Part II, 2022-2023 Ole Miss Basketball Chronicles: The Schedule and Outlook
OXFORD, Miss. — We are back with Part II of our 2022-23 Ole Miss Basketball Chronicles with a look at the schedule and the season outlook.
The regular season begins tonight! With that comes a fresh look at new expectations, new surprises, and a season’s worth of fun. In the first part of this series, we took the time to get familiar with the team, discussing some of the questions with this roster and explaining how the Rebs could be on the rise.
The Ole Miss basketball team did show us a bit of who they are in the exhibition game against West Georgia last Tuesday. The Rebels would come out on top in that game by a score of 91-62. Jaemyn Brakefield was the highlight of the night after his 16-point outburst, all in the first half. Brakefield also added 8 rebounds in the contest.
In today’s article we are going to take a look at this season’s schedule, breaking down the non-conference slate with an early look to what to watch for in some of these games. We’re also going to be giving a quick look at the rest of the SEC conference and some major headlines for each team.
A New Look Team in the Opener…
If there’s one thing I’ve gathered from covering Ole Miss in the Kermit Davis era, it’s that the starters for the first game will largely be experienced players. Two years ago, Romello White didn’t start the first game. Last year, neither Ruffin nor Brakefield started the first game. Take that for what it is, but it seems more of just rolling out an experienced group to set the tone.
This season, though, Ole Miss lost three major starters from last year (Jarkel Joiner, Nysier Brooks, and Luis Rodriquez). They also lost a spot starter in Austin Crowley. Now take that and pair it with the recent injury to guard Daeshun Ruffin and we may see something a little different for the opening tip on Monday.
In the scrimmage against West Georgia, Ole Miss started four returners with one new team member: Ruffin, Matthew Murrell, Jaemyn Brakfield, Robert Allen, and Myles Burns.
This kicks things off for the first major game to tune into, tonight, November 7th, as the Rebels hosts Alcorn State. This will be the first time we see Ole Miss play a serious game with a ton of fresh faces.
We will begin to see some answers to questions that have built up all offseason. The main one is who is going to start at point guard and who will step up? Will Davis continue to use experience and roll out the four starters from the scrimmage? Will they turn to go big and open up a spot for Theo Akwuba?
One can only speculate, but to replace an injured Ruffin (day to day with a bone bruise), look for Ole Miss to use Amaree Abram who has taken time at the point position or use Murrell/Tye Fagan as a potential option like at times last year. Or they could bring James White into the lineup to adding a scoring punch. Any way you spin it, this game will be fun.
Once Again, the MTE Will be Important
Last year Ole Miss competed in the Shriners Children’s Classic in Charleston SC. That event featured many teams that offered good NET resume-boosting opportunities. Two of the three opponents for Ole Miss in last year’s event ended up playing in the tournament (Marquette and Boise State).
This season will see the Rebels take a trip to Orlando to compete in the ESPN Events Invitational. The invitational is set to tip off on November 24th and runs through the Thanksgiving weekend with a strong bracket. It includes a high number of potential tournament teams participating.
For Ole Miss, their first contest is against Stanford. The Cardinal bring a good early-season test. Jerod Haase’s team brings back six of its seven leading scorers from last year’s team, and Haase has his eyes set on the postseason for the first time in his six year tenure.
The Cardinal’s roster includes NBA talent Harrison Ingram who was PAC 12 Freshman of the Year last season. The question in this game comes down to physicality — with Stanford having multiple plus-size, length players — as well as the turnover battle.
Ole Miss will have to limit turnovers while forcing the Cardinal to turn it over like they did last season. Haase’s team was 332nd in that category in the NCAA last year.
After, that Ole Miss will have a contest against either Florida State or Siena.
Another Memphis Thriller?
Ole Miss has played Memphis twice in the last three years. They were supposed to play in the 2020-2021 season but the game was canceled. Last season, Ole Miss bested the nationally-ranked Tigers. Two years before that, Memphis won a wild 87-86 contest at the FedEx Forum. This year will be the next installment in this series as Ole Miss travels to Memphis on Dec. 3rd.
Both teams experienced a bit of a makeover from last year and are hoping to improve from the results of last season. Memphis returns a healthy blend of experience while also looking to the portal to add more. Head coach Penny Hardaway will lean heavily on the two first-team All-AAC selections in SMU transfer Kendric Davis and returning forward DeAndre Williams.
Davis spent the last two seasons averaging 19 points per game. Williams starts the season on the Karl Malone preseason award list.
Hardaway didn’t bring in any high players from the high school recruits, but Memphis has the experience and talent to find itself back in tournament conversation. This one has all the makings of another big NET resume game early on.
A Look Into Each Member of the SEC
The Wildcats come into the year bringing an exciting blend of experience and youth. Last year’s team was the first team to fall as Saint Peter’s began its historic Cinderella run.
They return big man Oscar Tshiebwe along with veteran guard Sahvir Wheeler. Add in Iowa transfer CJ Fredrick and the duo of five star talent Chris Livingston and Cason Wallace, and John Calipari’s squad will be looking for revenge this season after last year’s early exit.
Eric Musselman has had his hands full replacing a large portion of last year’s team. A coach who made his living through finding pieces in the portal, Musselman has now found success in the high school ranks.
Arkansas brought in a ton of high school talent, highlighted by the trio of Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, and Jordan Walsh. That isn’t to say that Musselman didn’t do his work in the portal as he brought in several exciting prospects including Trevon Brazile, who fans may remember as a standout freshman at Missouri last year. Others of note may be the Mitchell brothers from Rhode Island (Makhel & Makhi) and Jalen Graham from Arizona State.
Zakai Ziegler is looking to be one of the most improved players in the conference and has expectations sky high for the Vols. Ole Miss fans may remember in the offseason as Tennessee beat out Ole Miss for Indiana State transfer Tyreke Key.
Head coach Rick Barnes also brought in five star Julian Phillips to help bring some young excitement to Knoxville. Looking ahead, the big question for the Vols is who will be the second ball handler behind Ziegler?
Nate Oats’ team has lost a lot to the NBA in his tenure in Tuscaloosa. However, this year many get to see guard Jahvon Quinerly take on a larger role in this office. Adding in transfer Mark Sears will add another experienced scoring threat to the Tide. This is also Oats’ most talented freshman group as four freshman highlighted by five stars Brandon Miller and Rylan Griffen as well as JUCO darling Nick Pringle make up a top-five recruiting class.
The Tigers output will lean heavily on the returning duo in the backcourt of KD Johnson and Wendell Green. Last season shot distribution issues hindered a team that featured a top-10 defense, including Jabari Smith. This year things may skew more towards the two aforementioned guards. However, Bruce Pearl did work on replacing the frontcourt as they signed five star center Yohan Traore and marquee transfer Johni Broome.
New coach Todd Golden didn’t have long to set the tone in Gainesville after a successful stint at San Francisco. The first-year coach is looking to have a key 1-2 punch of St. Bonaventure transfer Kyle Lofton and returning big-man Colin Castleton. Those two have a largely talented supporting cast around them in LSU transfer Alex Fudge, Belmont transfer Will Richard, Myreon Jones, and Kowacie Reeves.
7. Texas A&M
Head coach Buzz Williams did bring in four transfers but the large bulk of this A&M roster decided to run it back. The Aggies return four of their top five scoring options from last year’s NIT team. The most impactful transfer maybe Khalen Robinson from Arkansas as he looks to help A&M have another highly stout defensive unit.
Matt McMahon had quite the job coming into the season. LSU’s program lost almost its entire roster from last year (well at least 90% of their scoring). McMahon brought two key transfers with him from Murray State. K.J. Williams tested the NBA waters but ultimately followed McMahon and will be a foundational piece in the success of this LSU team.
Also look to Justice Hill, Kendal Coleman and Adam Miller. Coleman may sound familiar as the Northwestern State center was a player Ole Miss reached out to during the portal cycle.
9. Mississippi State
A lot of the aforementioned coaches on this list looked to use the portal and high school ranks to really shake up the roster. State head coach Chris Jans chose a different strategy. He kept a lot of the old roster together. A good chunk of the core from last year’s team returns. Getting Tolu Smith healthy and keeping him that way will be huge for Jans. Look for transfer piece Eric Reed to bring a scoring presence. D.J. Jeffries is also looking to bounce back this year.
Dennis Gates had his work cut out for him when he got to Columbia. Since, however, the coach has quietly assembled a fun roster for year one. Key pieces Kobe Brown and Ronnie DeGray return. In the portal, Gates signed in-state transfer Isiaih Mosley from Missouri State. Northern Iowa’s Noah Carter should provide the Tigers with a solid three-man scoring punch alongside Mosley and Brown.
Mike White made a shift to Georgia after things in Florida didn’t go as planned. The rebuild in Athens may take a while as Georgia only returned four scholarship players. White had to make a living in the portal (a place where UGA had lost a lot over time) and he signed one player in the high school ranks.
UGA still has Kario Oquendo and he will begin to start this season. Look for UGA to try a variety of different lineups to see how the pieces fit.
Jerry Stackhouse has done an admirable job since leaving the NBA for Vanderbilt, routinely getting players ready for the NBA like Aaron Nesmith, Saben Lee, and Scottie Pippen Jr. The problem has been building it all together. Vanderbilt lost a lot from last year’s team (including Pippen Jr.) but this is set up to be the deepest rotation Pippen has had. Jordan Wright, Myles Stute and Liam Robbins will look to be important pieces for the Commodores this season.
13. South Carolina
Head coach Lamont Paris went to USC after his time at Chattanooga. His biggest victory so far was convincing the highly recruited GG Jackson to reclassify and join the Gamecocks, instead of waiting to play a year later at UNC.
Jackson will draw a lot of attention to a USC team that will look very different after none of the five returning players averaged more than 15.0 minutes a contest. The rest of the lineup could be filled out by Ohio State transfer Meechie Johnson, Illinois transfer Benjamin Bosmans-Verdank, Citadel Transfer Hayden Brown and Daniel Hankins-Sanford. Hankins-Sanford is a fellow true freshman who started alongside Jackson in the scrimmage against Mars Hill.
Ole Miss men’s basketball officially tips off the 2022-23 season when it welcomes in the Alcorn State Braves to town on Monday night. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT inside SJB Pavilion and on SEC Network+.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
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.