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Ole Miss basketball blows past UT-Martin, 90-43

A nice tune-up before conference play.

Ole Miss Athletics

The result was never really in doubt, and Ole Miss had some offensive fireworks as it ran past the UT-Martin Skyhawks on Tuesday, 90-43.

The Rebels (5-1) entered Tuesday’s game fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing a mere 54.6 PPG, a number that improved heading into next week’s date with Alabama by just giving up 43 to UTM (3-2). What showed promise, however, was the offensive performance from players not named Devontae Shuler.

Shuler only had six points on the night, but, in contrast to the last game on the road at Dayton, four Rebels stepped up in his stead and reached double-digit point totals: K.J. Buffen (16), Jarkel Joiner (16), Matthew Murrell (13) and Austin Crowley (11). Although the talent differential between Dayton and Tennessee-Martin is profound, it is still a good sign that these four were able to step up and contribute when Shuler didn’t have his most gaudy performance.

Joiner, Murrell and Crowley all needed a confidence boost heading into league play, and hopefully they got it on Tuesday.

As mentioned above, Ole Miss’ defense continued to impress on Tuesday night, a hallmark of Kermit Davis teams. Along with allowing just 43 points to the Skyhawks, Ole Miss forced a 30.4 shooting percentage from UTM in the game, and no Skyhawk reached double digits in scoring.

Again, the Rebels will face much stiffer competition when SEC play starts in a week, but the early returns are that this defense is v good and could keep Ole Miss in some ballgames in league play. Now, the offense just has to follow.

It remains to be seen whether or not the shooting will do just that, but Tuesday was a good sign moving forward for the boys in Red and Blue. Confidence and momentum are key for all teams but especially one whose season was delayed due to COVID-19. We’ll see if it continues.

Ole Miss isn’t scheduled to play again until after Christmas when the Rebels travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (5-3) on Dec. 29. Tip is set for 8 p.m.