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Scouting the Opposition: Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Returns Home to Face the Arkansas Razorbacks

Scouting the Opposition: Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Returns Home to Face the Arkansas Razorbacks

OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss Rebels (15-3, 2-3 SEC) return home after a two-game road trip to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (10-8, 1-4 SEC). We’ve got all the info here that you’ll need to scout the opposition. 

Ole Miss is coming off its second straight loss after losing on the road to the Auburn Tigers Saturday night, 82-59. Winning on the road is always difficult in the SEC, and winning at Auburn was especially going to be a difficult task for Chris Beard’s squad. Ole Miss is now returning to the SJB Pavilion after coming off the Rebels’ first 0-2 week of the season which includes the loss to Auburn and a loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. That was always going to be a difficult stretch for the Rebels; however, they now welcome a slumping Razorback team to Oxford tonight.

The Arkansas Razorbacks enter this game fresh off a home defeat to South Carolina, 77-64. Arkansas enters with a 1-4 record in SEC, and is one of the SEC’s biggest disappointments thus far. The Razorbacks were predicted to finish third in the SEC in the media preseason poll; however, the Razorbacks are currently third-to-last in the SEC after five conference games. 

This will be a crucial and winnable game for the Rebels, who look to return to .500 in conference play. With another week of SEC action, I want to welcome you to this week’s episode of “Scouting the Opposition,” the Arkansas edition. 

Who are the Arkansas Razorbacks?

Head coach Eric Musselman’s Arkansas Razorback squad came into the 2023-24 season ranked in the top 15 in the country. Expectations were high for this squad, but Arkansas has not lived up to those so far. The Razorbacks played a very difficult non-conference schedule that included teams such as Memphis, North Carolina, Duke, and Oklahoma in November and December. Arkansas emerged victorious in only one of those contests, which was a home victory over the Duke Blue Devils. This difficult stretch of non-conference games also included a very bad Q3 home loss to UNC Greensboro. 

The start of the SEC play did not get any better for Coach Musselman’s squad either. In their first conference game of the season, the Razorbacks were dealt their worst defeat in program history as they lost to the Auburn Tigers, 83-51. They followed that loss with defeats on the road at Georgia and Florida to start SEC play 0-3. Arkansas is currently ranked 118 in the NET rankings and owns a losing record in both Q1 and Q2 this season. The Razorbacks’ biggest wins this season were both home victories over Duke and Texas A&M. Below is a breakdown of their entire quad wins and losses:

Q1: 1-4

Q2: 1-3

Q3: 4-1

Q4: 4-0

Ole Miss and Arkansas share three common opponents this season: Memphis, Auburn, and Florida. Ole Miss went 2-1 against these three teams, while Arkansas is 0-3. As mentioned earlier, the Razorbacks lost big to Auburn at home and lost by 22 to Florida in Gainesville.

The Rebels are catching the Razorbacks at a good time as Arkansas has historically struggled at the start of SEC play. In the last three seasons, the Hogs have started SEC play with the records of 1-5, 0-3, 2-4 respectively. This is the lone meeting between these squads, so playing on Wednesday could not come at a better time for Chris Beard’s team.

Scouting the Razorbacks:

The theme for Coach Musselman’s Razorback squad this year is “Fit.” Arkansas brought in six different transfers this offseason, and all six of those transfers are in Musselman’s every-day rotation. Typically, a coach figures out his best starting five during the non-conference games; however, Musselman is still figuring out his best five guys. To date, the Razorbacks have started games with nine different lineup combinations and played as many as 14 different players against Florida. This is a team that is still figuring out who it is and how they can play together. 

This year’s Arkansas team is led by a star guard in Tramon Mark. Mark, a junior guard, is a transfer from the Houston Cougars and is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18 points per game, four rebounds, and two assists. The 6-foot-5 guard typically plays the 3 spot on the floor and is the ultimate go-get-a-bucket guy for the Razorbacks. He is shooting an astounding 52% from the field for the season. With this field goal percentage he is good enough for top 5 in the SEC as well as being a top 5 scorer in the SEC. And not even just within the conference; Mark’s field goal percentage puts him in the 96th percentile of players in the entire NCAA. 

Tramon Mark’s main source of offense comes from his ability to drive to the rim and score within the paint. He is averaging about 8.4 shots in the paint per game, and is shooting a staggering 57%. On top of scoring in the paint, Mark is a master at getting to the free throw line. He is currently averaging six attempts from the strike per game which puts him in the 97th percentile among all players in the entire NCAA.

In addition to his excellent inside game, Mark is an efficient three-point shooter. He does not take many 3s during the game; however, he does shoot 40% from the field. He is very close to being a 50, 40, 90 type player, except his free throw percentages are a touch off from 90. He shoots at a 80% clip from the line.

The style of offensive Arkansas likes to play is very similar to Tramon Mark’s own style. Musselman’s team loves to drive the basketball and score in the paint. However, unlike Mark, the team does not do this efficiently. Arkansas ranks 13th in the SEC in offensive net rating, and that is mainly due to poor shooting. Arkansas is one of the worst shooting teams in the entire SEC. As a team, the Hogs are shooting 37% from the field and 32% from three. This poor shooting percentage is due to the other guards in the Razorbacks rotation: Davonte Davis, El Ellis, Khalif Battle, and Jeremiah Davenport. 

Davonte Davis, a senior guard, came into this season ranked Preseason All-SEC 2nd Team. He was looking to build upon his great junior campaign and really cement himself as one of the top guards in the SEC. However, things have not worked out that way for Davis. He is currently averaging 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game, making him the 5th-highest scorer on the team.

Davis has had a rough season shooting the basketball, as well. He only shoots 35% from the field and 24% from three. Additionally, Davis does not get to the free throw line all that well either. Barring his shooting struggles this season, Davis does bring senior leadership to this team as he is the only senior on the team who has played all four of his college years in Fayetteville.

The third guard that needs to be highlighted is Khalif Battle. Battle, a fifth year senior transfer from Temple, leads one of the best bench scoring units in the entire NCAA. The Razorbacks are the ninth-best bench scoring team in the entire NCAA and Battle leads them by averaging 12 points per game.

Like Mark, Battle is a dynamic guard who loves to get to the rim. He also loves to score in the paint and shoot free throws. He and Mark lead an Arkansas team who is fourth-best in the entire NCAA at getting to the free throw line. As a team, the Razorbacks average 27 free throw attempts per game which is outstanding.

Free throw shooting is Arkansas’ bread and butter, and it is a huge statistical category they must dominate in order to win. In their victory over Texas A&M, the Razorbacks shot 40 free throws which accounted for more than half their points. Against South Carolina, they were limited to only 16 attempts and lost the game pretty easily.

Battle does not bring just an ability to get to the line, he also brings three-point shooting. Now the Razorbacks as a whole are not a good three-point shooting team. They are 11th-worst in the conference, and they only average 19 threes per game which is 13th in the league. Three-pointing shooting will not be something that scares the Rebels on Wednesday. Barring Arkansas’ poor shooting percentages as a team, Battle actually shoots 40% from behind the arc and has averaged four threes per game. 

The final two guards to watch out for are transfers El Ellis from Louisville and Jeremiah Davenport from Cincinnati. Ellis, who has started the past two games for Musselman’s squad, and Davenport, who typically comes off the bench, contribute to one of the fastest teams in the SEC.

The Razorbacks are the fourth-fastest team in the SEC when it comes to pace, as they love to get out and run in any transition moment. However, because they love to run in transition, they are very prone to turnovers. The Razorbacks have one of the worst assist to turnover ratios in the entire league. They also have one of the worst assist percentages in the conference as well. This is a team who does not pride itself on ball movement. Rather, they play a lot of iso basketball with all of their drives to the rim.

After going over the offense, it’s now time to look at the Razorbacks’ second-best player, Trevon Brazile.  A forward, Brazile came into the season on the Preseason All-SEC First Team and is still one of the best players in the SEC. While only 6-foot-9, Brazile is the tallest player on this team.

While the Razorbacks are not a very tall team, they are lanky with a lot of tall guards. Due to the lankiness of the team, the Razorbacks are actually one of the premier shot-blocking teams in the NCAA. They actually rank above Ole Miss in blocked shots per game with 6.5. Brazile headlines the third-best team in the NCAA in the blocked shot category by being one of three players on the Arkansas team who are top 12 in the SEC in total blocks. 

Brazile does not only block shots for the Razorbacks, he is also one of the top rebounders in the SEC. He also ranks in the top 12 in the league in total rebounds per game. Outside of the hot spot that is Trevon Brazile, Arkansas really does struggle on defense. The Razorbacks are currently ranked 13th in defensive net ratings in the SEC. With 13s on both offense and defense, Arkansas is currently last in total net ratings in the conference. 

Since the start of SEC play at the beginning of January, Arkansas has given up the most points scored in the conference. Opposing teams average 78 points per game against the Razorbacks.

In SEC play alone, teams have scored 77, 77, 90, 76, and 83. This is due to three main factors. The first factor is protecting the paint. As much as Arkansas loves to score in the paint, the Hogs give up as many, if not more, points in their own painted area. Arkansas ranks dead last in the SEC in opposing points scored in the paint as well as opposing team’s percentage of points scored in the paint. This is a combination of poor guard play and size. Arkansas’ guards typically get beat off the dribble easily which allows teams to drive into the paint and score. With the Razorbacks’ tallest player being the aforementioned Brazile at 6-foot-9, Arkansas does not have an overwhelmingly tall force in the paint. 

The second factor of poor defense is Arkansas’ bench unit. The Razorbacks have one of the worst defensive bench units in the country. They currently rank 347th in the country in bench defense. While the starting five is not out on the court, this could be a great time for Ole Miss’ bench unit to start scoring as that is one of their weaknesses. 

The final factor is their lack of ability to get the opponent to turn the ball over. Arkansas, as mentioned, loves to get out and run in transition. The only problem is that opposing teams rarely turn the ball over. The Razorbacks currently rank 312th in the NCAA in steals at 5.3 per game. In total turnovers per game, they rank 10th in the SEC. Not just on the defensive end, it is also tough for the Razorbacks to get the ball back on offense after a shot. Arkansas is the worst offensive rebounding team in the SEC, averaging just 8.8 offensive boards per game. These types of stats are not ones the preseason-ranked Razorbacks would have thought their team would show at this point in the season

What Ole Miss Needs to Do?

As a reminder, if the Razorbacks get to the line as they please and shoot the three with some efficiency, this could be a closer game than many think. While Ole Miss does lead Arkansas in many statistical categories, we can’t forget that this Razorbacks team was predicted preseason top three in the SEC and did beat Duke, so nothing can be overlooked.

Here is what the Rebels need to do in order to avoid an upset Wednesday Night:

  1. Ole Miss needs to play great on ball defense on Wednesday night. If Ole Miss’ guards can close up the driving lanes for the Razorbacks, they will have some real trouble on offense. When Arkansas’ guards do not get their driving lanes to the basket, the team becomes very stagnant in their half court set. They will pass the ball around the perimeter until they can find an open lane; if not, they will wait until the end of the shot clock and have to force up a very difficult shot. The amount of times the Razorbacks took the shot clock to under 5 seconds the last few games is wild to watch.
  2. Be aggressive on offense. Arkansas’ guards have a real problem with on-ball defense. They are not great one-on-one defenders, and they let a lot of guards run past them. I would love to see Jaylen Murray, Matthew Murrell, and Allen Flanigan attack the Razorback guards all night and drive to the basket. This will cause the defense to collapse, and the Rebels can get a wide open three pointer. OR the defense won’t collapse and one of Murrell or Murray or Flanigan will have an easy driving lane to the rim.
  3. Big Game from the Bench. I would also love to see TJ Caldwell, Brandon Murray, or Rashaud Marshall have a big game on Wednesday. Arkansas has one of the worst bench defensive units in the NCAA, and it would be great to see Ole Miss take full advantage. It’s no secret the Rebels’ bench unit has not had a lot of success this year in terms of scoring, but I think this could be the game that bucks that trend for Chris Beard’s bench unit. 

Game Info

You can catch the Ole Miss Rebels Wednesday Night as they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SJB Pavilion at 8 pm CST. The game will be aired on ESPNU.

Coleman Young

Coleman Young

Coleman Young is a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss. Born and raised in Baltimore, Coleman has always been an avid basketball fan, growing up watching the Maryland Terrapins. His love for college hoops grew even more when he attended Ole Miss in 2017. Coleman is a huge fan of all Ole Miss sports as well as the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles. He was previously an Ole Miss College Hoops contributor at

About The Author

Coleman Young

Coleman Young is a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss. Born and raised in Baltimore, Coleman has always been an avid basketball fan, growing up watching the Maryland Terrapins. His love for college hoops grew even more when he attended Ole Miss in 2017. Coleman is a huge fan of all Ole Miss sports as well as the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles. He was previously an Ole Miss College Hoops contributor at

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