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Ole Miss defeats Southern Miss for seventh straight win to sweep homestand

The game at times was as ugly as the Christmas sweater head coach Matt Insell wore but Ole Miss did just enough.

The Rebels defeated Southern Mississippi 68-59 in front of an announced record crowd of 8,229 in the annual ‘Kids Day’ game on Tuesday afternoon at the Pavilion at Ole Miss.

It is the seventh straight win for the Rebels (9-1), who improved their home record to 7-0. It is the second best start at home under Insell. Ole Miss started 11-0 at home last season.

Madinah Muhammad and Alissa Alston each scored a game-high 19 points while CeCe Muhate scored a career-best 10 points.

Ole Miss did a lot of the work without Promise Taylor on the floor. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week sat for 25 of the 40 minutes due to foul trouble early in the game. Taylor picked up her second foul four minutes into the first quarter and sat the rest of the first half.

She finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

“I was happy with a couple (fouls),” Insell said. “I’m trying to get (Taylor) to be more aggressive. She kind of got into a little area where she was being a little soft. I’m trying to get her to be more aggressive. Her fouls early were aggressive. I can handle that.”

Southern Mississippi (6-3) never led and the Rebels led by as many as 15 points but could never close the door. The Golden Eagles got as close as six points late in the fourth quarter but Ole Miss closed out with a 9-3 run in the final three minutes.

“I thought we had some individuals who decided that they didn’t care about guarding anymore,” Insell said. “We’ll go back and look at it on film and I’m sure they know who they are. You can’t get lackadaisical and start thinking about ‘how many points I can score.’ You think about how Ole Miss can improve. You have to guard every single possession. I thought we had some individuals who took plays off.”

Jayla King and Megan Brown each scored 12 points to lead Southern Mississippi. King also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

Southern Mississippi out-rebounded the Rebels 45-34

“Our best rebounder is not out there in Kate Rodgers,” Insell said. “We hope to get her back soon. …Promise and CeCe and those kids have to clean up the boards better. Shelby (Gibson) needs to clean up the boards better. I didn’t play her in the second half because she didn’t rebound.”

Rodgers has missed the past four games after suffering a injury at Temple. Insell hopes to have her back after the Christmas break.

The Rebels took care of business by sweeping their current four-game homestand, but their biggest challenge of the season comes this weekend. Ole Miss heads to Eugene for rematch with No. 9 Oregon (8-1) on Sunday (3 p.m. CT) with a chance to pick up a Top-20 RPI win. Ole Miss defeated Oregon 83-67 at the Pavilion at Ole Miss last season.