Ole Miss storms past Southern Miss to remain undefeated

Published 8:59 pm Saturday, December 23, 2023

BILOXI (AP) — Matthew Murrell had a season-high 26 points and five assists, Jaylen Murray scored 21 points and unbeaten No. 25 Ole Miss defeated Southern Miss 89-72 on Saturday at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

The victory extended one of the nation’s longest winning streaks and wrapped up a 2-0 week for an Ole Miss team that’s ranked inside the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2019. The Rebels’ 12 straight wins to open the season are the second-most in program history, one shy of the 13-0 start in 2007-08.

The Rebels (12-0) took control from the tip-off, knocking down each of their first four 3-point attempts and eight of their first 10 total shots. The Golden Eagles (6-6) never led in the neutral-site meeting that was a 12-year first for the in-state programs.

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“The first half was one of our better 20-minute segments at Ole Miss, and I think the main reason is we had so much respect for Southern Miss,” Rebels coach Chris Beard said after the game. “We knew they were going to compete. They were a team that had the guys full attention.”

Ole Miss entered the game as a top-20 team in 3-point shooting and took advantage against an Eagles defense that ranked 314th at defending such shots.

The Rebels made 11 of 19 shots from behind the arc, getting five 3s from Murray and three from Murrell.

Southern Miss got 15 points off the bench from Cobie Montgomery, who scored 13 in the first half. The Golden Eagles’ bench produced 40 points while the starting five hit just 10 field goals.

Andre Curbelo was one of three Southern Miss players to finish with 13 points. The St. John’s transfer helped spark the Golden Eagles in the second half as they cut the Rebels’ lead from 19 points to 10 just inside the final 10 minutes.

Ole Miss then forced four of USM’s 16 turnovers over four consecutive possessions to halt the brief spurt of momentum. The Rebels finished with 26 points off turnovers and were aided by three steals each from Murray and Allen Flanigan.

Southern Miss will enter conference play with a losing record against Division I opponents for the fourth time in the past five seasons.

“It just seemed like time after time after time we’d get back and have a chance to really cut into the lead and they would make a play,” Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner said. “Of course, you have to give credit to them … That’s what good teams do. I think this was a really, really good game for us to help prepare us for league play.”