The Ole Miss Men’s Basketball team opens the 2017-18 regular season this evening against Louisiana inside the Pavilion at Ole Miss. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Ole Miss is coming into this matchup after a 94-53 win over North Alabama in an exhibition game on Sunday. The Rebels were led in scoring by freshman Devontae Shuler with 18 points.
“A few weeks ago, I said that (Shuler) would be leading the SEC in scoring before he leaves here, and you saw a glimpse of that as he just snaps it off so quick,” Head Coach Andy Kennedy said. “He is still figuring things out and is not moving as quick as he can. Last season, Shuler led Oak Hill in scoring despite coming off the bench. The reason that he came off the bench, per his coach, was he was a guy that could handle that situation. He also would bring them an energetic spark offensively and defensively, but he still scored and scored quickly.”
Coach Kennedy’s squad had three players score in double figures in the North Alabama game. Teammates junior Terence Davis and senior Deandre Burnett also got into the double-figure scoring action with 13 and 11 points respectively.
Louisiana posted a 21-12 record last year and have been picked by the media to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Conference this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns are led by seniors Frank Bartley and Bryce Washington, who are Preseason All-SBC honorees. Bartley finished second on the team in scoring a season ago, averaging 15.3 points per game. Meanwhile, Washington was a double-double machine (13.5 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game), recording 22 of them throughout the season.
“(Louisiana) is predicted to win their league,” Kennedy said. “They return seven of their top scores from last season, and they add three high-major transfers. It’s kind of like the SEC – they got a transfer from South Carolina, Missouri and USC. “
The Ragin’ Cajuns will have to look for someone to fill the void left by Jay Wright, who led the squad in points (16.2 ppg) and assists (3.9 assists per game) during the 2016-17 campaign. Louisiana was one of the best scoring teams in the country, leading the Sun Belt and ranking 19th nationally with 81.9 ppg. Bob Marlin begins his eighth season as coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns after spending 12 seasons at Sam Houston State.
“I have a lot of respect for Bob Marlin,” Kennedy said. “I know that they are going to be prepared and a team that will do very well in their league.”
The Rebels and the Ragin’ Cajuns have met on the hardwood seven times prior to this game. Louisiana has a 4-3 advantage all-time in the series.