Mississippi Rebels vs. Troy Trojans Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 19th 2023

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First-year head coach Chris Beard brought relevance back to the Ole Miss basketball program.

Beard has also helped earn a Top 25 ranking for the Rebels, their first since January 2019.

No. 25 Ole Miss (10-0) hosts Troy on Tuesday in Oxford, Miss., looking to extend its best start since 2007, when it won its first 13 games.

The Rebels are fresh off an 88-78 victory over Cal on Saturday in San Antonio, a game that saw Ole Miss senior Jaemyn Brakefield pour in career highs of 27 points and five 3-pointers. The win left the Rebels as one of four undefeated teams left in college basketball.

Matthew Murrell added 19 points and Jaylen Murray tallied 14 for Beard’s team, which is still attempting to garner national recognition.

“To start the season this way is a credit to our guys,” Beard said earlier in the week. “I do think we’re a team that is going to have to demand some respect. I don’t know how many undefeated teams there are left, but I’m assuming there aren’t many. There’s just not a lot of narrative around our team right now. I think our guys are using that. I think we do appear to be a team with a chip on our shoulder.”

Keying the hot start to the year has been Auburn transfer Allen Flanigan. The fifth-year senior leads the team at 17.4 points per game, while Murrell and Murray average 15.9 and 14.6, respectively.

With a list of marquee wins already under their belt, the Rebels have executed a massive turnaround from last season.

Beard was named head coach at Ole Miss on March 13, four days after its program-tying 21st loss of the season in the SEC Tournament.

Ole Miss needs just two more wins to match last year’s total of 12.

Led by head coach Scott Cross, Troy (5-5) entered the season fresh off two straight 20-win seasons, but has dealt with inconsistency through 10 games this year.

The Trojans have yet to win consecutive games and just two of their five wins have been against Division I teams.

They come to Oxford following a 110-63 victory over NAIA member Southern-New Orleans, with help from Christyon Eugene, who scored 19 points, and Randarius Jones, who added 15.

“For us to take that next step, we’re going to have to improve defensively,” Cross said. “It’s got to be a priority for each and every person. We have to find ways to get better.”

Eugene leads Troy’s scoring on the year at 16 points per game. Aamer Muhammad adds 11 points per contest and Tayton Conerway averages 10.8.

Tuesday’s game won’t be the first time Cross and Beard have squared off. In Beard’s lone season at Little Rock in 2015-16, he faced Cross’ UT-Arlington team twice. The two also met in 2020, when Beard’s Texas Tech team faced Troy. Beard is 3-0 against Cross.

Ole Miss is 10-0 all-time against the Trojans, with Tuesday the first meeting since December 2015.

–Field Level Media

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