Thursday, December 2, 2021

Ole Miss Gears up for NIT Matchup Against Louisiana Tech

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Ole Miss men’s basketball received a No. 1 seed in the NIT Tournament after not making the NCAA Tournament this season. 

“Our team obviously had their hearts set on playing in the NCAA,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “So proud of our guys down the stretch… Really, the third best record in the SEC in the second half behind Alabama and Arkansas. We’re excited. I have been a part of it three or four times at different schools, and been a part of some great wins in the NIT.”

Ole Miss (16-11) will take on the No. 4 seed Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Friday night in Frisco, Texas. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

“We are ready to play a really well-coached good Louisiana Tech team,” Davis said.

According to Davis, The Rebels will be without KJ Buffen in the NIT, as he has opted out. Also, the staff hopes to get Devontae Shuler back with the team after dealing with a family situation.

Ole Miss will play Jarkel Joiner at point guard if Shuler can’t get back and make COVID protocol.

“Jarkel has to play a lot of point, along with (minutes) from Mathew Murrel and Austin Crowley,” Davis said. Luis Rodriguez will need to take a big jump. Romello White needs to play like the best player in the tournament.”

Louisiana Tech (21-7) comes into the NIT after winning 12 of its final 14 regular-season games before falling in the Conference USA Tournament semifinals.

“They’re talented guys. They play so hard,” Davis said. “They won their league and lost a heartbreaker to North Texas in the semi-finals.

This season, the Bulldogs are led in scoring by Isaiah Crawford, who is averaging 12.1 ppg.

Louisiana Tech led C-USA in field goal percentage defense (44.6) and three-point field goal percentage defense (29.3) with both marks cracking the top 25 nationally.

When the ball is tipped on Friday, it will be the 14th all-time meeting on the court, with Ole Miss leading the series 8-5. This will be the first postseason game matchup. It’s been six years since the last battle on the hardwood, which resulted in a 99-80 victory for Ole Miss in Oxford.