By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss women’s basketball team took down the Kansas Jayhawks 70-53 at home on Thursday night in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
“It was a really great game for us,” head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “Really concerned about the Kansas experience level. They are really well-coached. I knew that we would have to disrupt them defensively to have a chance. I thought we did that for three quarters and ended up paying off for us.”
The Ole Miss defense made it difficult on Kansas all game long by holding them to 32 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. The Rebels forced 25 turnovers and ten steals.
“We just branded our defense. It’s called ‘Double-D’,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We want to dictate and disrupt. We have been working on that … We pick up full court and want to be in the passing lane. When you have teams that really thrive on a certain cadence on the offensive end, defensively you have to disrupt that or they would have really punished us. [Kansas] runs great stuff on the offensive end.”
This season, McPhee-McCuin and her staff have brought in a bigger and more aggressive squad to the Rebels lineup.
“If we had AP [Andeija Puckett] it would be even more aggressive,” McPhee-McCuin said. “Proud of our team. Year one was assessment, year two foundation and year three is proof of concept. This is year three. We finally got the kids in that we thought could allow us to play the way we want to play and represent Ole Miss. I thought that they did that well tonight.”
Ole Miss (2-0, 0-0 SEC) was led on the floor by redshirt sophomore Donnetta Johnson, who scored 21 points.
“Donnetta has worked extremely hard for a year,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I have watched her work… When you study for a test, you don’t have to study anymore. You know the material. You’re ready to let the game pay you back, and she allowed herself to do that tonight.”
Her teammate, freshman Madison Scott, continued to play hard on the court with a lot of emotion.
“Maddy is a young lady that turned down four other top 25 programs to come here,” McPhee-McCuin said. “She didn’t come here to lose, she came here to win. She is our emotional player. She just cried like a baby at the end of the game. I know why she cried. She cried because when she chose us, a lot of people told her she was making a mistake … A lot of people told her she would not be a McDonald’s All-American, a lot of people asked why Ole Miss? She wanted this game. I was like a proud parent, just watching her just blossom out there.”
Kansas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) was led on the floor by Holly Kersgieter, who scored 20 points. She added nine rebounds and three assists to her stats line.
Ole Miss returns to the court on Tuesday as they play host to Alcorn State. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. inside the Pavilion on SEC Network+.