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Defense Shines as Ole Miss Wins Opener over New Orleans, 82-61

Defense Shines as Ole Miss Wins Opener over New Orleans, 82-61

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss men’s basketball opened its season Tuesday night with an 82-61 win over New Orleans.

The debut of this Kermit Davis team has long been awaited, as it has been labeled the most talented group in his Ole Miss tenure. The Rebels needed players to step up following the departures of Devontae Shuler and Romello White.

Prior to the start of this season, Coach Davis indicated he wants this team to play faster and get out more. The restructured roster is supposed to improve the offense with spacing while maintaining a strong defensive presence. Their physicality was on notice in their scrimmage against Ohio State.

Rebels use depth and talent to defeat New Orleans

Ole Miss found victory as the Rebels used their depth and talent to get out and score against New Orleans. Ole Miss (1-0) had five players score in double figures: Austin Crowley, Jarkel Joiner, Nysier Brooks, Jaemyn Brakefield, and Tye Fagan. Not a single player played over thirty minutes, and ten logged double-digit minutes in this one.

Crowley, who notched 13 points and led the team in scoring, added four assists, four rebounds, and three steals in an all-around impressive performance. Jarkel Joiner (12) and Nysier Brooks (11) were the next highest scorers. Ole Miss shot an overall 53% from the field and 41% from three en route to 82-61 win.

The Pioneers shot 44% in the contest. They were led Derek St. Hilare who scored 21. Overall, New Orleans rebounded with Ole Miss but turnovers were the difference-maker in this one. Ole Miss would score 17 points off 19 New Orleans’ turnovers while the Pioneers could only muster six off of the Rebels 12, the first of which came with six minutes left in the first half.

First-half action

Ole Miss struggled to knock down shots out of the gate. The Pioneers would take a 17-11 lead behind the back of Derek St. Hilare who knocked down a couple of early triples. UNO was shooting at a really high clip despite some solid Rebel defense, making 7-of-10 shots.

After a Kermit Davis timeout, things immediately began to click for the Rebels. Trailing 19-17 with 8:44 left, Ole Miss would proceed to go a 19-2 run to firmly take the lead, 30-19. In the midst of that stretch, we saw Austin Crowley make eight straight points within two minutes and the Ole Miss defense would force nine turnovers. When Ole Miss went to Kermit Davis’s patented 1-3-1 defense, UNO looked lost.

At halftime, the Rebels were shooting 52% as well as 42% from deep. Crowley led the Rebels in the first half with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting and 3-for-3 from deep. Jarkel Joiner also chipped in nine points while Tye Fagan added 7 off the bench.

Second-half action

In the second half, we saw Ole Miss continue to put its foot on the gas, outscoring the Pioneers, 39-30. Luis Rodriquez’ defensive prowess stole the show as he notched three steals in the contest, two of which led to easy transition points. This was part of an early 8-0 run in the second that would separate the Rebels in this one. He would add seven points in the half.

The other big surprise in the second was the confidence of Brakefield.  In eight minutes of second-half action, he would score ten points in a variety of impressive ways. He really showed the offensive versatility that had people buzzing in the offseason.

Later in the second we also got a taste of the future as we saw all four freshmen take the court. Daeshun Ruffin and Eric van der Heijden logged some first-half minutes, while White and Slatten saw their first official game minutes. Overall in the second, Ole Miss would shoot 53% from the field (16-30) and 3-for-8 from deep.

Next Up

Ole Miss hosts Charleston Southern Friday. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m.

About The Author

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is a current MBA student at Ole Miss after having earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toledo. He currently covers college hoops and the NBA Draft for the Basketball Society as well as all things Ole Miss for The Rebel Walk.

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