Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Welcomes Eastern Washington Friday
Oxford, Miss – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team returns to the hardwood on Friday night as the Rebels play host to the Eastern Washington Eagles. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the SJB Pavilion and can be streamed on SEC Network+.
Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0 SEC) is coming off a 69-59 win over Alabama State on Monday night. The Rebels were led on the court by senior guard Matthew Murrell with 16 points. A total of four players reached double figures in scoring: Jaylen Murray, Allen Flanigan and TJ Caldwell with each of them adding 15 points apiece to the stats column.
Against Alabama State, Ole Miss shot 36.8 percent from the floor and 24.1 percent from beyond the arc.
In the second half of the game, the Rebels were able to move the ball around more.
“One of the best things we do offensively is we move the ball,” head coach Chris Beard said. “We call it team ball. The other night (against Alabama State) we just had some possessions to where it looked like we were supposed to be. It’s not selfishness per se, I just think it was some individual possessions where we weren’t playing the way we are supposed to play.”
Beard added it will be interesting how the team goes from game one to two to three to four.
“I thought the ball stuck a lot opening night. We took a lot of tough shots when people are wide open. To eventually be the team we all want to be we are going to have to turn down a good shot from time to time to get a great shot from somebody else.”
Head coach Chris Beard
Eastern Washington rolls into Oxford 0-1 on the young season after a 101-66 loss at Utah.
“Eastern Washington is one of the best teams in college basketball,” Beard said. “Last year, they had one of the best seasons in that (Big Sky) conference’s history as they won 16 straight games to start the conference season out 16-0.”
Beard added that the Eagles had one of the best offenses in college basketball.
“Just really efficient with five guys that can dribble, pass and shoot. Put a lot of pressure on the defense. One of the best offensive identity teams in college basketball so their season ended with a lot of adversity projected to go to the NCAA Tournament and ended in the NIT.”
Chris Beard on Eastern Washington
Eastern Washington upset Washington State in Pullman in the opening round of the NIT last year, before falling to the tournament’s number-one seed Oklahoma State.
The Eagles lost 2023 conference MVP Steele Venters to the transfer portal, as the guard moved to Gonzaga after averaging 15.3 point, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. The previous season Venters averaged 16.7 points per contest while shooting a blistering 43.4% from three.Despite the loss of Venters, Eastern Washington returns their fourth-leading scorer in Ethan Price. Now a junior, Price averaged 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, and led the team defensively with 32 blocks. The leading rebounder from a year ago, Casey Jones returns as well after averaging 5.7 boards per game in 2022-23. After redshirting a season ago, freshman LeJuan Watts began this year by leading the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds in their opening game.
Friday’s matchup will be the first-ever meeting on the court between the two programs.
Adam Brown joins The Rebel Walk as the Managing Editor after being on the Ole Miss beat as a Sports Editor for over 11 years. He is a lifelong Oxford resident. Brown graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Prior to The Rebel Walk, Brown was the sports editor of HottyToddy.com covering every Ole Miss sport and local high school sports in the community.