Friday, March 31, 2023

Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Unable to Catch High-Powered No. 6 Kentucky, 83-72

The Rebels fought and scraped to stay in the game, but despite a big night from Matthew Murrell the Ole Miss men’s basketball team was unable to keep pace with a powerful No. 6 Kentucky squad, falling to the Wildcats 83-72 at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night.

Ole Miss (13-17, 4-13 SEC) shot 50 percent and were able to battle on the glass with the nation’s best rebounding unit, but Kentucky (24-6, 13-4 SEC) shot an incredible 61.5 percent overall and were led by another dominant 18-point, 15-rebound outing from national player of the year candidate, Oscar Tshiebwe.

“I thought our team played with great earnestness and good offense all game,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “At times when we’d get that lead down to six, we just couldn’t keep (Sahvir) Wheeler out of the paint. They’re just great on Senior Night and they’ve been this way for 100 years. Credit to our guys, I was proud of them. Hats off to Kentucky, because they’re a team that can win the national championship for sure.”

Out of the gates, the Rebels traded blows with the Wildcats, building an early 6-5 lead 3:18 into the game. In response, Kentucky would find its footing by putting together a 10-0 run from 16:21 to 14:00, as well as stringing together seven consecutive field goals from 16:21 to 11:15.

The Rebels were able to hang tight with the Wildcats, however, with the scoring of Matthew Murrell and strong rebounding of Jaemyn Brakefield, which allowed Ole Miss to make multiple runs and cut the Wildcat lead down to just one possession at the 10:08 and the 5:48 marks.

Despite this, Kentucky would close the half outscoring the Rebels 14-8 over the final 5:34 of play and carry a 44-35 lead over Ole Miss into the half. Murrell’s first half concluded with 10 points, while Brakefield’s was capped with six points and seven rebounds.

To open the second half, Kentucky continued to showcase its talent on both ends of the floor by leaning on Tshiebwe and Wheeler (16 points, seven assists) to maintain a double-digit Wildcat lead for a majority of the second half. With just 6:03 left on the clock, Kentucky seemingly had the game well in hand, leading the Rebels 70-56.

However, it was at this point that the Rebels found a spark from freshman James White, who would help mount a 14-6 Rebel run over the next 3:48 to cut the deficit down to just six points with 2:15 left to play. White would score six of his career-high eight points on the night during the run, finishing 4-of-4 shooting from the field.

This run would prove to be the last gasp for the Rebels, however, as Kentucky would close out the game on a 7-2 run of its own to not only regain their double-digit advantage but to seal victory over the Rebels in Lexington.

Leading the way for Ole Miss was Matthew Murrell, who ended his night with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting while going 5-of-8 from three-point range. This marks the fourth game of Murrell’s season that he’s ended with 20 points or more, as well as his second career game with five total three-pointers. Murrell would also tie his career-high in assists with four on the night.

The Rebels will now close out their regular season back at SJB Pavilion this Saturday (March 5), with Ole Miss hosting Vanderbilt (14-14, 6-10 SEC) for the Senior Day. Tipoff against the Commodores is set for 5 p.m. CT on SEC Network.


Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports