Mississippi and Stanford meet for the first time on the basketball floor Thursday afternoon when they tip at the ESPN Events Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
At stake is a place in Friday’s semifinals against Florida State or Siena. The loser moves on to the consolation round for the games on Friday and Sunday.
The Rebels (4-0) have benefited from Matthew Murrell’s long-range effort on their way to four straight home wins. The highest-scoring prospect in school history has already scored 14 3-pointers as part of a team-leading 17.8-pointer game.
Mississippi has surrounded the junior with experienced newcomers this season, led by Loyola-New Orleans transfer Myles Burns. The senior was a force at both ends of the court, averaging 3.0 offensive rebounds and 3.3 steals.
The Rebels have three other high-profile transfers – Jayveous McKinnis, Josh Mballa and Theo Akwuba – with newcomers accounting for more than half of the team’s minutes and almost half of its goals so far.
Mississippi has also benefited from the return of forward Robert Allen, whose career was considered jeopardized when he sustained a knee injury late in the 2021-22 season. He currently leads the team in rebounding (5.8) while ranking second to Murrell in scoring (9.3).
“I’m proud of myself,” Allen said. “Just going through the things I’ve been through more mentally than physically. Going through something like that was just really big for me.”
Stanford (2:2) counters with their own top prospect, which is off to a slow start.
Sophomore forward Harrison Ingram, who was considered a possible NBA draft pick at the end of last season, has yet to score more than 11 points in a game this year.
Ingram is off a season-low five points in the Cardinal’s 80-43 home win over Cal Poly last Friday, in which he shot just 2 for 6 from the field. He averages 7.3 points on 34.5 percent shots from the ground.
The Cardinal has shot just 31.8 percent at 3-pointers over the four games.
“It’s going to take a lot more to shake my belief that we’re a good shooting team,” said Stanford coach Jerod Haase. “In practice, in training with the guys, I think we’re very, very capable. Over time we will see those percentages increase and I am very confident of that.”