OXFORD, Miss. – Early November is here, which means the college basketball regular season is right around the corner.
Sunday afternoon’s exhibition game with North Alabama marked the first live game for Ole Miss men’s basketball this season. Head coach Andy Kennedy’s Rebels have a new look this season, with many new players joining some key returnees.
Here are five takeaways from the 94-53 exhibition win over North Alabama:
1. Raining 3s
Freshman guard Devontae Shuler knocked down the Rebels’ first 3 of the game. A little over a minute later, Shuler and Deandre Burnett knocked down back-to-back 3s to give Ole Miss a 17-7 lead. Terence Davis got in on the action with back-to-back treys to push the Rebels’ lead to 23-12 with 10:40 left in the first half.
Shuler went 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Burnett was 3 of 4, and Davis went 2 of 5. As a team, Ole Miss made 9 of 27 shots from deep.
2. Depth in the lineup
Andy Kennedy played 14 guys on Sunday, something he was not able to do last season because of injuries. This gave fans a glimpse of the depth Kennedy anticipates once the regular season kicks off next Friday night against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I’m just trying to get all of these guys some minutes. They all deserve to play,” Kennedy said.
“We’re still trying to figure out the rotation. We’re still trying to figure out who does what, when, where. You guys know next Friday it’s going to be a lot different. When guys make a mistake (then), I won’t be clapping.”
Ole Miss had 21 assists on 36 made field goals, outscored North Alabama’s bench 52-32, and won the rebounding battle 54-45. The Rebels scored 25 points off of the Lions’ 21 turnovers. Ole Miss turned the ball over 19 times.
3. Rebels’ Starting five
Marcanvis Hymon, Dominik Olejniczak, Terence Davis, Breein Tyree, and Markel Crawford started the game for Ole Miss. Tyree was on the wing at shooting guard, while Crawford was the primary ball handler for the Rebels. Davis was the other perimeter player on the floor, making his presence felt early in the first half with nine points on 3 of 6 shooting.
4. Dominik Olejniczak shows no rust
For Drake transfer Dominik Olejniczak, who had to sit out last season after transferring to Ole Miss due to NCAA transfer rules, the wait is over. The 7-footer scored the game’s first points off a layup and showed no rust despite missing an entire season. Olejniczak finished with eight points on 4 of 7 shooting, while grabbing four rebounds.
5. Devontae Shuler already looks comfortable
The freshman out of Oak Hill Academy didn’t seem at all nervous about playing in his first-ever collegiate basketball game. He led all scorers with 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Shuler also grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists in 23 minutes of action. The other two double-figure scorers for Ole Miss were Davis with 13 and Burnett with 11.
Kennedy believes Shuler could be a vital piece to the rotation of guards this season.
“He’s as talented as we have ever signed here guard-wise,” Kennedy said.
“He can guard you. He can dribble past you. He has great instincts. Once he learns the plays, he’s going to be something. He can really help us.”
Andy Kennedy on Devontae Shuler
The Rebels’ regular season begins against Louisiana Friday night at 7 p.m. The men’s team will play game two of a doubleheader as the women host Northwestern State to begin the evening at The Pavilion (5 p.m.).
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)