Ole Miss basketball coach Kermit Davis beat his former school this week and now prepares for a giant-killer of sorts.
The Rebels (7-3) will host the Dayton Flyers on Saturday in Oxford, Miss., and it will be a contest Davis and his squad cannot take lightly.
Dayton (7-4) is coming off a 62-57 home win over Virginia Tech on Sunday.
With wins earlier in the season over Miami and then-No. 4 Kansas, the Flyers improved to 3-0 over Power Six teams this season.
Ole Miss defeated Middle Tennessee State — Davis’ team for 16 seasons (2002-18) — on Wednesday, 62-52, using a stingy defense to limit the Raiders to 34.9% shooting from the floor and 11.1% from beyond the arc.
However, the Rebels’ offense also struggled, as they missed 16 of their 21 3-point attempts.
Daeshun Ruffin was strong in his return to action after breaking his hand on Nov. 9. In 13 minutes of action, he made 4 of 9 shots from the field and 4 of 6 from the line to net 12 points.
“You saw a glimpse of what (he) can do…and how much we missed him,” Davis said. “He’s been in contact just one day (in practice).”
The Flyers will counter with a defense that held Virginia Tech to 38.2 percent shooting and collected nine steals.
In that victory, they got a career-high 19 points from R.J. Blakney, who was 5-for-5 from 3-point range and posted six rebounds and three steals.
Dayton used a 12-3 second-half run to take control (47-29) and despite some late runs by the Hokies, never let them get closer than five points.
Senior Elijah Weaver said the Flyers’ youth is a driving force.
“Every day — because they’re so young and they’re hungry — they bring a new energy,” said Weaver, who has helped Dayton win six of its past seven games. “They’re just trying to get after it and trying to learn. It’s fun being around that.”
Freshman DaRon Holmes II was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week after he averaged 11 points and seven rebounds against SMU and the Hokies.
–Field Level Media