By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss Rebels basketball team travels to the Bluff City this morning to take on the No. 16 Memphis Tigers in the FedEx Forum. Tip-off is set for noon on ESPN3.
Ole Miss (4-0) hits the road for the first time of the season after a 65-52 victory over Seattle University on Tuesday. The Rebels get sophomore Blake Hinson back in the lineup for the first time this season.
“Blake returned to practice (Thursday) and it’s good to get him back in the gym,” head coach Kermit Davis said.
Coach Davis’ squad is led in scoring by the veteran trio of Breein Tyree (14.3 ppg), KJ Buffen (14.3 ppg) and Devontae Shuler (13.5 ppg) through the first four games.
The Rebels rank sixth in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 52.0 points per game. The 208 points are the program’s fewest allowed over the first three games of the season since the 1998-99 campaign (200 points).
Memphis (4-1) fell 82-74 to Oregon in Portland (Nov. 12) before rattling off back-to-back wins over Alcorn State (102-56) and Little Rock (68-58). Memphis has outscored the opposition by 25.4 ppg, while averaging 6.4 blocks per game. Both marks rank 14th in the nation.
“Memphis is a really talented team. They play really hard,” Davis said. “They play nine guys with great depth and play fast at home. Points off turnovers are going to be critical.”
Four Tigers average double figures: James Wiseman (19.7 ppg), who is out until January. Precious Achiuwa (13.0 ppg), D.J. Jeffries (12.2 ppg) and Lester Quinones (12.0 ppg) round out balanced scoring for Memphis. Achiuwa ranks sixth in the nation with 36 free throw attempts on the season, but the freshman forward is averaging just 47.2 percent from the line.
“(Wiseman) is a great rim protector with a great presence on both ends of the floor,” Davis said. “Obviously they are going to miss a guy like him, but they are still really talented.”
Penny Hardaway is in his second season as head coach of the Tigers, returning to his alma mater after coaching at Memphis East High School. The former Memphis guard was a two-time All-American before becoming a four-time NBA All-Star for the Orlando Magic.
Memphis is the closest Division I school to Ole Miss as 85 miles separate the two universities. The Tigers lead the all-time series 27-14, but the Rebels have won the last three meetings. Four years ago, the two teams scheduled a home-and-home in back-to-back seasons. The Rebels went into FedExForum and beat Memphis 85-79 in 2015 before sweeping the series with a win in Oxford one year later.
Fans not making the trip to Memphis can listen to the call on the Ole Miss Radio Network or watch the action on ESPN3.