Ole Miss will open its 2019-20 season Friday night when it hosts Arkansas State of the Sun Belt Conference. The Rebels head into their second season under coach Kermit Davis looking to improve on last season's 20-win campaign and NCAA Tournament appearance, while the Red Wolves come into this game off a season-opening win over Arkansas-Monticello on Wednesday.
Guard Canberk Kus led the Arkansas State scoring effort in its opener, tying his career high with 17 points while recording career bests in both assists (four) and steals (four). Ole Miss has its own high-scoring guard in senior Breein Tyree, who is the SEC's leading returning scorer (17.9 points). Tyree is one of three returning starters for the Rebels, along with junior guard Devontae Shuler (10.3 points, 3.3 assists) and sophomore swingman Blake Hinson (8.3 points). Hinson isn't expected to suit up for at least four games after he had a blood abnormality discovered in the offseason.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, No TV.
ABOUT ARKANSAS STATE (1-0): Although the final score looked nice, with the Red Wolves winning their opener by 16 points, coach Mike Balado can't be happy with his team's effort for much of the game, as Arkansas State trailed the visiting Boll Weevils by one early in the second half Wednesday. The Red Wolves were able to turn up the defensive intensity to create a 16-0 run that put them in control, but it wasn't a simple opener. Balado admitted his team may have been looking forward to their first matchup with an SEC school since 2016, but he also expects full intensity all 40 minutes of every game.
ABOUT OLE MISS (2018-19: 20-13): The Rebels are expecting big things out of sophomore swingman Luis Rodriguez, who came to Ole Miss as a four-star recruit but played just 154 minutes as a freshman, averaging 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds. Rodriguez will be a starter when the Rebels begin their 2019-20 campaign and says he feels much more comfortable in his second season in Oxford. Rodriguez, who had six points on 2-of-3 shooting in an exhibition win over Mississippi College on Monday, credits current NBA player Terence Davis for pushing him in practice when Davis was with the Rebels last season for his confidence coming into this season.
1. Tyree was named as one of 20 guards on the Jerry West Watch list, given to the nation's top shooting guard.
2. Shuler had 56 steals to lead Ole Miss last season and set a school record for steals by a Rebels sophomore.
3. Sophomore G KJ Buffen led the Rebels with 21 points and six rebounds in the exhibition win over Mississippi College.
Key Players to Watch
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