Mississippi Rebels gets ready to face Louisiana Tech in 9 PM NIT First Round matchup

#1 SEED OLE MISS (16-11, 10-8 SEC)
vs. #4 SEED LOUISIANA TECH (21-7, 12-4 C-USA)

Friday, March 19 • 8 p.m. • Frisco, Texas
Comerica Center

Watch • Live Stats •Listen

Ole Miss Game Notes (PDF) • Louisiana Tech Notes (PDF) • SEC Game Notes (PDF)

GAME 28 – NIT
Date: March 19, 2021
Time: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Frisco, Texas
Arena: Comerica Center (6,000)
Television:ESPN2
    Wes Durham, play-by-play
    Chris Spatola, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Sports Network
    David Kellum, play-by-play
    Marc Dukes, analyst
Live Video: ESPN.com/ESPN app
Series: Ole Miss leads 8-5
Last Meeting: Dec. 15, 2015
    Ole Miss won 99-80
    Oxford, Miss.

TIPOFF TIDBITS
– Ole Miss is making its 22nd postseason appearance in school history, including the 13th in the NIT.
– The Rebels are playing in the NIT for the first time since 2017 when they advanced to the quarterfinals.
– Ole Miss has made two NIT Final Four appearances throughout its history.
– The Rebels have won eight of their past 11 games.
– Ole Miss was one of two teams (Louisville) from the big six conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) left out of the NCAA Tournament to be at least two games over .500 in conference play.
– The Rebels placed sixth in the conference with a 10-8 record, finishing above the media’s preseason projection (ninth) for the eighth time over the past 10 seasons.
– Ole Miss is 12-0 when keeping opponents under 40 percent this season.
– The Rebels are 53rd in the NET after being as far back as 85th on January 18.
– Ole Miss led the SEC in scoring defense (65.4), rebounding defense (31.7), defensive rebounding percentage (.721) and offensive rebounding percentage (.341) during conference play.
– The Rebels are making their second postseason appearance in three seasons under Kermit Davis (2018-19: NCAA Tournament).
– Ole Miss went 3-0 against ranked teams this season, one of nine teams in the country to be undefeated against top-25 opponents; the Rebels joined No. 1 Gonzaga (4-0) and No. 13 Florida State (3-0) having at least three wins without a loss to ranked opponents.
– Ole Miss has held 12 opponents to less than 60 points, including seven SEC foes and all three ranked teams.
– The Rebels limited four SEC opponents to 50 points or less for the first time since 1948.
– Romello White is on pace to break the school record for field goal percentage.
– Jarkel Joiner averaged 22.0 ppg in the SEC Tournament, including a 26-point night (season high) against LSU.
– Kermit Davis is making his third appearance in the NIT; Davis guided Middle Tennessee to seven postseason appearances over 16 seasons (3 – NCAA Tournament, 2 – NIT, 2 – CIT).

SEASON RESUME
On Jan. 18, the Rebels found themselves 6-6 (3-4 SEC) and ranked 85th in the NET. However, Ole Miss went on the road and dominated rival MSU 64-46 before picking up another win over Texas A&M. After back-to-back road losses sent them back to .500 (8-8, 3-6 SEC), the Rebels reeled off four straight victories. With three of those wins coming against ranked teams, and winning eight of the past 11 games, Ole Miss moved up to No. 53 in the NET and into the conversation as a bubble team. The Rebels had a strong case to make the NCAA Tournament.
– One of seven teams in the nation to be undefeated against top-25 teams
– One of only three teams to have at least three wins against ranked teams without a loss: No. 1 Gonzaga (4-0), Ole Miss (3-0), No. 13 Florida State (3-0)
– Seven Quad 1-2 wins
– Two wins over top-10 teams (Tennessee, Missouri)
– Have held four SEC teams to 50 points or less (first time since 1948)
– Led the SEC in scoring defense (65.4), rebounding defense (31.7), defensive rebounding percentage (.721) and offensive rebounding percentage (.341) during conference play
– Undefeated (12-0) when limiting opponents under 40 percent from the field

NIT HISTORY
Ole Miss is no stranger to the NIT, making its 13th appearance throughout program history. The Rebels are 15-12 all-time, advancing to the NIT Final Four twice. Both of the trips to Madison Square Garden were under Andy Kennedy (2008, 2010). The last time the Rebels played in the NIT (2017), they won road games at Monmouth and Syracuse before falling to Georgia Tech at home in the quarterfinals. As one of the first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, Ole Miss earned its first No. 1 seed in the NIT.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
– Louisiana Tech enters Friday’s matchup with a 21-7 record, winning 12 of its final 14 regular season games before falling in the Conference USA Tournament semifinals.
– The Bulldogs led C-USA in field goal percentage defense (44.6) and three-point field goal percentage defense (29.3) with both marks cracking the top 25 nationally.
– Isaiah Crawford, third team all-conference, leads Louisiana Tech in scoring at 12.1 ppg.
– Two other Bulldogs average double figures in Kalob Ledoux (11.3 ppg) and C-USA Freshman of the Year Kenneth Lofton Jr. (11.0 ppg); Lofton Jr. also brings down a team-high 7.3 rpg.
– Eric Konkol, who was named C-USA Coach of the Year and NABC District 11 Coach of the Year, is in his sixth season as Louisiana Tech’s head coach.

SERIES HISTORY
The Rebels lead the all-time series 8-5. The two teams first met in 1911, just the third season of Ole Miss Basketball. Louisiana Tech won the first four matchups, while Ole Miss has taken eight of the last nine. Friday’s contest will be the first postseason game between the two programs. It’s been six years since the last battle on the hardwood, a 99-80 victory in Oxford.

LAST TIME WE MET
Stefan Moody led four Rebels in double figures with 29 points as Ole Miss rolled past Louisiana Tech 99-80 to give Andy Kennedy, the school’s all-time winningest coach, his 200th career victory at Ole Miss (Dec. 15, 2015). The game was the second-to-last ever to be played in the Rebels’ old home, Tad Smith Coliseum. Rasheed Brooks added 20 points for the Rebels, hitting 8 of 10 from the field, including four three-pointers. Marcanvis Hymon and Tomasz Gielo added 14 and 13 points, respectively. Ole Miss shot 37 of 65 (57 percent) from the field, including 12 of 26 (46 percent) from three-point range, and led by as many as 27 points. Louisiana Tech never got closer than 11 points in the second half.

ON THIS DATE: TWO NIT WINS
March 19, 2010: Ole Miss guard Terrico White scored 21 points, including 3 of 4 from three-point range, as the Rebels defeated Memphis 90-81 in the second round of the NIT. Ole Miss advanced to the quarterfinal round and went on to defeat Texas Tech to advance to the final four at Madison Square Garden.
March 19, 2008: Rodney Jones, who played only 20 minutes in the regular season, turned in 22 minutes of brilliant defense against Alex Harris, the Co-Player of the Year in the Big West Conference, to help the Rebels to an 83-68 win over UC Santa Barbara in the opening round of the NIT. Harris finished with 20 points, but managed only 2 of 11 from the field against Jones and scored most of those points after the Rebels had built a double-digit lead in the final 15 minutes of play. Dwayne Curtis finished with 17 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, while Kenny Williams added 13 points and nine rebounds. Chris Warren had 16 points, all in the second half, and David Huertas added 15 for the Rebels, who dominated the boards by a 44-27 margin.

UNDERRATED REBELS
For the eighth time in the past 10 seasons, Ole Miss finished higher than the media’s projections. That includes the 2018-19 campaign when Ole Miss was predicted to finish last in the SEC, only to tie for sixth and return to the NCAA Tournament under first year head coach and 2019 SEC Coach of the Year Kermit Davis. In the SEC’s annual preseason poll, a panel consisting of SEC and national media members picked the Rebels to finish ninth in the conference standings this season. With a 10-8 record in SEC play, Ole Miss exceeded those expectations and placed sixth.

DYNAMIC DUO IN THE MUSIC CITY
Two Rebels fine-tuned their games and brought their best in the Music City for last week’s SEC Tournament. Jarkel Joiner led Ole Miss in both games, scoring 18 points in the win over South Carolina before recording a season-high 26 points against LSU. Joiner made five three-pointers against the Tigers, matching his career high and making that many for the first time since Dec. 20, 2017 (vs. Delaware while at CSU Bakersfield). He played all 40 minutes of the back-and-forth battle. While Joiner was controlling the backcourt, Romello White was making his presence felt down in the post. The graduate transfer shot 75.0 percent (15 of 20) from the field and went a perfect 7 for 7 at the charity stripe. White averaged 18.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg during the pair of tournament contests, while adding three blocks in each as well. In the victory over the Gamecocks, White scored 17 points with seven rebounds. He played even better against LSU, going 7 of 8 from the floor and 6 of 6 from the line for 20 points along with a season-high 13 rebounds. It was White’s fourth double-double and fourth 20-point game of the season.

SEC LEADERS
– The Rebels led the SEC in scoring defense (65.4), rebounding defense (31.7), defensive rebounding percentage (.721) and offensive rebounding percentage (.341) during conference play.
– Ole Miss ranked second in the SEC in rebounding margin (+3.4) during conference games.
– Jarkel Joiner ranks fourth in the conference in free throw percentage (84.4).
– Devontae Shuler is the SEC’s active leader in career steals (185) and career assists (329), while second in points (1,319).

LOCKDOWN DEFENSE
Head coach Kermit Davis loves a team that plays good defense with toughness. The Rebels have put up some historical defensive numbers this season. Ole Miss had the best scoring defense (65.4) and rebounding defense (31.7) in SEC play.
– Holds a 12-0 record when limiting opponents to under 40 percent from the floor
– Limited four SEC opponents to 50 points or less, the most in a season since 1948
– Six games surrendering 50 points or less (first time since 2003-04 season)
– Has kept 12 opponents under 60 points, including seven SEC foes and all three ranked teams
– With wins over Mississippi State (64-46) and Texas A&M (61-50), held SEC opponents to 50 points or less in back-to-back games for the first time since 1980
– Kept first four opponents under 60 points, accomplishing the feat for the first time since the 1944-45 season (76 years)
– Fewest points allowed (316) over the first six games of the season since the 1980-81 campaign (307)

DEVONTAE SHULER: FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC, ALL-DISTRICT
The tradition of All-SEC guards at Ole Miss continues, and Devontae Shuler can now add his name to that prestigious list. The senior was named First Team All-SEC by the conference coaches last week before collecting NABC and USBWA All-District honors this week. Shuler earned the accolades for the first time in his career, becoming Ole Miss’ third First Team All-SEC guard in three years under Kermit Davis. The Irmo, South Carolina, native follows in the footsteps of former teammate Breein Tyree, who collected all three honors as a junior (2019) and as a senior (2020). Adding in second teamers, the Rebels have produced 16 All-SEC guards over the past 15 seasons. Here are some of the highlights from Shuler’s senior season:
– Has had his best year as a Rebel, leading the team in scoring (15.3 ppg) and assists (3.3 apg).
– His 1.3 assist/turnover ratio is seventh in the conference, while his 2.0 threes made per game, 3.3 apg and 1.5 spg are eighth.
– Eight 20-point games, including a 26-point night at Auburn (Feb. 6) in which he drilled a game-winning jumper at the buzzer in overtime. After that game, he collected SEC Player of the Week accolades for the first time in his career.
– Returned to his home state of South Carolina and scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Rebels to a victory over the Gamecocks (Feb. 13).
– In the first win over Auburn (Jan. 6), his career-high 10 assists were the most by a Rebel since Jarvis Summers dished out 10 in the NCAA Tournament win over BYU (March 17, 2015).

HOMETOWN REB
No matter what his role is, starting in the backcourt or providing a spark off the bench, Jarkel Joiner makes an impact for his hometown team. In his first season in an Ole Miss uniform, the Oxford, Mississippi native bumped his scoring average to 11.7 ppg during conference games, second only to fellow guard Devontae Shuler (15.6 ppg). He leads the team in free throw shooting, making 84.4 percent of his attempts to rank fourth in the SEC. In the win over No. 24 Missouri (Feb. 23), Joiner went 8 for 8 at the free throw line which included a perfect 6 for 6 in the final minute to ice the game. Joiner came off the bench in the first four SEC contests before starting against Georgia (Jan. 16), leading to his best game as a Rebel. Knocking down 9 of 17 from the floor, Joiner scored a season-high 22 points. He added a game-high 21 points in a win over Texas A&M (Jan. 23), his second 20-point night over a three-game stretch. Joiner led the Rebels to another top-10 victory with a team-high 21 points versus No. 10 Missouri (Feb. 10). In his first SEC Tournament, Joiner averaged 22.0 ppg over the two contests. That included a season-high 26-point night against LSU (March 12), tying his career high with five three-pointers.  

MELLO’S WORLD
Graduate transfer Romello White has brought his toughness and physicality to Oxford, dominating the post. The Arizona State transfer is averaging 11.6 ppg and 6.1 rpg. White has been a force down low, making 120 of his 180 attempts for a 66.7 percent clip. That field goal percentage is on pace to break Marcus Hicks’ school record (63.8 percent) set in 1999 (minimum 150 attempts). With 36 blocks over 27 games, White leads Ole Miss in blocks and ranks ninth in the SEC. Earning his first start as a Rebel, he made seven of his eight shot attempts on his way to a game-high 20 points versus UNCW (Dec. 12). It was the fourth 20-point game of White’s collegiate career and the first since February 4, 2018 (at Washington State) when he was a freshman at Arizona State. In his first SEC Game, at Alabama (Dec. 29), White led Ole Miss with team highs in points (20) and rebounds (11). He saved his best game for the other SEC team from Alabama, exploding for a career-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the overtime victory at Auburn (Feb. 6). His 14 made field goals are the most by an SEC player this season. He became the first Rebel to record a double-double with at least 30 points since Justin Reed accomplished the feat in 2004. In last week’s SEC Tournament quarterfinals against LSU (March 12), White tallied 20 points and a season-high 13 boards. The performance marked the 20th double-double of White’s career, his fourth in an Ole Miss uniform.

LUIS GOT GAME
After going one full year without playing (season-ending foot injury on November 27, 2019), Luis Rodriguez has returned to become a leader for the Rebels. The Los Angeles, California, native paces the team in rebounds (6.1 per game) and steals (1.7 per game) to go along with 7.5 ppg. He is sixth in the SEC in steals with the help of 16 multi-steal games. In the win over UNCW (Dec. 12), Rodriguez produced his first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds at Dayton (Dec. 19), the most by a Rebel since Sebastian Saiz pulled down 15 in the NIT quarterfinals versus Georgia Tech (March 21, 2017). In the win over No. 10 Missouri (Feb. 10), Rodriguez scored a career-high 15 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds.

WINS OVER TOP-10 TEAMS
Ole Miss has 20 victories over top-10 teams throughout its history with two of them coming this season. Earning wins over No. 10 Tennessee (Feb. 2) and No. 10 Missouri (Feb. 10), the Rebels now have three top-10 victories in three seasons under Kermit Davis. Only Rod Barnes (5) and Bob Weltlich (4) have more top-10 wins as Ole Miss head coach.

RISING UP THE CAREER CHARTS
Playing in 124 games as a Rebel, senior guard Devontae Shuler continues to climb his way up the program record books. He is ranked top 10 all-time in four categories, while also passing some Ole Miss greats on the scoring list. On his Senior Night against Vanderbilt, Shuler passed Marshall Henderson and Stefan Moody. He knocked down a three-pointer last week against South Carolina to pass former teammate Terence Davis for eighth in threes made.

Career RecordShulerRankNext UpRecord Holder
Steals1853rd2nd – Murphy Holloway (194)Jason Smith (211)
3FG Attempted5227th6th – Joe Harvell (528)Chris Warren (900)
3FG Made1788th7th – Stefan Moody (181)Chris Warren (334)
Assists32910th9th – Bob Mahoney (362)Sean Tuohy (830)
Points1,31920th19th – Tim Jumper (1,375) John Stroud (2,328)

30-POINT REBELS
Devontae Shuler and Romello White have put together 30-point games this season. Shuler got his career-high 31 points in a homecoming victory at South Carolina (Feb. 13), while White recorded a career-high 30 points in an overtime win at Auburn one week earlier (Feb. 6). The duo joined a select group of Rebels who have produced 30-point games over the past decade: Deandre Burnett, Terence Davis, Zach Graham, Marshall Henderson, Stefan Moody, Dundrecous Nelson, Breein Tyree and Chris Warren.

WINNING BIG
When the Rebels win, they usually win big.
– Eleven of the team’s 16 victories this season have been by double digits, including seven by at least 17 points.
– Dating back to last season, 23 of the 31 wins have been double-digit victories.

JOINER NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
Ole Miss guard Jarkel Joiner landed on the SEC Men’s Basketball Community Service Team for his efforts in his hometown. As a native of Oxford, it makes sense that Joiner wants to make an impact on the community. The junior is involved in several community service projects in his hometown. Joiner regularly reads to students across his home state of Mississippi as a part of our Reading with the Rebels Program. He has been able to share stories selected by teachers to promote reading and good behavior in elementary schools. Joiner is passionate about this activity and encourages students to read frequently and to others. He joined this program as a part of the Stronger Together MS initiative that focuses on promoting reading by students in Pre-K through 3rd grades. Joiner also led efforts for Adopt A Basket, feeding local families during the holiday season. He helped spearhead the project, giving back to the local community to ensure those in need have food during this time. Finally, since student-athletes have not been allowed into local schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joiner and his teammates have found opportunities to engage with elementary students virtually to encourage hard work in the classroom.

YEAR THREE OF THE DAVIS ERA
Kermit Davis is in his third season at the helm of Ole Miss Basketball. A nine-time conference coach of the year, Davis is 38th among active Division I head coaches with 454 career wins over 23 seasons, including stints at MT, Idaho and Texas A&M. In 26 seasons as a college basketball head coach, he has amassed 520 wins. Davis wasted no time making an impact in Oxford. With the Rebels coming off a last-place finish in 2017-18, the media picked Ole Miss to land at the bottom of the SEC standings again in 2018-19. However, the Rebels posted a 20-13 record to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years. With a return to March Madness for the sixth time in his career, Davis joined a list of 63 coaches in college basketball history to take three different schools to the NCAA Tournament. Davis was named SEC Coach of the Year by his peers and the Associated Press, earning conference coach of the year accolades for the ninth time in his career. He became just the third active coach (Dana Altman, Bob Huggins) to be named coach of the year in four different conferences.

NEXT ON THE HARDWOOD
With the victory over Louisiana Tech, the Rebels would advance to the quarterfinals to face No. 3 seed Western Kentucky, who knocked off No. 2 seed Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night (March 17). That matchup is set for Thursday, March 25 at Comerica Center with a tipoff time to be determined.

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