The 9th-seeded Oklahoma Sooners are back in the NCAA Tournament after an up and down 2018-19 season. The 8th-seeded Ole Miss Rebels are the first round opponent standing in the way of OU advancing in the Big Dance for the first time since 2016. Whether or not this is the final game for the seniors on this team, it is indeed the final run.
What better way to start your Friday morning than with some bracket-busting basketball?
Oklahoma (19-13, 7-11 Big 12) vs. Ole Miss (20-12, 10-8 SEC): 11:40 a.m. CT at Colonial Life Arena (Columbia, SC)
Commentary: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson
Live Stream: March Madness Live
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing
Line: Ole Miss -1
About Ole Miss
- There isn’t a ton of history to reflect upon when it comes to Ole Miss and the NCAA Tournament (other than that big shot at The Myriad more than two decades ago). This year marks just the ninth appearance for the Rebels. Overall, this program is 5-8 in the tourney, with its deepest run being a Sweet Sixteen berth in 2001.
- In his first season as the head coach for Ole Miss, Kermit Davis was named SEC Coach of the Year. The Rebels were picked to finish in last place in the conference standings during the preseason, but Davis and his staff surpassed those expectations and then some.
- The Rebels are a guard-centric team, with Breein Tyree, Terence Davis and Devontae Shuler headlining the lineup. Each guard brings a different style of play to the equation. Tyree is the go-to scorer (third in the SEC), Davis leads the team in rebounding and assists, and Shuler plays with a defense-first mentality.
- Ole Miss, like Oklahoma, went on a hot streak in non-conference play, but ultimately faded in conference play down the stretch, losing five of its last seven coming into the Big Dance. The Rebels were also inconsistent in games decided by two possessions or fewer, going 5-6 in such contests.
- Including this year’s appearance, Oklahoma has played in six of the last seven NCAA Tournaments and 32 overall. The Sooners are still seeking their first tournament win since their Final Four run in 2016 with Consensus First Team All-American Buddy Hield.
- For the first third of the season, senior Christian James was the clear-cut go-to guy for Oklahoma, but as the year went on he went through a shooting slump that forced others to make up for his declining production. In wake of that, junior Kristian Doolittle quietly evolved into a player that the Sooners could lean on in clutch moments. By season’s end, Doolittle was named Most Improved Player in the Big 12, and from the evidence it was well-deserved.
- Jamuni McNeace has been plagued by ankle injuries all throughout his senior season, and in Oklahoma’s last outing, the big man went down once again. Reports have been mostly positive during the week as he is expected to play against Ole Miss, but how close he is to full strength is to be determined.
Jamuni McNeace going full speed through drills. He’s been battling an ankle issue. When asked, on scale of 1-10, how his ankle is, he said it is a 10 “because I don’t want to have any excuses.” #Sooners pic.twitter.com/wB06fiS2s9— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) March 21, 2019
- OU and Ole Miss have only played against one another three times (‘98, ‘99, ‘00) prior to this meeting in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Sooners are 1-2 in those meetings with a chance to tie up the series on Friday.
- Coming into the tournament, Ole Miss ranked 36th in the NCAA NET ratings, while Oklahoma was slotted right behind the Rebels at 37th. From an analytics standpoint, this is about as close of a matchup as it gets.
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