By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss men’s basketball plays host to Samford on Tuesday afternoon in the final non-conference matchup prior to the Christmas break. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network+.
Ole Miss (8-3) is coming off of a 76-68 win over the Dayton Flyers on Saturday. The Rebels were led by Daeshun Ruffin with 19 points and Nysier Brooks with 16 points.
Against the Flyers, Ole Miss hit at their best shooting performance of the season at 57.1 percent.
Ruffin has made his return to the court after a four-week absence with a fractured hand in the second half against New Orleans. He is averaging 15.5 points, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and shooting 50 percent overall and 72.2 percent from the free throw line over his last two games against Middle Tennessee and Dayton.
Samford rolls into Oxford with a 9-2 overall record and have won seven of its last eight games. In that stretch is a Power-5 win at Oregon State on Nov. 18, when the Bulldogs prevailed, 78-77. Samford shoots a high volume from beyond the arc, holding the NCAA’s 18th-most threes attempted this season (335) as well as its 22nd-most threes made per game (10.3) — setting up a battle against a stout Rebel three-point defense currently owning the NCAA’s No. 26 opposing three-point percentage. The Bulldogs are also skilled on the defensive end, leading the SoCon with 17.1 turnovers forced per game (33rd NCAA) and 8.5 steals per game (2nd SoCon, 56th NCAA).
Leading the way for Samford is Ques Glover, who is averaging 19.1 points and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the floor and 89.1 percent from the free throw line (33rd NCAA). Jermaine Marshall is nearly averaging a double-double at 12.4 points and 9.2 boards per game. Marshall leads the SoCon and ranks 31st nationally at his 9.2 rebounds per game, and also ranks 17th nationally with his five double-doubles this season (1st SoCon).
On Tuesday, this will be the fourth all-time meeting between the two programs. Ole Miss has won all three games against Samford. The series opened on Dec. 5, 1977, with an 81-68 Rebel win in Birmingham, followed by two more victories in Oxford on Dec. 8, 1984 (80-66) and the aforementioned last meeting on Dec. 31, 2002 (57-49). Overall in the series, the Rebels are winning by an average scoring margin of 11.7 points.