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Ole Miss feeling ‘really good’ for opener vs. Alcorn State

Sportsnaut
Oct 19, 2022; Birmingham, Alabama, US; Mississippi Rebels guard Matthew Murrell during the SEC Basketball Media Days at Grand Bohemian Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss will unveil a squad that looks vastly different from last season when it opens against visiting Alcorn State on Monday in Oxford, Miss.

The Rebels had eight players transfer or graduate since going 13-19 overall and 4-14 in Southeastern Conference play, including leading scorer Jarkel Joiner (13.2 points per game) to NC State.

Mississippi, however, returns its backcourt of Daeshun Ruffin (12.6 ppg, 3.4 apg) and Matthew Murrell (12.1 ppg. 3.0 rpg).

“We feel really good,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “I think Matt Murrell is one of the very best guards in college basketball.”

The Rebels will be counting on improved play from forward Jaemyn Brakefield (7.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and guard Tye Fagan (7.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg), while two four-star recruits — forward Malique Ewin and guard Amaree Abram — should bolster the team’s depth.

Ole Miss signed four veteran frontcourt players from the transfer portal to improve its inside presence to replace Nysier Brooks (team-high 7.3 rpg).

Josh Mballa, who averaged 13.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for Buffalo last season, leads the group, which includes Theo Akwuba (Louisiana), Jayveous McKinnis (Jackson State) and Myles Burns (Loyola-New Orleans).

“I like our team,” said Davis, who is entering his fifth season with the Rebels. “It’s the best depth we’ve had since I’ve been at Ole Miss.”

Alcorn State came within a win of making the NCAA Tournament last season when it fell to Texas Southern in the SWAC tournament title game and finished 17-17 after a first-round loss in the NIT.

The Braves are led by forward Keondre Montgomery (9.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and guards Dominic Brewton (9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Oddyst Walker (7.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

“We understand what’s at stake,” Alcorn State coach Landon Bussie said. “The biggest thing for us is maintaining consistency so we have a chance to have a successful season.”

–Field Level Media