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Rebels Hit the Road to Normal to Face Illinois State

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Devontae Shuler leads the SEC in playing time at 33.9 minutes per game while ranking sixth in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (1.8). Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics.

The Ole Miss Rebels basketball team returns to the court Saturday as they take on Illinois State in Normal, Illinois. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Ole Miss (5-2) comes into the matchup after an 83-60 victory over ULM last weekend. In the past two games, the Rebels have shot over 50 percent including a 93-86 victory over San Diego.

Freshman Blake Hinson has reached double digits in the last two games, including a career-high 17 points versus ULM. His teammate Devontae Shuler leads the SEC in playing time at 33.9 minutes per game while ranking sixth in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (1.8).

Illinois State enters Saturday’s contest with a 6-4 record after a 94-75 midweek loss at in-state foe Illinois-Chicago. Five of their six wins have been by single digits, while all four losses have been double-digit games. As a team, the Redbirds take care of the basketball, committing only 12.2 turnovers per game to lead the Missouri Valley Conference. Illinois State also paces the conference in 3-point shooting defense, limiting opponents to 30.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Four Redbirds average double figures in scoring, led by senior Milik Yarbrough at 18.3 ppg. Phil Fayne (14.7 ppg), Josh Jefferson (13.2 ppg) and Zach Copeland (10.2 ppg) follow Yarbrough. The Redbirds are coached by Dan Muller, who is in his seventh season.

Ole Miss is still looking for its first win over Illinois State, as the Redbirds have taken the previous four meetings. Illinois State won the first matchup 76-72 on its home floor (Dec. 23, 1978). The two programs would not play again until 26 years later on the final day of the BCA Classic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Nov. 16, 2004), a 70-52 victory for the Redbirds. In the NIT (March 14, 2012), Illinois State claimed a 96-93 OT win in Tad Smith Coliseum. A home-and-home series started back up last year, and the Redbirds knocked off the Rebels 101-97 in overtime at The Pavilion.

Fans can watch all the action on NBC Sports Chicago (ESPN+) or listen to the call on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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