For the second straight year, The University of Mississippi will kick off the basketball season with Square Jam tonight at 6:30 in front of Oxford City Hall.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will participate in a basketball showcase that includes a 3-point shootout, dunk contest and a game of knockout, and new to this year’s event will be a horse competition.
Square Jam will take advantage of the intimacy that Oxford and the Square provide and looks to heighten excitement for the upcoming basketball season.
“It kinda brings that home feel,” said Brandon Hudspeth, Ole Miss marketing coordinator. “It’s very small but big at the same time. We’re excited about doing it.”
To keep fans involved, last year’s game of knockout featured fans from the crowd. Also, Aaron Jones used a fan during the dunk contest.
As other schools start their seasons with midnight madness, Ole Miss has found a creative way to draw fans to watch the basketball teams in a loose environment.
“We’re a football school,” Hudspeth said. “Obviously football is king, but doing things like this and taking basketball to the Square, which is the hub of Oxford, where our fans are, it helps send that message that we’re serious about basketball.”
Last year’s Square Jam drew approximately 2500 fans, and with this year’s event expected to draw more, improvements have been made to the event.
In order for more people to see the event, there will be additional bleachers and a video screen set up. The court will feature an Ole Miss logo, and the players’ benches will be heated.
Last season, Nick Williams and Gracie Frizzell won the 3-point shootout, while Jones took home the dunk contest and Derrick Millinghaus won knockout.
The dunk contest this year will be judged by Athletics Director Ross Bjork, head women’s basketball coach Matt Insell and a member of the Rebel Rewards program.
Insell is entering his first season as the women’s head coach. Previously, he was an assistant at Kentucky and will look to turn around the women’s program, which went 9-20 last season and has been below .500 the last three years.
The men’s team won the SEC tournament last year and made it to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
A week from today, the men will play an exhibition game at home against USC-Aiken. The women will host Christian Brothers in an exhibition on Nov. 3.
The regular season will begin for both teams on Nov. 8 in a doubleheader. The women will host Jacksonville State at 5 p.m., and the men will follow with a game against Troy.
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss basketball, follow @Tyler_RSR and @thedm_sports on Twitter.