Rebels and Redbirds Set for Saturday Matchup at The Pavilion

Ole Miss Hosts Illinois State at 2:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network

Rebels and Redbirds Set for Saturday Matchup at The Pavilion December 15, 2017

Matchup: Illinois State (4-6) vs. Ole Miss (5-4)
Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017
Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Arena: The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,500)
Television: SEC Network
Richard Cross, play-by-play
Sean Harrington, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss IMG Sports Network (Sirius-137; XM-190)
David Kellum, play-by-play
Keith Carter, analyst
Series: Illinois State leads 3-0
Last Meeting: March 14, 2012
Illinois State won 96-93 (OT)
Oxford, Miss.

Oxford community game – $5 general admission ticket

– Prior to the start of Saturday’s game, Ole Miss and Illinois State will hold a moment of silence for Torrey Ward; Ward, a former Ole Miss and Illinois State assistant coach, was tragically killed in a plane crash April 7, 2015.
– The Rebels are in the midst of playing four games over a span of nine days.
– Ole Miss is coming off an 82-69 victory over Sam Houston State in Oxford (Dec. 13).
– The Rebels have used six different starting lineups in nine games, one of nine different teams nationally to have done that.
– Ole Miss will play two of its next three games against Missouri Valley Conference opponents; the Rebels are 10-9 all-time versus Missouri Valley members.
– Guards are accounting for 74.1 percent of the Rebels’ scoring.
– The Rebels rank third in the SEC in assists per game (16.6) and assist/turnover ratio (1.4), ranking 31st and 50th nationally, respectively.
– The Ole Miss bench is averaging 29.9 points per game, scoring at least 40 points in four of the nine contests.
– Senior Deandre Burnett ranks third in the SEC and 30th nationally with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio; he’s recorded 31 assists and only eight turnovers (3.9 ratio) over the past five games.
– With 86 career blocks, senior Marcanvis Hymon ranks 11th on the school’s all-time list and is three away from jumping into the top 10.
– After averaging 6.6 ppg in the first seven games off the bench, junior college transfer Bruce Stevens is averaging 11.5 ppg over the last two contests (started both games); Stevens scored a career-high 13 points in the win over Sam Houston State Wednesday night.
– Terence Davis has scored double digits in 22 of the last 24 games dating back to last season.
– Ole Miss is in the 12th season of the Andy Kennedy era; Kennedy, the Dean of the SEC, is the winningest coach in school history with 239 victories.
– Only nine games into this season, Kennedy already has the fifth-most wins in SEC history by a coach in his first 12 years in the league at one school.

Before the Rebels and Redbirds take the court Saturday, they will spend a moment remembering a man who made a great impact on both programs. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Torrey Ward played at UAB from 1996-2000 under Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, who was an assistant coach there at the time. After his playing career, Ward joined Kennedy’s staff and spent five seasons at Ole Miss (2007-11). He then ventured to Illinois State, serving as an assistant coach for Dan Muller for two seasons before being promoted to associate head coach for the 2014-15 campaign. Following that season, Ward was tragically killed in a plane crash (April 7, 2015) on his way back from the Final Four in Indianapolis. A coach who was remembered as a positive light to his players and fellow staff members, Ward was only 36 years old at the time of his passing.

Twitter also played in a role in scheduling Saturday’s matchup. After Illinois State went 28-7, winning the Missouri Valley with a 17-1 record but falling in the conference tournament, an at-large bid to the 2017 NCAA Tournament was not given to the Redbirds. The snub prompted ISU head coach Dan Muller to reach out on Twitter to schedule any Power 5 opponent for the upcoming season. Ross Bjork, Ole Miss Vice Chancellor/Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, saw Muller’s tweet and showed head coach Andy Kennedy. The two loved the idea of a matchup with a strong mid-major program and contacted Illinois State to set up a home-and-home series.

Illinois State enters Saturday’s contest with a 4-6 record following back-to-back losses to BYU (Dec. 6) and Murray State (Dec. 9). ISU does have a victory over an SEC opponent, defeating South Carolina in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Myrtle Beach (Nov. 16). The Redbirds like to shoot from long distance, leading the Missouri Valley in three-point field goal attempts (274) and making 9.9 threes per game. Junior guard Keyshawn Evans leads ISU with 18.6 ppg to go along with a team-high 44 assists. Evans is a sharpshooter, knocking down threes at a 49.3 percent clip (35 of 71). Fellow classmate Phil Fayne adds 16.9 ppg to go along with 6.7 rebounds per game and 14 total steals, both team bests. The Redbirds are coached by Dan Muller, who is in his sixth season at the helm.

Ole Miss is still looking for its first win over Illinois State, as the Redbirds have taken the previous three meetings. Illinois State one the first matchup 76-72 on its home floor (Dec. 23, 1978). The two programs would not play again until 26 years later on the final day of the BCA Classic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Nov. 16, 2004), a 70-52 victory for the Redbirds. The latest contest was in the NIT (March 14, 2012), and Illinois State claimed a 96-93 OT win in Tad Smith Coliseum.

The last time the Rebels and Redbirds battled on the court, it was the first round of the 2012 NIT (March 14, 2012). Illinois State shot the lights out, and Ole Miss couldn’t finish a comeback attempt as the Rebels lost 96-93 in overtime. Off the bench, then-freshman guard LaDarius White scored a career-high 25 points to lead Ole Miss. In his final collegiate game, Terrance Henry finished with 21 points. Illinois State was led by the strong backcourt duo of Tyler Brown and Nic Moore. The duo combined to score 50 of the Redbirds’ 96 points with Brown producing a season-tying best 26 and Moore a career-high 24. Brown finished 9-of-10 from the field and 8-of-9 from beyond distance, while Moore finished 7-of-9 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from three. The Redbirds’ 17 3-pointers set a Tad Smith Coliseum record by any team.

Ole Miss is 10-9 all-time against the current members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Along with going 0-3 against Illinois State throughout history, the Rebels have also faced Bradley (3-2), Drake (1-0), Evansville (2-0), Indiana State (1-1), Loyola-Chicago (1-0), Southern Illinois (1-2) and Valparaiso (1-1). Two of the Rebels’ upcoming three games will be against Missouri Valley opponents. After facing Illinois State on Saturday, Ole Miss will host Bradley six days later (Dec. 22).

Ole Miss was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday as the Rebels snapped a three-game skid with a comfortable 82-69 win over Sam Houston State to improve to 5-4 on the season. Four Rebels scored in double figures. Markel Crawford led all scorers with 16 points, and he got started early. The junior scored 14 in the first half highlighted by three consecutive three’s that helped Ole Miss hop out to a 30-11 lead and forced the Bearkats to call a timeout. Devontae Shuler had 14 points, Bruce Stevens scored 13 and Deandre Burnett added 12. Marcanvis Hymon scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Justas Furmanavicius scored eight points and added seven rebounds. Ole Miss, as a team, held a 43-30 advantage on the glass, its highest rebounding margin of the season (+13). Dominik Olejniczak was 3 of 3 from the field for six points and snared four boards in 10 minutes of play. The seven-footer played well enough to earn more minutes, but Sam Houston State showed a small lineup most of the night and head coach Andy Kennedy was forced to adjust.

Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy’s squads since he took the reins in 2006-07. Ole Miss is 137-36 (.792 win pct.) in games played homes during Kennedy’s tenure. In two seasons playing in the $96.5 million Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels hold a 24-10 (.706) advantage against the opposition. Ole Miss has won 262 of its last 330 games (.794 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1996-97 campaign.

Since being inserted into the starting lineup the past two games, junior college transfer Bruce Stevens has put together his best performances as a Rebel. In his first start, last week at Middle Tennessee (Dec. 9), he recorded 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting in a season-high 25 minutes for his first double-digit scoring game of the season. Stevens followed that game with a career-high 13-point night in a win over Sam Houston State (Dec. 13), going 6 of 7 from the floor. On the year, the Louin, Mississippi, native is averaging 7.7 ppg to go along with 5.3 rpg.

The Ole Miss bench has played a prominent role in scoring through the early part of the 2017-18 campaign, averaging 29.9 points per game. In four of the Rebels’ nine games, the bench has scored at least 40 points. The season high for bench points occurred against Utah (Nov. 20) in Las Vegas, as the reserves tallied 46 of the team’s 74 points.

Andy Kennedy has proven to develop guards during his time at Ole Miss. Over Kennedy’s 11 seasons in Oxford, 12 guards have earned All-SEC accolades to rank third among conference teams. This season, the depth at guard shows in terms of scoring. Ole Miss guards have accounted for 74.1 percent of the Rebels’ points. The top five scorers on the team are guards led by Terence Davis (15.6 ppg), Deandre Burnett (14.6 ppg) and Markel Crawford (11.1 ppg). Freshman Devontae Shuler adds 10.4 ppg, while Breein Tyree contributes 8.1 ppg.

Ole Miss has taken care of the basketball this season. The Rebels have coughed up the rock only 107 times, ranking 36th nationally in fewest turnovers surrendered. Also by dishing out 16.6 assists per game, the Rebels’ 1.4 assist/turnover ratio sits third in the SEC and 31st in the country. Senior guard Deandre Burnett holds the third-best individual assist/turnover ration in the SEC at 2.9, which ranks 37th nationwide.

With more depth than last year’s squad, head coach Andy Kennedy has the ability to experiment with starting lineups early on in the season to try to find the best starting five. Through nine games, the Rebels have sent out six different starting lineups. Ole Miss is one of nine teams nationally that has had at least six different starting lineups over the first nine games of the season.

Ole Miss has been active with their hands on the defensive end of the floor, averaging 6.6 steals per game. Through nine games, five Rebels have recorded at least eight steals. Terence Davis and Devontae Shuler leads the way with 11 steals, while Markel Crawford is closely behind with 10. Marcanvis Hymon and Breein Tyree have eight steals apiece. Against the Utes (Nov. 20), the Rebels tallied 14 steals throughout the night, the most by them in a game since Feb. 14, 2017 vs. LSU and the most by an SEC team this season.

After a breakout sophomore season last year, averaging 14.9 points per game after only providing 1.8 points per game as a freshman (largest increase in scoring among any returning player in the conference), Terence Davis has become a go-to scorer for Ole Miss. The Southaven, Mississippi, native has scored in double figures in 22 of the last 24 games dating back to last season. Leading the Rebels with 15.6 ppg, Davis ranks 11th in the SEC. He has already reached the 20-point plateau three times, recording 21 in the season opener versus Louisiana (Nov. 10) before putting up 24 in a win over Georgia State one week later (Nov. 17). Against South Dakota State (Nov. 28), Davis scored 20 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. He has also showcased his skills on the defensive end, tied for the team lead in steals (11) and ranking second in blocks (8). As a sophomore last year, Davis ranked fourth in the league in field goal percentage (48.2) and recorded 20+ points in six different games. He quickly became a playmaker on both sides of the floor, leading the Rebels with 50 steals as well.

A first team preseason all-conference selection, senior Deandre Burnett is embracing his role as a leader. The guard has come off the bench in six of the Rebels’ nine games this season. Burnett is averaging 14.6 ppg, ranking second on the team, while leading the Rebels with 41 assists. Not only does he pace Ole Miss in assists, but Burnett takes care of the ball by ranking third in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (2.9). Over the last five games, he has produced 31 assists compared to eight turnovers (3.9 ratio). The Miami Gardens, Florida, native is shooting 42.5 percent (37 of 87) from the floor, including a team-best 39.5 percent (17 of 43) percent from three-point range. Burnett also knocks down his free throws at an 83.3 percent clip (40 of 48). As an 87.2 percent shooter at the line for his career, he is on pace to finish as the second-best free throw shooter in Ole Miss history. Last season, his first as a Rebel, Burnett averaged a team-high 16.5 ppg and finished fifth in the SEC in both free-throw percentage (.881) and three-point percentage (.376). Finishing eighth in the league in scoring, Burnett reached double figures in 26 of 33 games, including 10 20-plus performances and a career-high 41-point output (Nov. 18, 2016 vs. Oral Roberts). He also shared the rock, providing 104 assists throughout the season (3.2 apg).

Heading into the season, a big question mark for Ole Miss was who would fill the void left by Sebastian Saiz. With the help of a school-record 409 rebounds, Saiz recorded 23 double-doubles a season ago. Senior Marcanvis Hymon has been the focal point of the front court that needs to replace Saiz. In his fourth year at Ole Miss, the Memphis, Tennessee, native is the only active player to spend all four seasons in Oxford. Through nine games, Hymon leads the Rebels with 7.3 rpg and ranks ninth in the SEC. He has crashed the glass on the Rebels’ end of the floor, sitting ninth in the conference with 2.4 offensive rebounds per game. Hymon has reached double digits in rebounds three times this year, including a 12-point, 13-rebound performance in the season opener versus Louisiana (Nov. 10). The big opening game marked the third double-double in Hymon’s career. Through 83 career games, Hymon is moving up the school’s career blocks chart. With a team-high 15 already this year, he ranks 11th with 86 career rejections following a team-high 40 last season.

A 4-star guard out of perennial powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, there was a lot of hype surrounding Devontae Shuler entering the season. The freshman has not disappointed, averaging 10.4 ppg in 21.2 minutes per game and swiping a team-high 11 steals. He has converted at the free throw line, making nine of his 10 attempts for a 90.0 percent clip. Against South Dakota State, he recorded a career-high 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting to go along with a team-high three steals. In his debut, Shuler recorded 14 points in 16 minutes off the bench. The Irmo, South Carolina, native knocked down four shots from beyond the arc versus Louisiana (Nov. 10), and his offensive output was the most points by a freshman in a season opener since Trevor Gaskins recorded 21 versus Mississippi Valley State, exactly 10 years ago (Nov. 10, 2007).

As a graduate transfer, Markel Crawford is already making his mark in his only season with the Rebels. The Memphis product has started all nine games and leads Ole Miss in minutes per game (31.3), which ranks fifth in the SEC. He also is third on the team in steals (10), while averaging 11.1 ppg. Versus Sam Houston State on Wednesday night, Crawford entered the game with only six three-pointers through eight games. In the first half, he drilled four treys that led to a team-high 16 points in the win over the Bearkats. Against South Dakota State (Nov. 28), Crawford scored 19 points, his most as a Rebel, on 7 of 11 shooting.

On the season, Ole Miss holds an 8.6-3.8 advantage in fastbreak points per game. A big factor of the Rebels getting out and running is averaging 6.6 steals per game. Against South Dakota State (Nov. 28), the Rebels outscored the Jackrabbits 18-0 in fastbreak points.

With the 12th season led by Mississippi native Andy Kennedy underway, Ole Miss has a 239-144 record, one SEC Tournament championship, two SEC West championships, nine 20-win campaigns and eight postseason berths, which includes two NCAA Tournament appearances and pair of trips to the NIT Final Four, throughout Kennedy’s watch. The all-time winningest coach in school history, Kennedy has averaged more than 21 wins per season in his 11 years in Oxford after the Rebels posted just three 21-win seasons in the 96 years before his arrival.

In his 12th season in the league, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy is the Dean of SEC basketball coaches. Kennedy has faced 38 different head coaches in the SEC during his time in Oxford. He is also the longest tenured head coach in the league in both basketball and football having entered the league prior to Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

Andy Kennedy is also fifth on the list for most wins by a coach in their first 12 years in the league after taking over an SEC program. See the list below:

1. Bill Donovan (Florida) – 285
2. Joe B. Hall (Kentucky) – 279
3. Wimp Sanderson (Alabama) – 265
4. Rick Stansbury (Mississippi State) – 255
5. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) – 239
6. Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt) – 236
7. Hugh Durham (Georgia) – 219
8. Ray Mears (Tennessee) – 218
9. Dale Brown (LSU) – 212
10. C.M. Newton (Alabama) – 211
11. Roy Skinner (Vanderbilt) – 204
11. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 204

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy is climbing the SEC coaching wins chart, ranking 18th with 239 career victories. See complete list below:

1. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 875
2. Billy Donovan (Florida) – 467
3. Dale Brown (LSU) – 448
4. C.M. Newtown (UA/VU) – 340
Harry Rabenhorst (LSU) – 340
6. Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt) – 332
7. Tubby Smith (UGA/UK) – 308
8. Joe B. Hall (Kentucky) – 297
Hugh Durhman (Georgia) – 297
10. Rick Stansbury (MSU) – 293
11. Ray Mears (Tennessee) – 278
Roy Skinner (Vanderbilt) – 278
13. Wimp Sanderson (Alabama) – 265
John Mauer (UK/UT/UF) – 265
15. Hank Crisp (Alabama) – 264
16. John Calipari (Kentucky) – 256
17. Nolan Richardson (Arkansas) – 249
18. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) – 239 
19. Norm Sloan (Florida) – 232
20. Rick Pitino (Kentucky) – 219
21. Joel Eaves (Auburn) – 214

Andy Kennedy is one of eight active head coaches with 12 or more consecutive winning seasons to start a career. The list includes: Jim Boeheim (41), Roy Williams (29), Tom Izzo (22), Mark Few (18), Jamie Dixon (14), Sean Miller (13) and Dave Rose (12).

Before the holiday break, the Rebels will play a pair of games in The Pavilion next week. First, Ole Miss hosts 2017 NCAA Tournament team Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 19) in a game televised on SEC Network at 6 p.m. CTThree days later, the Rebels welcome Bradley to Oxford for a Friday night tip (Dec. 22, 6 p.m. CT).