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No. 25 Ole Miss chasing 12-0 start vs. Southern Miss

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Ole Miss followed its highest-scoring game of the season with a dominant defensive performance.

The No. 25 Rebels (11-0) will try to remain undefeated when they face Southern Miss (6-5) on Saturday in Biloxi, Miss.

The ability of Ole Miss to excel on both ends of the court has enabled it to win by more comfortable margins recently.

The Rebels had their largest margin of victory in their most recent outing, defeating visiting Troy 74-53 on Tuesday night. Three days before that they outscored Cal 88-78 in San Antonio.

Before those two games, they had had just one double-digit margin of victory in their previous seven games, five of which featured margins of three points or fewer.

“We’re consistently playing hard throughout the entire game, not letting up,” guard Matthew Murrell said. “We make an effort to keep feeding off each other’s energy and keep going hard even when we do have a comfortable lead.”

Murrell was one of the leaders of the stellar defensive effort against Troy, making a school-record 10 steals. He called the performance “a really big moment,” one made “even better” because it occurred on his 22nd birthday.

He also had a team-high 18 points to give the senior his first career double-double.

Jamarion Sharp added six blocked shots, all of which came in the first half, and Allen Flanigan had a career-high nine assists to go with his 13 points.

“We had a lot of individual special performances,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said. “College basketball has always been a players’ game and always will be so you need those special individual performances. It was pretty cool to have three of them in the same game.”

The defensive performance produced 25 turnovers by the Trojans.

The Rebels defense will face a Golden Eagles’ team that committed a season-high 17 turnovers in their last game, but Southern Mississippi still came away with an 82-79 victory against Lamar on Monday night in Beaumont, Texas.

The game featured the Golden Eagles debut of Andre Curbelo, a double-transfer from Illinois and St. John’s who finally was cleared by the NCAA. He finished with 13 points and six assists. One of his assists came on a 3-pointer by Mo Arnold that gave Southern Miss the lead for good with 25 seconds remaining.

“He’s an incredibly talented player,” Golden Eagles coach Jay Ladner said of Curbelo. “He does some things that you can’t coach. He has such a great feel for the game. He is one of those rare guys that can see plays developing two or three plays ahead of the actual play and can make the play accordingly.”

Arnold, whom Ladner credited for having “an incredible offseason,” finished with a season-high 15 points.

Austin Crowley, the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year while playing for the conference tournament champions last season, made four 3-pointers amid scoring 22 points as he reached 1,000 for his career.

Curbelo and Arnold shared the team-high with six assists each among Southern Mississippi’s 18, its second-highest total of the season.

–Field Level Media

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