Mississippi and Stanford meet on the basketball floor for the first time Thursday afternoon when they tip off in the ESPN Events Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
At stake is a berth in the tournament semifinals Friday against either Florida State or Siena. The loser will shift over to the consolation bracket for games Friday and Sunday.
The Rebels (4-0) have benefited from the long-range shooting of Matthew Murrell en route to posting four straight home wins. The highest-rated prospect in school history already has connected on 14 3-pointers as part of a team-leading 17.8 points per game.
Mississippi has surrounded the junior with veteran newcomers this season, led by Loyola-New Orleans transfer Myles Burns. The senior has been a force at both ends of the floor, averaging 3.0 offensive rebounds and 3.3 steals.
The Rebels feature three other senior transfers -- Jayveous McKinnis, Josh Mballa and Theo Akwuba -- with newcomers accounting for more than half the team's minutes so far and nearly half the scoring.
Mississippi also has benefited from the return of forward Robert Allen, whose career was considered to be in jeopardy when he sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2021-22. 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 that I went through more mentally than physically. Going through something like this has been just very big for me."
Stanford (2-2) counters with a top prospect of its own, but one who is off to a slow start.
Sophomore forward Harrison Ingram, considered to be a possible NBA draft pick at the end of last season, has yet to score more than 11 points in any game this year.
Ingram is coming off a season-low, five-point outing 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 is averaging 7.3 points on 34.5-percent shooting from the floor.
The Cardinal has shot just 31.8 percent on 3-pointers in the four games.
"It's going to take a lot more to shake my belief in the fact that we are a good shooting team," Stanford coach Jerod Haase insisted. "In practice, in the workouts with the guys, I do think we are very, very capable. As time goes on, I think we're going to see those percentages rise and I'm fully confident in that."
--Field Level Media
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