Ole Miss basketball tips off season with victory

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Coach Beard starts Rebel career on winning note

A strong defensive effort and balanced offensive attack helped lead the Ole Miss men’s basketball team to a win over Alabama State 69-59 Monday night in the SJB Pavilion.

Beginning his fourth year with the program, Matthew Murrell led the charge offensively with 16 points, tying his career-best with nine rebounds. Allen Flanigan recorded his third double-double of his career with 15 points and a career-high 12 boards, while TJ Caldwell and Jaylen Murray chipped in 15 as well.

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The Ole Miss (1-0) defense held the visiting Hornets (0-1) to 27.4 percent shooting from the floor, the lowest opponent field goal percentage in a game for the Rebels in just short of a decade.

The home team took the lead just under 20 seconds into the action and remained in front a majority of the first half. Following a free throw from Flanigan to make it 19-16, Alabama State tied the game on a three pointer moments later. Trailing by two with just over five minutes to go before halftime, Murrell capped off a 12-2 run with an and-one conversion to make it 35-27. The Rebels entered halftime with a five-point lead.

In the second half, TJ Caldwell set a new career-high for single points in a game, scoring 12 of his 15 in the last 20 minutes of play. An electric dunk from Murrell on a breakaway with six minutes left gave Ole Miss a double-digit lead, up 59-48.

The Rebels would hold the advantage through the final buzzer, starting off head coach Chris Beard’s career with the program on the winning side.

The Hornets were led in scoring by Antonio Madlock and CJ Hines, who each scored 12. Amarr Knox came off the bench for Alabama State and added 11.

Ole Miss will be back in the SJB Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 10, when they host Eastern Washington for the first time in program history at 7 p.m.