Red-hot shooting from Ole Miss inside the paint proved to be the difference for the Rebels in a 76-68 win over the Dayton Flyers on Saturday night.
Ole Miss (8-3) negated a stout Dayton (7-5) defense by shooting the lights out of SJB Pavilion at a season-high 56 percent clip on a 28-of-50 line from the field — scoring 42 of its 76 points in the paint on Saturday night. Dayton also eclipsed 50 percent shooting on the night, but the strength of the Rebel defense shined again, turning 19 Flyer miscues into a season-high 25 points off turnovers and tying a season-high of 11 steals.
This marks the highest Ole Miss team shooting percentage since 2020, when the Rebels shot 59.3 percent in the team’s victory over UT Martin. Led by the scoring of freshman Daeshun Ruffin, who earned himself a career-high 19 points in the victory, as well as the paint presence of Nysier Brooks, the Rebels clawed their way to their ninth straight victory at home in a hard-nosed game that ended with both teams having 21 total personal fouls.
“Really good college game and we beat a really good team, a team that beat Kansas on a neutral floor that’s very well coached,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “It took a team win, a lot of points in the paint with both teams having 42, but the difference was the bench. We got 26 points off the bench, so that was just a good NET game for us. We need that one, but now we’ve got to turn our attention right to Samford on Tuesday.”
The Rebels got off to a hot start from the opening tip, going on a 15-4 run that was capped with an alley-oop connection by Daeshun Ruffin and Nysier Brooks. Brooks, who ended his night with the second double-double of his Rebel career at 16 points and 11 boards, saw high effort on both ends of the court pay off for him in the opening frame. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native tied a career-high of three steals in the first 20 minutes of the game, as well as recording a block in the half as well.
The play of Brooks, paired with a well-rounded first half scoring effort by Ole Miss, helped push the Rebels into the locker room holding a 34-24 lead over Dayton. It was in the second half that Ruffin, a true freshman just one game off of returning from injury, took the game over offensively, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half on 4-of-5 field goal and 9-of-12 free throw shooting splits.
“With a team as good as Dayton is who applies so much pressure on the defensive side of the ball, I feel like I was a good mismatch against them,” Ruffin said. “I feel like when they’re guarding full-court, I’m a very fast guy, so I definitely gave them a little bit of trouble.”
Dayton would close the cap to as close as five points a handful of times in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but a 16-6 Rebel run that included a 9-2 stretch gave Ole Miss enough separation to hold on for victory. Rounded out by a 12-point performance by Jarkel Joiner and Jaemyn Brakefield tying his career-high in steals with three, the Rebels pushed through a gritty second half to maintain their gap over the Flyers, with the scoreboard reading 76-68 at the final buzzer.
The Rebels will look to capture their 10th-consecutive victory at SJB Pavilion next Tuesday (Dec. 21) with Ole Miss set to host Samford at 3:00 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports