The Rebels got their third win in three games on Tuesday night with a victory over the UT-Chattanooga Mocs 70-58. The Rebels were led by junior guard Matthew Murrell who contributed 25 points including six threes with 16 of his points coming in the second half.
Although the Rebels were a favorite going into the game, the Mocs were a tournament team a year ago, despite not getting out of the first round. In their 12-point win, Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis and company had a lot to be happy about going forward.
With sophomore point guard Daeshun Ruffin still recovering from injury, the scoring load has been shifted solely onto Murrell and so far, he’s produced.
In the first three games of the season, the Memphis native is averaging 18.3 points per game on 42.3% shooting from the field including a game where he shot 27.3% against FAU. While it is still very early on in the season for him and the Rebels, seeing shots fall in early on is crucial in building up confidence in himself and being able to hit those shots when it really matters.
Davis and his staff have recruited very well the past two cycles, netting back-to-back Top 25 classes.
Newcomers Amaree Abram, T.J. Caldwell and Myles Burns, to name a few, have been key contributors for the Rebels thus far with Abram and Burns starting. On Tuesday, Caldwell pitched in 10 points in 23 minutes shooting 44.4% off of the bench and gave much needed production for that second unit.
These early-season games are crucial for the adaptation to the college game for the freshmen like Abram and Caldwell who are sure to be big rotation players for Davis once the season begins.
Ruffin is expected to be back before then so that will likely shift Abram to run the point off the bench, something that is a luxury for Davis to have.
The Mocs took an early 14-7 lead five minutes into the half before the Rebels leveled things up with a 9-2 run of their own. After that, it was a back-and-forth affair for the rest of the first half and it was all knotted up at 33-33 at the halftime break.
This game really took a turn in the second half when Murrell spurred a 13-3 run around the middle of the second half with a flurry from the junior as he scored 14 points in just five minutes.
The Rebels would solidify their lead and go on to win comfortably, improving their record to 3-0.