Ole Miss looks to build on momentum against Arkansas

Published 12:46 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Ole Miss men’s basketball has been plagued with inconsistency this season, but they now find themselves with a chance to pull themselves out from among the conference’s bottom dwellers as they prepare to take on Arkansas.

The Rebels (10-9, 2-5 SEC) snapped a four-game losing streak their last time out with a 70-58 victory over Florida at home. Head coach Kermit Davis’s squad caught fire in the second half, shooting 73.9% from the field for their best shooting half since 2009.

Freshman point guard Daeshun Ruffin scored a career-high 21 points while knocking down nine of his 10 attempts from the free throw line. The McDonald’s All-American also dished out six assists and recorded four steals in the win.

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Sophomore Matthew Murrell continued his hot shooting in conference play, scoring 20 points on 8-12 from the field, including 3-6 from beyond the arc. Murrell is averaging 16 points per game in SEC games, shooting 53.5% from the field and over 51% from three-point range.

The Rebels secured a much-needed win to slow their skid and prevent them from falling below .500 for the first time this season. They will have their hands full trying to keep the momentum going against an Arkansas team that made the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Razorbacks (14-5, 4-3 SEC) have won four straight SEC games after starting conference play 0-3. They recorded their best win of the season on Jan. 15, knocking off No. 12 LSU on the road in Baton Rouge.

Guard J.D. Notae leads one of the top offensive teams in the conference, leading the SEC in scoring at 18.6 points per game. The six-foot-two-inch senior also leads the conference in steals, averaging 2.5 per game. He is a volume three-point shooter who enjoys taking advantage of unwitting defenders who go under screens and launching from deep in transition.

The Razorbacks are averaging 79.2 points in 19 games this season, but struggle to hit the deep ball, knocking down just 29% of their looks from three-point range. Their most efficient volume shooter is sophomore Jaxson Robinson, who has knocked down 13 of his 40 attempts from beyond the arc this season.

Head coach Eric Musselman’s squad reached as high as No. 10 in the AP Poll earlier this season before consecutive losses to Oklahoma and Hofstra sent them tumbling out of the rankings. They face a soft part of the schedule over the next two weeks before back-to-back games against Auburn and at Alabama.

Ole Miss has lost three straight matchups with Arkansas dating back to 2019. They have the size advantage down low this year, and center Nysier Brooks will need to impose his will on both ends if the Rebels hope to secure their first win over the Razorbacks since Davis’s first year in Oxford.

The game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. CT, and will air on SEC Network.