OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss men’s basketball (4-3) will have an opportunity to get a quality win Saturday (5 p.m. CT) against Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders (6-1) have an NCAA rating percentage index (RPI) of 15 and are coming off a 66-63 victory at Vanderbilt that extends their winning streak to four.
Following back-to-back overtime losses at home to South Dakota State and Virginia Tech, head coach Andy Kennedy’s Rebels are looking for a win on the road against Middle Tennessee State.
While victories over the Jackrabbits and Hokies would have helped the Rebels’ tournament resume standout early in the season, since both programs are ranked in the RPI 100–SDSU at No. 65 and Virginia Tech at No. 84–Andy Kennedy’s team can certainly rebound with a win over MTSU.
A big part of the Blue Raiders’ success comes from the leadership of senior forward Nick King, who is averaging 24.1 points per game and ranks fifth in the nation. Senior forward Brandon Walter is averaging 12.2 points and 5 rebounds per contest and leads the team with eight blocks.
Defensively, MTSU is one of the best in Conference-USA, holding opponents to 66.3 points per game. The Rebels will be playing their first true road game of the season and are 7-4 in first true road games of each season under Andy Kennedy.
Three things to watch in Saturday’s Ole Miss vs. MTSU matchup
1. Free throwing shooting
Ole Miss is shooting 67.5 percent from the free throw line, converting on 114 of 169 attempts. The Rebels are averaging 16.3 attempts per game. At the charity stripe, Ole Miss has taken a few steps back compared to last season when the Rebels were one of the best free throwing shooting teams in the country, making 75.2 percent of their attempts. MTSU is currently shooting 74.1 percent from the free throw line this season.
Both programs have benefitted from turnovers this season. MTSU’s opponents have averaged 15.4 turnovers per game, while Ole Miss’ opponents are averaging 14 turnovers per contest. The Blue Raiders and the Rebels are a plus 2.4 and 1.9 in turnover margin, respectively, entering today’s game.
3. Two legit scorers in same game
Saturday’s contest will feature two legit scorers in Ole Miss’ Terence Davis and MTSU’s Nick King. Davis leads Ole Miss with 17.9 points per game.
King, a Memphis native and former East High standout, is averaging 24.1 points per contest. Davis is shooting 48.4 percent from the field, while King is shooting 56.6 percent.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)