Central Florida Knights vs. Mississippi Rebels Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 10th 2023

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Ole Miss is part of a special baker’s dozen early in the 2023-24 campaign and will look to remain that way Sunday afternoon when it faces UCF in Orlando, Fla.

One of 13 undefeated Division I squads entering play Saturday, the Rebels (8-0) feel like they have an opportunity this week to make a statement, according to first-year coach Chris Beard.

“We get a chance to practice twice here in Oxford this week, travel day to Orlando Saturday, and then we play a Big 12 opponent on the road on Sunday,” said Beard of his team, the only undefeated one in the SEC.

He added, “In my mind, this week will show a lot about where our team is and where it’s heading.”

In its last outing Tuesday against Mount St. Mary’s, Ole Miss won 77-68 behind a career-high 26 points from Jaylen Murray, a transfer guard from Saint Peter’s who sank six straight free throws at the end.

The test against a quality SEC squad should be helpful for the Knights (6-2), who are a Big 12 newcomer and will begin conference play at Kansas State on Jan. 6.

Following its second defeat in an 85-82 setback to nearby Stetson two weeks ago, coach Johnny Dawkins’ club has responded with routs over Lipscomb and Jacksonville.

Sunday’s tilt will be UCF’s ninth straight game either in Florida — it played at No. 13 Miami and won a tournament in St. Augustine — or on its home court in a stretch of 12 straight Sunshine State showdowns to start the season.

The Knights have dropped three of the four career meetings between the schools, but they won 72-61 last season in Mississippi.

Dawkins said knocking off the Rebels again would be a solid benchmark for his squad with Power 5 play looming.

“I think so,” the eighth-year UCF coach said. “I think it’s great to play an SEC team. They’re having a really good season thus far. So yes, it’ll be a great test for us.

“But that’s what you want to be in. You want to be in games that are going to push you, see where you are. We’re going to learn a lot about ourselves.

–Field Level Media

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