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Ole Miss Welcomes in Kentucky into Town

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

The Ole Miss men’s basketball team returns home to play host to the Kentucky Wildcats this evening inside the SJB Pavilion. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.

Ole Miss (9-12, 1-7 SEC) returns to conference action after falling to Oklahoma State 82-60 in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.  Against Oklahoma State, the Rebels were led in scoring by Jaemyn Brakefield and TJ Caldwell who each had 12 points.

This season, the Rebels defense currently averages 67.4 points allowed per game, only letting their opponents top 70 points five times this year. A major part of their defensive identity has been enforcing the paint, as the Rebels rank 29th in the country and fourth in the SEC in blocks per game (4.8). They are led down low by senior transfers Theo Akwuba (26 total blocks, 1.24 per game) and Jayveous McKinnis (25 total blocks, 1.25 per game).

Kentucky comes into Oxford with a 14-7 overall record and 5-3 mark in the conference after falling to No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks 77-68 in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.

Kentucky began the season with a pair of wins before falling to Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic. Before their SEC opener on December 28th, the Wildcats picked up wins over South Carolina State, North Florida, Bellarmine, Michigan, Yale, and Florida A&M. In conference play Kentucky has picked up five wins, defeating LSU, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt, while falling to Missouri, Alabama, and South Carolina.

Four Wildcats come into tonight’s matchup averaging double figures on the year, led by Oscar Tshiebwe at 16.6. The senior forward leads the nation in rebounding as well, averaging 13.7 per game on the year, grabbing an SEC-best 15.0 per contest in conference play. Sahvir Wheeler helps run the offense for Kentucky, ranking in the top-30 nationwide in assists per game (5.5, No. 22) and assist to turnover ratio (2.76, No. 26).

As a team, Kentucky ranks highly among college basketball in rebounding margin (+7.9, No. 7), offensive rebounds per game (13.5, No. 11), assists per game (16.3, No. 23), assist to turnover ratio (1.41, No. 26), and rebounds per game (38.9, No. 32). They lead the conference in three-point shooting percentage as well at 36.2 percent.

This evening’s game will be the 124 meeting between the Rebels and the Wildcats. Kentucky has won 109 of the meetings over Ole Miss. The latest victory for the Rebels in the series came just recently in 2021, when Ole Miss defeated the Wildcats 70-62 in the SJB Pavilion. The Rebels took a three-point lead at halftime and held on through the end for the eight-point victory, with 17 points from Devontae Shuler and 16 from KJ Buffen giving Ole Miss their 14th win ever in the series.

Last season, Ole Miss dropped an 11-point hard-fought game to the Wildcats 83-72 on the road in Lexington, KY. Matthew Murrell led the way in scoring with 25 points and just his second game of the season in which he hit five three pointers.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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