After watching the Women go on the road and upset their second ranked team on the season on Sunday, perhaps the Men were... inspired? After a 22-22 barn burner of a first half, Ole Miss went scorched earth on their way to a 70-54 victory to snap a four game losing streak.
Remember when everyone was upset that the Rebels kept Andy Kennedy, while letting Mike White slip away to Florida? Well who’s laughing now?! (no one. absolutely no one is laughing because neither program is succeeding at the moment.)
The win was needed because the road ahead is brutal for the Rebels, so lets take a look at the 1-3-1 behind the victory:
1 Player of the Game
Daeshun Ruffin 21 points (career high) 6 assists and 4 steals
This could have gone to Murrell who dropped 20 on 67% shooting and defended well all night, but Ruffin was electric in this one. Multiple times against the shot clock, he would display his elite quickness with a burst to the basket for a floater or lay up. He got his teammates involved with 6 assists (if he had shooters around him, this would have been an easy double double) and used that quickness defensively for four steals.
Ruffin began the season coming off the bench behind Joiner and all he is doing in Joiner’s absence is making Coach Davis look mighty silly for ever considering it. Yea, he makes freshman plays, but he also makes plays that no one else on this roster can. You live with the young mistakes in a trade for the spark he brings to a team that struggles to score at times.
3 Key Stats
48 is six less than Florida scored the entire game. 48 is 5 less than Ole Miss scored against Mizzou and 3 less than the Rebs scored against A&M. 48 also happens to be the amount of points scored by Ole Miss in the second half against Florida. That’s a lot if you were wondering.
Thirteen three point attempts by Ole Miss is a scary but encouraging number. It is scary because that number is so low for a poor shooting team, it is hard to win without more attempts. However, it is encouraging because it means they did not settle for jumpers, evident by the amount of touches Brooks got in the paint. Overall they went 4-13 with Murrell hitting 3 of the 4.
The turnover differential in the game. Florida turned it over 14 times while Ole Miss just 10. Success for this team is predicated upon their defense and forcing turnovers with their 1-3-1 trap. Winning the turnover battle is often an indicator of a corresponding result.
1 Important Observation
I understand that I started watching Ole Miss basketball in the Todd Abernathy days so what I am about to say next could be hyperbole and borderline blasphemous to some. However, I have coached basketball for four years, was a manager for a college program and cover the NBA. I watch a lot of hoops and Matthew Murrell is the most talented basketball player to ever put on a Rebels uniform. Yes more than Justin Reed, Ansu Sesay, Terrance Davis etc.
Outside of being the highest rated recruit in program history, Murrell has the game to back that rating up and it is criminal how misused he was early in the season. Another young player perhaps benefitting from the absence of Joiner. The most impressive moment for Murrell in this game was on a corner three when he was running off a screen from the opposite side and he read the defender cheating the screen and he faded to the corner. That kind of off-ball movement is NBA stuff.
Kermit snagged a stud. However, it might have been too late into this season. As he continues to grow, Murrell has a real chance of being a rare player in this program to leave early to declare for the NBA Draft after his junior year next season.
Ole Miss is back in action on Wednesday as the host an uber talented, yet mildly underachieving Arkansas squad before the SEC-BIG 12 challenge kicks off Saturday against Kansas State.