By Ian Sparks
The Ole Miss Men’s basketball team kicked off their season Nov. 7 against the Alcorn State Braves, winning 73-58. Game one of 30 saw Kermit Davis’s team put out a strong showing against the visiting Braves in a perfect start for the Rebels. Starting off the season with a solid win, Ole Miss is looking ahead to a very exciting road ahead.
The Rebels have a tough schedule this year with non-conference opponents including a trio of foes from the AAC in Memphis, UCF and Temple. There are also six games against Top 25 teams in the SEC, like Tennessee and Kentucky. That being said, the Rebels hauled in 11 new faces over the offseason, both from the transfer portal and incoming freshmen. Those 11 players contributed to the Rebels having the 27th ranked recruiting class in the entire country, one of the highest in program history.
As for any team, the goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament. While for teams in the upper echelon their goal is to win it all, getting back to the Big Dance is a more-than achievable goal for this team.
With star guards Daeshun Ruffin and Matt Murell returning for their second and third year respectively, the Rebel backcourt is extremely talented. Murrell was selected as Second Team Preseason All-SEC by the coaches, something that is easily achievable for someone with his ability. As for Ruffin, he missed the first game due to an injury picked up against West Georgia in an exhibition along with recovering from his season-ending ACL injury last year.
Forward transfers Theo Akwuba and Myles Burns, along with returning junior Jaemyn Brakefield, have added a new dynamic for the Rebels. Akwuba and Burns both previously played in Louisiana, with the former at Louisiana-Lafayette and the latter at Loyola New Orleans. Burns had a promising start to the season with nine points and six rebounds to go along with 2 steals and a block. Similarly, Akwuba had a solid start and snatched 10 rebounds with two blocks, something Coach Davis will look for more of from his big man.