By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss Rebels opened SEC play at home with an 82-72 win over in-state rival the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday.
“There’s nothing like a rivalry game,” Coach Kermit Davis said. “I’ve grown up with this rivalry my whole life and I’ve been on both sides of it, which is unique. Sure am glad to be on this side. (MSU) has a great chance at going to the NCAA Tournament. They’re well-coached, tough. It was a great game, great crowd, and I appreciate everybody that came.”
Ole Miss (9-5, 1-1 SEC) was led on the court by Matthew Murrell with 31 points.
“We got off to an unbelievable start,” Davis said. “We got into a great rhythm and Matt Murrell just got into an unbelievable zone. He’s been practicing like that lately and making every shot like that.”
Murrell only missed one field goal in the game and went 10-of-11 shooting, a 5-of-5 line from three and a 6-of-6 free throw clip – 23 of which came in a demonstrative first half. Those 31 total points are tied for the most by any SEC player this season and also stand as the most scored by any SEC player in conference play this year. He is just the third Rebel to ever go 5-of-5 from beyond the arc in a game, joining Devontae Shuler vs. Jackson State on Dec. 10, 2020, and Joe Harvell on March 9, 1990. Murrell’s 23 first-half points are the most by a Rebel in the first half against an SEC opponent since Stefan Moody scored 24 against Mississippi State on March 2, 2016.
“Last time I felt this in the zone was at IMG [Academy] in high school when I had played on ESPN,” Murrell said. “That was the last time I’ve felt this way.”
A total of four Rebels finished in double figures on the night as Daeshun Ruffin (17), Nysier Brooks (15), Jaemyn Brakefield (15) all followed Murrell.
Brooks added 16 rebounds to his total on the evening.
Ole Miss started out strong from beyond the arc hitting the first three 3-pointers of the game. They finished 11-of-23 from downtown.
Ole Miss scored 50 points in the first half as they took a 50-36 advantage into the locker room at halftime over Mississippi State. The Rebels 50 point first half was most by Ole Miss vs. an SEC opponent since scoring 51 vs. MSU on Jan. 31, 2017.
Mississippi State was led by Iverson Molinar and Garrison Brooks who each scored 16 points.
The Bulldogs outrebounded Ole Miss 37 to 36 on the glass. The Rebels forced State to turn the ball over 11 times.
Ole Miss returns to action on Tuesday as they travel to College Station, Texas to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network.