by Joseph W. Gex II, Staff Writer
The Ole Miss Rebels remained undefeated with an impressive 89-72 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Saturday at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss. Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.
The Rebels are one of just three undefeated teams (Houston and James Madison) left in college basketball with a 12-0 record following their win over Southern Miss.
The #25-Rebels, ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2019, jumped out front from the tipoff as USM never led in the contest.
Ole Miss hit their first four three-pointers and eight of their first 10 shots as they jumped out to 47-30 lead at intermission and ended up leading by as many as 21 in the second half before the final tally.
USM head coach, and former Saint Stanislaus head coach, Jay Ladner commented, “Give credit to Coach Chris Beard and the Ole Miss Rebels for a great game today. I appreciate Coach Beard helping to restart this rivalry. It was a good game, tremendous crowd, and a beautiful day. The Rebels shot the ball extremely well, especially early. We were not able to get a stop early while they were able to make play after play. We want to be prepared for conference play when it begins, and we scheduled up with Ole Miss today. This can be an incredible lesson for us if we can learn from it as we begin conference play soon. We will continue to be a work in progress so that we can be ready to play our best basketball in February in Pensacola.”
Ladner recalled his many years on the Coast prior to taking the USM job, “Matt McDonnell and his crew here at the Coliseum did a tremendous job with the event today. Many years ago, we started Hoops Fest to help give a boost to Coast basketball and it is still going on today. It was so great to see so many people that I have not seen in a while come out and support this game today. I spent 20 wonderful years at Saint Stanislaus. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart and the community were so integral to my growth as a young coach and helping build our program. I always enjoy coming back home to visit with everyone. I hope this is an event that we can continue every year.”
Cobie Montgomery came off the bench to pace Southern Miss with 15 points. Victor Hart added a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds followed by Victor Iwuakor and Andre Curbelo with 13 points each.
Ole Miss head coach Chris Beard stated, “I would like to commend USM head coach Jay Ladner and the Southern Miss team for a tremendous game today. When we got the job, this was the first game that we wanted to schedule. I have the utmost respect for Jay Ladner and his team. Also, I want to thank Matt McDonnell and his staff here at the Coliseum for a first-class event. They did an outstanding job in making sure that the event went off without a hitch. This is an outstanding venue and I remember it from my time spent here as a child as my father was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base for a time. Today was a tough game. We had some success early, but USM outplayed us in the second half. Jay Ladner had his team prepared for us today. We are continuing to grow as a program, and we need to continue growing as we begin conference play soon. We are not concerned with being a Top 25 team right now. We want to win six games on three consecutive weekends in the spring to say we are a good team. That stretch begins 88 days from now. We have to continue to get better to get to that point.”
Ole Miss was led by Matthew Murrell with 26 points with four three-pointers followed by Jaylen Murray with 21 points with five three-pointers. Jaemyn Brakefield had 15 points and 7 rebounds while Allen Flanigan added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
USM opens conference play at Georgia Southern on December 30 and Ole Miss hosts Bryant University on December 31.