of play.
Ole Miss has also held opponents to under 60 points seven times this season, including five games in a row from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12 -- the longest-such streak since holding five straight opponents to under 60 in 2015 from Nov. 7 until Dec. 12.
Ole Miss ranks 12th nationally in blocks per game (5.8) and fourth in the SEC in three-point defense (.284).
THE BEST DEFENSE...
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.
At the moment, Ole Miss ranks as one of the top free-throw teams in the NCAA, sitting 13th nationally in attempts (278) and 34th in free throws made (181).
Because of the surge in blocked shots, the Rebels -- at 6.1 blocks per game -- are currently on pace for 174 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 17.7 PPG in those six games -- including a career-high 27 points vs. South Alabama and additional 20-point outings vs. Middle Tennessee (22) and at Portland State (21).
Since Sessom's injury, both Alston and Muhammad have combined for 34.2 PPG and are shooting a combined .391 from the field and .811 from the free throw line for 67 total free throws.
SLICE AND DICE
She hasn't given up on her bread-and-butter, though, leading Ole Miss and ranking fifth in the SEC with 5.0 assists per game. In her career, she has scored in double-digits and had at least five assists seven times -- including thrice 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 174 assists (2.6/game).
OH MY, SHE'S ON FIRE
Muhammad currently ranks fifth in the SEC at 18.5 points per game and has only been held under double-digit twice in 12 games played this year. Additionally, Muhammad has scored at least 19 points seven times this season, she has eclipsed 20 five times and she recorded the first 30-point game at Ole Miss since 2015 with a career-high 30 vs. Arkansas State.
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.
MARLEE TO THE RESCUE
THE KID CAN PLAY
Taylor has been dominant on both ends of the floor, currently ranking ninth nationally in blocks per game (3.0) and seventh in the SEC in shooting percentage (.582).
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, L, 90-46)
Texas Southern (Dec. 28, at home)
South Carolina (Jan. 4, at home)
Mississippi State (Jan. 11; Jan. 28)
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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