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Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Goes into Gainesville to Face Florida

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

The Ole Miss men’s basketball team returns to action on Saturday, traveling to the Sunshine State to take on the Florida Gators. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on SEC Network.

Ole Miss (12-10, 3-6 SEC) is coming off a 76-72 win over No. 25 LSU on Tuesday night. The Rebels suffered a season-ending injury to freshman point guard Daeshun Ruffin in the second half to an ACL injury.

Ruffin came into the week as the SEC Freshman of the Week by the conference office after 17 points against Kansas State last Saturday. Against the Tigers, Ruffin led the team with 19 points prior to the injury.

Over the past calendar year, Ole Miss has been a thorn in the side of nationally ranked teams lately, as the Rebels have notched five AP Top-25 victories. Tuesday was the first win in Baton Rouge for the Rebels since 2013. Following a 52-50 win at home vs. No. 10 Tennessee on Feb. 2, 2021, Ole Miss has gone 5-2 against ranked squads, with the lone losses by a combined 15 points at No. 18 Tennessee on Jan. 5 of this year (66-60/OT), and against No. 4 Auburn at home on Jan. 15 (80-71). 

Florida (14-8, 4-5 SEC) is coming off back-to-back wins against Oklahoma State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge (81-72) and at Missouri (66-65). The Gators currently sit at No. 49 in the NET, with ranked losses against No. 15 Alabama (83-70), No. 9 Auburn (85-73), No. 12 LSU (64-58) and No. 18 Tennessee (78-71). Florida holds a combined 4-7 record against Quad 1 (1-5) and Quad 2 (3-2), and a combined 10-1 record against Quad 3 (4-0) and Quad 4 (6-1). In non-conference play, the Gators notched a ranked win over No. 20 Florida State on Nov. 14 (71-55) and additional Power-5 wins over Cal (80-60) and Ohio State (71-68), with its non-con losses coming to Oklahoma (74-67), Texas Southern (69-54) and Maryland (70-68).

Florida has ridden a lockdown defense to success this season, ranking in the upper echelon of the NCAA in several defensive categories. Florida owns the SEC’s third-best scoring defense at 64.2 points allowed per game, helped greatly by the NCAA’s 12th-most blocks per game with 5.6 (No. 2 SEC) and 21st-most steals per game at 9.2 (No. 4 SEC). The Gators also own NCAA top-10 marks in free throws made (9th, 343) and attempted (10th, 472), and rank 28th nationally in total three-pointers attempted (572).

The Gators have been without star Colin Castleton since Jan. 15 at South Carolina, who scored 21 points alongside 10 boards and seven blocks against the Rebels last season. Prior to his injury, Castleton was a one-man wrecking crew for the Gators, at the time averaging 15.4 PPG (8th SEC), 9.1 rebounds (2nd SEC, 29th NCAA) and 2.8 blocks (2nd SEC, 20th NCAA) while shooting 53.6 percent overall (3rd SEC) with six double-doubles.

Saturday marks the 117th all-time meeting between the two programs. Florida owns a 68-48 edge in the series, and is 6-4 in the previous 10 matchups with Ole Miss. The Rebels hold the upper hand in Oxford by a 31-23 margin, while the Gators hold a sizeable 41-12 lead in the series in Gainesville.

Ole Miss comes into the contest looking for the first season sweep over the Gators since 2014-15. Back in January the Rebels defeated Florida 70-54.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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