First Scouting Report: Kentucky will face Chris Beard as Ole Miss coach for first time

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A look ahead to the Kentucky Wildcats’ next men’s basketball game:

The opponent

No. 17 Kentucky (16-7, 6-4 SEC) will face Mississippi (18-5, 5-5 SEC) on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Rupp Arena (seating capacity 20,545) at Central Bank Center in downtown Lexington.

The game will tip off at 9 p.m. (EST) and be telecast by ESPN.

Coach Chris Beard’s Rebels will come to Lexington after having a week off. Ole Miss last played on Feb. 6, a 68-65 loss at No. 15 South Carolina.

Series history

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Mississippi 110-14 and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings.

As UK head man, John Calipari is 14-2 against the Rebels.

Ole Miss coach Chris Beard will be facing Kentucky for the first time as coach of the Rebels. Beard is 0-1 overall versus the Wildcats.

Mississippi coach Chris Beard will bring the Rebels to Rupp Arena for the first time following a full week off to prepare for the game. Petre Thomas/USA TODAY NETWORK
Mississippi coach Chris Beard will bring the Rebels to Rupp Arena for the first time following a full week off to prepare for the game. Petre Thomas/USA TODAY NETWORK

Most recent meeting

Antonio Reeves came off the Kentucky bench to hit 8 of 12 shots, 6 of 7 3-pointers and score 27 points to lead UK to a 75-66 win over Mississippi in Oxford on Jan. 31, 2023.

Jacob Toppin added 18 points for the Wildcats, while Oscar Tshiebwe had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Sahvir Wheeler chipped in four points, four rebounds and nine assists for Kentucky.

Mississippi was led by Amaree Abram with 17 points.

Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves (12) came off the bench to score 27 points and lead UK to a 75-66 win over Mississippi last season in Oxford, Miss. Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com
Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves (12) came off the bench to score 27 points and lead UK to a 75-66 win over Mississippi last season in Oxford, Miss. Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com

Power rankings

In the Pomeroy Ratings, Kentucky is No. 24 and Mississippi is No. 60.

The NCAA NET rankings have Kentucky No. 23 and Ole Miss No. 60.

Know your foe

1. Even though Kentucky was No. 23 in the NCAA NET rankings and Mississippi No. 60 entering play Saturday, the underlying profiles of the two teams are strikingly similar.

After falling to Gonzaga, UK is 2-5 vs. Quad 1 opponents; Ole Miss is 2-4. Where the Wildcats are 3-1 in Quad 2 games, the Rebels are 2-1. Kentucky is 5-1 in Quad 3 games, Mississippi 7-0. UK is 6-0 vs. Quad 4 foes, Ole Miss is 7-0.

The similarity in NCAA Tournament profiles between Kentucky and Mississippi makes this a sneaky big game for the Cats. You don’t want to take a home loss that would, potentially, give an opponent of similar profile a direct upper hand over you for Selection Sunday.

2. Even though Chris Beard overhauled the Ole Miss roster for his first season as head coach by bringing in 10 newcomers, it is a holdover from the Kermit Davis Jr. coaching era, who remains the Rebels’ best player. Two seasons ago, Matthew Murrell dropped 25 points on Kentucky at Rupp Arena, hitting 9 of 16 shots, 5 of 8 treys and doling out four assists.

Two seasons ago, Mississippi guard Matthew Murrell (11) had 25 points and four assists against Kentucky at Rupp Arena. This season, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Murrell is the Rebels’ leading scorer at 16.8 points a game. Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com
Two seasons ago, Mississippi guard Matthew Murrell (11) had 25 points and four assists against Kentucky at Rupp Arena. This season, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Murrell is the Rebels’ leading scorer at 16.8 points a game. Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com

This season, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior from Memphis is averaging a team-best 16.8 points and grabbing 3.7 rebounds a game while shooting 47.6% overall, 39.4% on 3-point attempts and 75% on foul shots.

3. Among seven transfers from NCAA Division I schools on the 2023-24 Mississippi roster are at least three familiar faces.

A graduate transfer after turning in four solid seasons at Auburn, Allen Flanigan is having his best year as a collegian at Ole Miss. The 6-6, 215-pound wing is averaging a career bests in scoring, 15.7 points per game, and rebounding, 6.7.

Two seasons ago as a freshman, Jaylen Murray contributed eight points, three rebounds and two assists to help NCAA Tournament No. 15 seed Saint Peters shock No. 2 seed Kentucky 85-79 in overtime in the round of 64. Now at Ole Miss, the 5-11, 170-pound junior from the Bronx, New York, has blossomed into a standout.

Two seasons ago, Jaylen Murray (32) scored eight points to help Saint Peter’s stun Kentucky in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Now at Mississippi, Murray is averaging 14.3 points and four assists this season for the Rebels. Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com
Two seasons ago, Jaylen Murray (32) scored eight points to help Saint Peter’s stun Kentucky in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Now at Mississippi, Murray is averaging 14.3 points and four assists this season for the Rebels. Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com

Murray is averaging 14.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, four assists and 1.3 steals a game while making 44.2% of his shots overall, 42.5% of his 3-point attempts and 71.9% of his foul shots.

Former Western Kentucky Hilltoppers big man Jamarion Sharp, the 7-5 shot-blocking ace, is not logging as much court time for Chris Beard at Ole Miss as he did for Rick Stansbury at WKU. After playing at least 28 minutes a game in each of the past two seasons for Western, Sharp is averaging 16.8 minutes this season for Mississippi.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers center Jamarion Sharp (33) blocked a shot by Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe (34) during UK’s 95-60 win over WKU at Rupp Arena on Dec. 22, 2021. The 7-foot-5 Sharp, a Hopkinsville product, is now playing for Mississippi. Alex Slitz/aslitz@herald-leader.com
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers center Jamarion Sharp (33) blocked a shot by Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe (34) during UK’s 95-60 win over WKU at Rupp Arena on Dec. 22, 2021. The 7-foot-5 Sharp, a Hopkinsville product, is now playing for Mississippi. Alex Slitz/aslitz@herald-leader.com

Sharp is averaging 3.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks for Ole Miss, while making 62.1% of his field-goal tries and 50% of his free throws. Last year at WKU, Sharp, a Hopkinsville product, averaged 7.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and shot 62.8%.

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