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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: Ole Miss Rebels

What can the Golden Eagles expect from their second straight power conference opponent?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 11 SEC Tournament - Georgia v Ole Miss
That’s Tony. He’s a shark.
Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Name: University of Mississippi

Location: Officially, the school is located in University, Mississippi. However, that’s just a designation of the campus within the boundaries of the city of Oxford.

Founded: 1844 is when the state legislature officially created the university, but classes did not begin until 1848.

Enrollment: All told, 18,668 this school year, with 15,546 as undergraduates. Only 88.4% of Ole Miss students are enrolled full time.

SPACE LAW! While pulling up Ole Miss’ enrollment numbers, I found this note for their Law students: “*JD , LL.M. and Certificate in Air and Space Law Students Included”. Obviously, the phrase SPACE LAW jumps out at you, but that’s not actually the program name. They offer a Grad Certificate if you’re not a lawyer, a specific focus within their JD program, and a Master of Laws degree for already graduated lawyers. The section of their website that explains the program for enrolled law students STARTS with this amazing sentence:

The Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law is the nation’s leading – and only – ABA Accredited law school that offers a concentration in Air and Space Law.

I’m dying at the emphasis on both LEADING and ONLY. The second one is the only one that matters!

Where did “Ole Miss” come from? It apparently was first used on campus as a title of a yearbook in 1897. While there are theories that it was drawn from derogatory terms for the state in general or perhaps from an old train line from Memphis to New Orleans, it appears that the actual origin of the term came from the United States’ slavery era. The student who offered up the name back then told the student newspaper in 1939 that it was a term that the slaves used for the matriarch of the household, differentiating them from the daughters or “young misses.”

Why on earth you would want to name the yearbook in that manner, even in 1897, I have absolutely no idea. How it got attached to the school itself as an unofficial/actually sort of semi-official/actually really official for athletics name? Even less of a clue.

Nickname: Rebels

Why “Rebels”? Well, after the discussion of naming the yearbook with a term used by slaves before 1865, I don’t think this one needs a whole lot of explanation as to how they ended up there. With that said, they didn’t actually start using that as a sports nickname until 1936, and they ended up there thanks to the ever popular campus contest. Apparently they let local sportswriters actually choose the name out of the finalists, which is absolutely wild. They had an actual Guy In Suit mascot that looked like a cartoonish version of an 1860s Confederate gentleman up until 2010 when Rebel The Bear debuted. That lasted until 2017, when the bear was sent to live at a nice farm where he could have lots of space to run around, and was replaced by Tony The Landshark.

The hell is the deal with Hotty Toddy? It’s a phrase you see associated with Ole Miss having notable success in various ventures, and no, it does not make immediate sense. Here’s the official athletics explanation:

It’s a feeling, ideal, fight song, prayer, verbal handshake and way of life, all rolled into one. Like that revered statue imploring us to “never quit,” Hotty Toddy encapsulates the spirit of Ole Miss. Whether yelled on the way to a stadium before a game, or said to someone wearing an Ole Miss shirt as you pass them in the airport. If institutions and traditions make up the fabric of Ole Miss, the thread of Hotty Toddy holds them together.

That, of course, does not help explain things very much.

You can put your weed in there: For a very long time, the DEA allowed only the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana in order to conduct research on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Rules and laws changed in 2016, so they’re not the only one any more, but they used to be. Here’s their explanation on their research:

UM’s research interests include studies of the botanical, pharmacological and chemical properties of the cannabis plant. In addition to supporting the research community through UM’s participation in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Drug Supply Program, UM collaborates with industry partners in support of the development and commercialization of FDA-approved drug products derived from cannabis. UM’s expertise in drug delivery is used to develop optimized formulations for evaluation in animal models and human clinical trials.

We really don’t make enough out of the phrase “UM’s expertise in drug delivery.”

Notable Alumni: Nobel Prize Laureate William Faulkner, perhaps best known for his novel The Sound and the Fury; American civil rights leader James Meredith, who was the first Black student enrolled; NFL quarterbacks Archie and Eli Manning; actress Kate Jackson, best known for her role on Charlie’s Angels; NFL agent Bus Cook; Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, chief medical officer on the USS Enterprise; actor Gerald McRaney, best known for his role on Major Dad; author John Grisham, best known for his legal thrillers and apparently being family friends with CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish’s parents; musician and producer Glen Ballard, probably best known for his production work on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album; and finally, Dixie Carter, former chairwoman of TNA Wrestling

Last Season: 16-12, 10-8 in the SEC, reached the NIT as a #1 seed but lost in the first round

Final 2020-21 Ranking: #51

Final 2020-21 T-Rank Ranking: #48

This Season: 2-0, with two easy home wins over sub-300 KenPom teams

Current 2021-22 Ranking: #53

Current 2021-22 T-Rank Ranking: #63

Returning Stats Leaders

Points: Jarkell Joiner, 12.0 points
Rebounds: Luis Rodriguez, 6.3 rebounds
Assists: Luis Rodriguez, 2.0 assists

Current Stats Leaders

Points: Jarkell Joiner, 18.0 ppg
Rebounds: Jaemyn Brakefield, 5.5 rpg
Assists: Austin Crowley, 6.5 apg

Bigs? Nysier Brooks (7’0”, 245 pounds) is the largest gentleman on the roster that’s getting regular playing time. The former Cincinnati Bearcat and Miami Hurricane has started both of Ole Miss’ games but hasn’t played more than 23 minutes in either one. Then again, they won both games by more than 20 points, so whatever. Brooks is averaging just 6.5 points, but has grabbed up 5.5 rebounds on average through two games, and that’s pretty good for limited PT so far. Jaemyn Brakefield, Eric Van Der Heijden, and Robert Allen are all 6’8” tall, but Allen is the heaviest at 230 pounds. Sammy Hunter is 6’9”, but just 225 pounds and also has played just 21 total minutes.

Shooters? Oh, you betcha. The Rebels are shooting 39.2% from behind the arc as a team so far this season, and you don’t get there without multiple guys hitting shots. Austin Crowley and Jarkell Joiner are both exactly 6-for-11 (55%) this season, while Tye Fagan has hit four of five as well. With that said, Joiner is only a 31% shooter for his career and only hit 26% of his threes last season, Crowley has never shot better than 29% in either of his two seasons in Oxford, and Fagan was a 28% shooter in 89 career games at Georgia.

Head Coach: Kermit Davis, in his fourth season at Ole Miss and 24th season as a Division 1 head coach. He has a record of 456-280 overall and 53-42 with the Rebels.

What To Watch For: This is an interesting one to try to figure out. Marquette’s biggest flaw is that they’re not a very good shooting team so far this season, and Ole Miss is kind of getting caught in a “early season numbers are weird” situation. Their effective field goal defense and two-point shooting defense aren’t ranked very highly right now, but 45.8% and 48.6% respectively would have been top 20 and top 125 last year, both better than they’re ranked right now. If the Rebels can continue that, it might be a long night for Marquette. Even worse, defensive rebounding is the best thing that the Rebels do right now, and Marquette is, so far, a very bad offensive rebounding team.

That carries over to the other end where MU is actually a bad rebounding team overall. GOOD NEWS: Ole Miss is actually worse at offensive rebounding than Marquette is. Now, without having seen the Rebels play, it’s entirely possible that a certain amount of being bad at offensive rebounding is actually just getting back on defense. This game might end up being decided on which team gets and makes the best use of their second chances.

For a team that doesn’t rely much on the three-point shot so far this season — less than 37% of their attempts, #213 in the country at the moment — Ole Miss is disastrously bad at getting to the free throw line. Like “9th worst in the country right now” bad. Part of that might just be their level of competition so far through two games. If they were running through New Orleans and Charleston Southern as easily as those 82-61 and 93-68 scores make it look, then yeah, maybe they were just getting easy buckets and fouls just weren’t part of the process. Marquette, on the other hand, hasn’t quite figured out how to defend the way Shaka Smart wants without fouling. At some point, all of these foul shots for the other guys — over 21 a game so far — is going to bite Marquette in the butt.

Ole Miss projects as a middle of the pack SEC team so far this season. They haven’t deviated much from their preseason ranking, and they look to go about .500 in the league. That’s better than Marquette’s expectation, even after Monday’s win over #10 Illinois. The computers don’t favor the Golden Eagles at the moment, but the computers also don’t have the ability to take into account the motivation of wanting to prove that Monday night wasn’t a fluke. Will MU’s defensive attitude create enough anxiety in a Rebels team that hasn’t been pushed very hard at all yet this season?

All-Time Series: Marquette is 1-0 all time against Ole Miss. The lone meeting between the two sides came in the semifinals of the 2011 Paradise Jam. The Golden Eagles had runs of 13-2 and 23-2 in the first half to take a 51-29 lead at the break and not worry about it any more on the way to a 96-66 win. Jae Crowder was damn near perfect that day, going for 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting and added seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks to the show.