Ole Miss and Valparaiso have met only twice before, but there is history behind their meeting Saturday afternoon in Oxford, Miss.
It is just four months shy of 25 years ago when the two teams played a game that continues to live in NCAA Tournament lore.
Down 69-67 in their first-round meeting, 13th-seeded Valparaiso upset fourth-seeded Ole Miss after Bill Jenkins quickly directed a long in-bounds pass to Bryce Drew in the closing seconds, and the latter swished a 3-pointer as time expired. The play is known as “The Shot.”
Chances are you’ll see a video replay on television before just about any NCAA Tournament game next March, or you can just go online and enter Drew’s name.
The Beacons followed up that game with an 83-77 overtime win versus Florida State to advance to the Sweet 16.
No such prize will be on the line this meeting, but the Rebels (6-2) will be looking to stop a two-game slide after losses to Oklahoma and Memphis. Valparaiso (4-6), in turn, is hoping build momentum and enter Missouri Valley Conference play on a two-game winning streak.
Saturday’s game starts a stretch of five consecutive home games for the Rebels, who open Southeastern Conference play against visiting Tennessee on Dec. 28.
“We’ve kind of called it our third ‘season’,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “Nothing’s ever life or death in the regular season, but with Valpo obviously a big game for us after a tough loss and then Central Florida, Temple, and North Alabama these next two weeks before the Christmas break and how much progress we can make, it’s a big homestand for us.”
Forward Ben Krikke leads three double-figure scorers for Valparaiso with his 20.5 average, but junior college transfer guard Nick Edwards may be a player to watch.
Edwards has just a 6.9 average but scored 21 in the 96-60 romp over Trinity Christian in the Beacons’ last outing. He also hit the winning basket in an 81-79 win over James Madison earlier in the season.
“He can be that next scorer that we’re looking for,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said.
–Field Level Media