OXFORD, Miss. – The non-conference finale for Ole Miss is here, as the Rebels take on a talented Bradley team Friday night (6:00 p.m. CT, ESP3) that has won three straight and eight of its last nine.
Head coach Andy Kennedy’s team looked sharp on both sides of the basketball in Ole Miss’ 85-63 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tuesday night.
The Rebels (6-5) made 28 of 52 shots from the field, including going 14 for 30 from 3-point range. Ole Miss also won the rebounding battle, 34-28, and recorded 25 assists. The Rebels’ defense held the Islanders to 26 of 61 shooting, including a 2 for 7 effort from 3 in the second half.
Tuesday marked the most complete performance the Rebels have had all season long, and they are looking to continue their momentum against Bradley, a team that is stingy on the defensive end. The Braves are one of the best defensive teams in the nation, surrendering only 59.2 points per game and limiting their opponents to 27.5 percent shooting from deep.
On the offensive end, Bradley (10-2) is led by sophomore guard Darrell Brown, who’s averaging 12.9 ppg. Forwards Elijah Childs and Donte Thomas are each averaging over eight points and six rebounds per contest.
This game– against a team that has relied on its defense since the start of the season–will be a nice test for Ole Miss heading into Southeastern Conference play New Year’s weekend.
Three keys for Ole Miss against Bradley
1. Win the rebound battle
Ole Miss has been outrebounded in four of its five losses this season. For the season, the Rebels are averaging 37.5 rebounds per game, while Bradley is averaging 38.3. In order for Ole Miss to come away with the win, the Rebels will need to win the battle of the boards.
2. Give Bruce Stevens more touches
Junior college transfer Bruce Stevens has proven to be the most productive post player for Ole Miss, as of late, notching double-digit performances in three of the team’s last four games. In the Rebels’ win over the Islanders, Stevens notched four points and dished out three assists in 16 minutes of action; however, Ole Miss was able to get past TAMUCC. The Rebels will need Stevens from here on out as SEC play begins next.
3. Spread the basketball around
Ole Miss is a productive team offensively when it doesn’t rush a shot and is able to spread the basketball around to find the right shot. The Rebels did that against the Islanders, recording 25 assists on 28 made field goals. As a result, Ole Miss had five players score in double figures.
Friday night will mark the sixth time and third-consecutive season Ole Miss and Bradley will face off on the hardwood. The Braves lead the all-time series, 3-2, but the Rebels have won the past two games in Oxford.