Record-breaking defensive performance guides men’s basketball in 74-53 win over Troy

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

By Mike Swartz

Following their highest offensive output on the season in the previous game, Ole Miss put up an incredible showing on the defensive side against Troy, securing a 74-53 victory on Tuesday in the Sandy and John Black Pavilion.

Taking the court on his 22nd irthday, Matthew Murrell broke the Ole Miss record for steals in a game with 10, previously owned by program legends Gerald Glass and Eric Laird, who each had eight. His 10-steal performance is tied for the most in SEC history, tying him with Anthony Murray of Georgia in 1978 and Shawn Griggs of LSU in 1991. His performance is the most in a game across college basketball since 2020, and is tied for the 25th-most in NCAA history.

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This was the first career double-double for Murrell, and the first in school history achieved via points and steals.

Jaemyn Brakefield picked up where he left off against Cal, sinking the first shot of the game from deep after setting a career-high in points against the Golden Bears. While the visitors took an early lead 8-7 around five minutes into the action, Ole Miss (11-0) stepped back out in front and never looked back.

Following a Murrell steal, Jaylen Murray connected on a fastbreak bucket to put the Rebels up 11 on Troy (5-6) with just over five minutes to go. A thunderous dunk from Murrell with a minute before the midway break gave the home team a 12-point lead, eventually heading to the locker room up 31-22.

The stifling defense of Ole Miss held the Trojans to just 28.6% shooting in the first half. Jamarion Sharp helped lead the effort with six blocks in the first 20 minutes, tying the SJB Pavilion record for blocks by a Rebel in a single game and tying him for the seventh-most in a single game in school history.

To open the second half, the Rebels connected on nine consecutive field goals to help stretch their lead to 18. Ole Miss would hold on to win by 21 points, their largest margin of victory of the season.

The Rebels led for over 38 minutes of play for the fourth time this year. Four members of the team scored in double figures, as Murrell led with 18, fellow birthday-mate Brakefield with 17, Jaylen Murray with 16, and Allen Flanigan with 13. Flanigan helped orchestrate the offense with a career-high nine assists.

Entering today’s contest, Troy boasted the No. 21 scoring offense in the nation, averaging 85.8 points per game. The Ole Miss defense held the Trojans to their lowest output of the year, previously scoring no less than 70. The Rebels forced 25 turnovers in a game for the first time since December of 2020.

Ole Miss is 11-0 to begin a season for the fourth time in school history, while their 11-straight victories are tied for the fifth-longest overall ever.

Troy was led in scoring by Tayton Conerway, who came off the bench to score 13, while Aamer Muhammad chipped in 11.

The Rebels will hit the road for an in-state matchup with Southern Mississippi in Biloxi, Miss., where they’ll face the Golden Eagles on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 1 p.m. This will be the third neutral-site game between the two programs in Biloxi.