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Rebels hope recent 3-point efficiency carries them to an SEC road win this week


Ole Miss will try to get Head Basketball Coach Chris Beard his first SEC road win Wednesday night at LSU.

Slowly, Chris Beard sees his first Ole Miss team developing its personality.

It wasn’t always clear in November, like when the Rebels hit just 3 of 18 behind the arc against Sam Houston State.

It isn’t always clear who will be the leader or how they’ll respond to adversity on the road.

But right now, the Rebels are a hot-shooting team from the perimeter.

After a humbling start to SEC play snapped a 13-game win streak in a 90-64 loss at Tennessee, the Rebels have hit 40% from 3 in their last two games, both at home.

They’ll try to get Beard his first SEC road win Wednesday night at LSU.

Mississippi State is on the road too. The Bulldogs couldn’t create momentum from last week’s upset against No. 5 Tennessee in Starkville and dropped their Saturday Humphrey Coliseum game 84-72 against Alabama.

MSU coach Chris Jans says he doesn’t look at the schedule in groupings of games, but his fans often do, and they see the Bulldogs needing a rare win at Kentucky to avoid a 1-3 start to conference play.

MSU freshman Josh Hubbard was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time Monday after knocking down seven 3-pointers and averaging 19.5 points over the two games. He had 25 against the Vols.

The Rebels swept home games against Florida and Vanderbilt, blowing out the Gators 103-85 then handling the Commodores in a more workmanlike manner, 69-56. The Rebels led Vanderbilt for more than 38 minutes but never by more than 14.

The two games were enough for Ole Miss to jump back into The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 22.

State and Ole Miss play on Jan. 30, a Tuesday night in Oxford, at 7:30.

Against Vanderbilt the Rebels were plus-9 on the glass with a 13-3 edge in second-chance points, a 14-6 edge in points off turnovers.

Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse addressed the game in some of his postgame comments. In others he gave a mournful State of the Commodores address.

“Best team money can buy. That’s where they are, and that’s how they approached it. They got it done. It’s about adding experience. You go into the portal and add juniors and seniors. We don’t add juniors and seniors at Vanderbilt. They just don’t transfer to us,” he said.

In another era Stackhouse might have been accusing the Rebels of wrongdoing, but in the age of the transfer portal and NIL he simply praised Beard’s handling of the way things are.

There’s a whole lot of basketball to be played, and the Rebels will be challenged on the road this week, particularly at Auburn on Saturday, but right now he’s energized a team that won just 12 games last year, just three in the SEC.

He’s got Ole Miss fans thinking NCAA Tournament, giddy with excitement every time a launched 3 finds the bottom of the sack.

Ole Miss went into the Vanderbilt game shooting 40.1% from 3, best in the SEC and sixth in America.

The Rebels proceeded to knock down 10 of 25 attempts, 6 of 12 from Matthew Murrell and another 3 of 6 from transfer guard Jaylen Murray.

The Rebels last week showed themselves to be efficient, not a team that runs around jacking up 3s at the first somewhat decent look.

“A couple of times earlier in the season when we had some off nights people were asking questions about our shooters. We have green-light shooters, then we’ve got that next tier of 3-point shooter that we have a lot of confidence in. Every guy’s got a little bit different role and shot selection. The 3-point shot’s a weapon for us. We’ve got good shooters that put in a lot of time,” Beard said in his Vanderbilt postgame.

Beard says a quality team will have four or five guys who are 40% 3-point shooters.

Ole Miss’ last March Madness team, Kermit Davis’ first squad in 2019, had one. Devontae Shuler shot 40.2% that year.

Right now the Rebels have Murray at 44.4, Murrell at 40.6 and Jaemyn Brakefield at 39.1.

For Mississippi State coach Chris Beard, last week was less about the 3 and more about the free.

The Bulldogs were just 15 for 27 from the free throw line against Alabama. State was down 76-74 with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left and went 0 for 6 from the line the rest of the way.

It wasn’t just shooting off fouls it was committing them.

Cameron Matthews, a physical, high-motor guy had 12 points and was 5-for-6 from the floor. Had he played more than 22 minutes the outcome might have been different, but Matthews spent much of the night on the bench in foul trouble.

“He seems to be doing that quite often this year. I’ve talked to him about it a lot and how valuable he is for our team. It’s not that he’s not trying to play right and do well and help us win. His aggression sometimes needs to be a little more disciplined and not put himself in harm’s way and try to make a play defensively – or even offensively for that matter – because we’re better when he’s on the floor,” Jans said.


Schedule to Watch:

Ole Miss at LSU
Wednesday at 6 p.m.
SEC Network

MSU at Kentucky
Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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