No. 7 Alabama set to face Ole Miss at Coleman Coliseum

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

On Wednesday night, then-No. 8 Alabama defeated then-No. 21 Mississippi State 78-67 behind a scorching second-half effort from Mark Sears and Brandon Miller.  

After opening SEC play with a victory, the Crimson Tide will now turn their attention towards yet another Mississippi foe: the Ole Miss Rebels.  

Led by fifth-year head coach Kermit Davis, the Rebels sit at 8-5 (0-1) through their first 13 contests — a mark that has Davis on the early-season hotseat.  

Captaining the ship in Oxford is guard Matthew Murrell, who is averaging 14.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in the midst of his junior campaign.  

Joining Murrell in the backcourt is freshman Amaree Abram, a dynamic 6-foot-4 combo guard who is averaging 9.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game to kick off his college career. 

Manning the frontcourt is imposing 6-foot-8, 216-pound forward Jaemyn Brakefield, a former Duke transfer who is averaging 8.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. 

Right behind Brakefield are Myles Burns and Jayveous McKinnis, a pair of throwback 6-foot-7 senior forwards with little-to-no range from three-point land and a knack for toughness. 

Heading into Tuesday’s contest, Ole Miss ranks 51st in defensive adjusted efficiency, their calling card on the hardwood.  

Joining McKinnis, a 3x SWAC Defensive Player of the Year at Jackson State, in the transfer portal were Josh Mballa from Buffalo and Theo Akwuba from Louisiana, a pair of conference defensive player of the year award winners in their own right. 

While the Rebels have stepped up to the plate defensively, they’ve faltered on offensive end of the floor — ranking 267th in three-point percentage, 249th in turnover percentage, 274th in free-throw percentage, and 170th in two-point percentage.  

As of Monday, the analytics service KenPom projects an 78-66 win for Alabama — a 86% chance at victory.  

After losing in embarrassing fashion to North Alabama on Dec. 20 and dropping a heartbreaker to Tennessee on Wednesday, Ole Miss finds themselves between a rock and a hard place coming into Tuscaloosa. There’s no such thing as a trap game in the SEC, but this one certainly has the feel of it heading into the Crimson Tide’s highly anticipated matchup with Kentucky on Jan. 7. Can Alabama hold off a desperate Rebels squad predicated on smashmouth basketball? Time will tell. 

Tipoff for No. 7 Alabama and Ole Miss at Coleman Coliseum is set for Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. CT on SEC Network. 

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