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Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Prepares for SEC Tournament Matchup With Texas A&M

Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Prepares for SEC Tournament Matchup With Texas A&M

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (Release) The Ole Miss men’s basketball team is set to take on Texas A&M in their first game at the 2024 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight, March 14, in the Bridgestone Arena.

Ole Miss Rebels (20-11, 7-11 SEC)
Head Coach: Chris Beard • 1st Season at Ole Miss (20-11) • 257-109 career record (12th Season)

Texas A&M Aggies (18-13, 9-9 SEC)
Head Coach: Buzz Williams • 5th Season at Texas A&M (92-60) • 345-215 career record (17th Season)

The two programs first met on the court in December of 1972, and wouldn’t face each other again until the Aggies joined the SEC for the 2012-13 season. Playing in 15 total games, Texas A&M holds the series lead 10-5, but the Rebels are up four wins to three when playing in Oxford.

• The two teams split the season series after the Rebels got the better of the Aggies in College Station, Texas A&M claimed game two.
• Jaylen Murray led the Rebels in scoring for the ninth time this season with 21 points, sinking a trio of three pointers.
• Manny Obaseki led the Aggies in scoring with 25 points, while Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford each scored 19.

Texas A&M finished their regular-season schedule with a record of 18-13 overall and 9-9 in the SEC, earning the seventh seed in the 2024 SEC Tournament.

Averaging a combined 33.5 points per game, veteran guards Wade Taylor IV (18.0 PPG) and Tyrece Radford (15.5 PPG) lead the team in scoring and rank fourth and 12th, respectively, in the SEC. Leading the conference in rebounding with an average of 9.4, Andersson Garcia is also the SEC’s leader in offensive boards, grabbing 4.4 per outing.

Texas A&M leads all of college basketball in offensive rebounding, averaging 17.3 per game, and ranks third in total rebounding with an average of 42.7. They’ve been one of the best in the country at getting to the charity stripe, ranking fourth in the SEC and 21st in the NCAA in free throw attempts per game at 23.4. The Aggies are one of the better teams in the country in minimizing turnovers, averaging just 9.7 per outing which leads the conference and ranks 19th in the nation.

Currently in his fifth season with Texas A&M, Buzz Williams has won over 60 percent of his games as a collegiate head coach in 17 total seasons. He has had the Aggies on a roll recently, posting back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

• 33-59 overall record (61 total tournaments since 1933)
• First matchup vs. Texas A&M
• Two SEC Tournament titles (1981, 2013)
• First Round: 12-24 (last win: March 8, 2023, vs. South Carolina, 67-61)
• Second Round: 13-23 (last win: March 11, 2021, vs. South Carolina, 76-59)
• Quarterfinals: 1-3 (last win: March 15, 2013, vs. Missouri, 64-62)
• Semifinals: 5-6 (last win: March 16, 2013, vs. Vanderbilt, 61-51)
• Championship Game: 2-3 (last win: March 17, 2013, vs. Florida, 66-63)

Ole Miss ranks seventh in college basketball averaging 5.7 blocks per game. The muscle in the paint for the Rebels has been Jamarion Sharp, who leads the SEC in blocks per game (2.37) and blocks (71), ranking 9th and 12th in each category in the nation, respectively.

With 177 blocks as a team, Ole Miss is on pace to enter the top five for most blocks in a season in program history.

Sharp has been climbing the top-10 list for most blocks in a single season at Ole Miss, now with 71 which ranks third all-time and trails only two seasons from Reginald Buckner.

Blocked Shots in a Single Season
1. 98, Reginald Buckner (36 games, 2013)
2. 95, Reginald Buckner (34 games, 2011)
3. 71, Jamarion Sharp (30 games, 2024)
4. 69, Aaron Jones (33 games, 2014)
69, Reginald Buckner (32 games, 2012)
6. 64, Reginald Buckner (31 games, 2010)
7. 56, David Dean (28 games, 1993)
8. 52, David Dean (22 games, 1994)
9. 49, Rahim Lockhart (35 games, 2001)
49, Sean Murphy (28 games, 1991)

Ole Miss set an overall season attendance record this year with a total of 142,757 fans coming to see the Rebels play in SJB Pavilion and the Tad Pad.

After setting a record for student attendance on January 24th against Arkansas, the Ole Miss faithful showed out on January 30th for the basketball iteration of the Egg Bowl. Taking on in-state rival Mississippi State, the Rebels picked up an 86-82 victory in front of a record crowd of 10,630 fans. The attendance number topped the record by over 1,000 for the largest crowd at a basketball game in Ole Miss history, and is the fifth-largest crowd ever at an on-campus college basketball game in the state of Mississippi. In their next game against Auburn, the Rebel fans came out in droves once again, as they filled the SJB Pavilion beyond capacity with the second-largest crowd at 9,631.

The 2024 early signing class for Ole Miss is already making its mark for the program. Ranked as the second-highest recruit according to 247Sports in school history, forward John Bol was selected to play in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American game on April 2nd. The two rosters, representing the east and west, are made up of 24 of the best high school basketball players the country has to offer.

Joining Bol in the early signing period in November, Eduardo Klafke has enrolled at Ole Miss early and began taking classes in the 2024 spring semester. The guard, who trained with the NBA Academy Latin America, has been able to train with the team recently since beginning school.

With 12 points in Ole Miss’ win over NC State, Matthew Murrell surpassed the 1,000-career point mark, becoming the 42nd student-athlete in program history to do so. Now with 1,430 points in his career with the Rebels, Murrell ranks 16th in school history and sits 46 points behind next on the list, current graduate assistant Murphy Holloway.

15. Murphy Holloway (2008-10, 2011-13): 1,476
16. Matthew Murrell (2020-): 1,430
17. Ansu Sesay (1994-98): 1,428

Picking up their 20th win of the season at Missouri on March 2, Ole Miss recorded their 13th 20-win season since 2000. Chris Beard became the fourth-straight Ole Miss head coach to win 20 games or more in their first season, and the 29th coach in SEC history.

Against Mississippi State on January 30, Jaylen Murray put on a MasterClass in point-guard play. The junior dished out 11 assists to just one turnover, tying him for the 10th-most dimes in a single game in school history.

Murray didn’t just dish out the points, as he scored a team-best 21 as well. He became the first player since Chris Warren in November of 2007 to score 20 or more points with 10 or more assists.

Jaylen Murray has been on fire from the three-point line this season, sinking two or more shots from beyond the arc in 20 games, three or more in 14, and four or more in eight. The Bronx native is averaging 13.9 points on the season, is shooting 38.5 percent from three, and owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.40 while averaging 4.0 assists per game. Murray has hit a three-point shot in 27 of 31 games for Ole Miss this year.

With 22 assists on January 30 against Mississippi State and 20 assists on February 3 against Auburn, Ole Miss posted back-to-back 20-plus assist games against SEC opponents for the first time in 34 seasons. The last time that happened was February 14 and 17 in 1990, when they had 22 assists against Tennessee and 20 against Auburn.

On December 19 against Troy, Matthew Murrell secured 10 steals to set a new program record for Ole Miss, adding 18 points for the first double-double involving steals in school history. His 10 steals also tied the SEC record for most in a game, the most since 1991, and tie him for the 25th-most in a game in NCAA history. Murrell helped Ole Miss collect 16 steals in the game against Troy, setting a new SJB Pavilion record. With an average of 1.61 steals per game on the season, Murrell ranks seventh in the SEC.

The Rebels’ defensive strength doesn’t just come from blocks, as they lead the SEC in steals per game at 8.0 and rank 49th in all of college basketball. The team has secured double-digit steal performances in seven games this season, including a 16-steal game performance against Troy.

The Rebels hosted a block party on January 10 in the SJB Pavilion, setting a school record with 16 team blocks. Breaking the previous best by three, their total against the Gators tied the SEC record for most blocks in a conference game all-time. Ole Miss was led in the paint by forward Jamarion Sharp, who set a program record of his own with a nine-block performance.

With the hiring of Chris Beard last March, the Ole Miss men’s basketball program is prepared to take the next step forward, bringing in one of the most successful coaches of the last decade.

Compiling a record of 257-109 as an NCAA head coach since 2012, Beard holds one of the highest win percentages in the nation, ranking 15th among active head coaches with 10 or more years of experience at 70.2%.

The 2019 AP National Coach of the Year has led three different programs to the NCAA Tournament over the previous eight years, and is undefeated in the opening round at 5-0. His all-time record in the NCAA Tournament is 11-5 (.688).

Ole Miss has shown elite ball control and movement on the offensive side. With a total of 468 assists compared to 332 turnovers, the Rebels’ ratio of 1.41 ranks 53rd in the nation. The team is led in assists by Jaylen Murray (125 assists to 52 turnovers), who ranks fourth in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.40) and eighth in assists per game (4.0).

Shooting 36.9 percent from the three-point line this season, Ole Miss currently ranks 32nd in the country in efficiency beyond the arc and second in the SEC. The Rebels have shot 50 percent or better from deep six times, the most in a single season since they hit that mark or better six times during the 2011-12 campaign.

• Nov. 14 vs. Detroit Mercy: 9-18 (50.0%)
• Nov. 22 at Temple: 10-18 (55.6%)
• Dec. 2 vs. Memphis: 11-22 (50.0%)
• Dec. 16 vs. California: 12-21 (57.1%)
• Dec. 23 vs. Southern Miss: 11-19 (57.9%)
• Feb. 17 vs. Missouri: 11-21 (52.4%)

Senior Matthew Murrell has been a consistent threat from three-point range throughout his four years at Ole Miss. This season, he has entered the top-10 career lists in school history for three-point field goals made and attempts.

Three-Point Field Goals Made
1. 334, Chris Warren (115 games, 2008-11)
2. 278, Aaron Harper (123 games, 2001-04)
3. 267, Marshall Henderson (66 games, 2013-14)
4. 249, Keith Carter (117 games, 1996-99)
5. 215, Matthew Murrell (120 games, 2020-)
6. 214, Joe Harvell (114 games, 1990-93)
7. 207, Breein Tyree (130 games, 2017-20)
8. 181, Stefan Moody (65 games, 2014-16)
9. 178, Devontae Shuler (124 games, 2018-21)
10. 176, Terence Davis (121 games (2016-19)

Three-Point Field Goals Attempted
1. 900, Chris Warren (115 games, 2008-11)
2. 771, Marshall Henderson (66 games, 2013-2014)
3. 720, Aaron Harper (123 games, 2001-04)
4. 686, Keith Carter (117 games, 1996-99)
5. 609, Matthew Murrell (120 games, 2020-)
6. 581, Breein Tyree (130 games, 2017-20)
7. 528, Joe Harvell (114 games, 1990-93)
8. 523, Devontae Shuler (124 games, 2018-21)
9. 519, Terence Davis (121 games, 2016-19)
10. 494, Stefan Moody (65 games, 2015-16)

Transfer forward Jamarion Sharp stands as the tallest student-athlete in NCAA Division I men’s basketball this season at 7’5″, a title he has held for three-straight seasons now, and is even listed as one of the tallest living humans on Wikipedia. After spending his first two college years at John A. Logan College, Sharp played two years at Western Kentucky from 2021 to 2023. In 64 games played, he averaged 7.8 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, and became just the fifth person ever to lead the NCAA in blocks twice. His margin of 3.72 blocks per game during his career is currently the 21st-best average in college basketball history, while his 350 total blocks are 54th all time. Against Vanderbilt on January 13, Sharp passed former Rebel-great Reginald Buckner who had 326 swats during his career.

With career block No. 300, Sharp became the 95th player in NCAA history to hit that mark. He is one of just 14 on that list to hit the 300-block mark in three years or less.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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