No. 24 Butler takes on Ole Miss after Rebels debacle

The Associated Press

After knocking off Missouri and Stanford in consecutive days last week, Butler received a Cyber Monday gift with a No. 24 ranking. The Bulldogs (7-0) enter Tuesday's road showdown at Mississippi with the goal of earning another signature victory.

Butler was last ranked at No. 21 on March 13, 2017, a span of 43 consecutive polls.

Butler also defeated Minnesota on Nov. 12, so that adds up to wins over a school from the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten, plus the championship trophy from the 2019 Hall of Fame Classic. The Bulldogs enter a pivotal stretch, as they also host Florida on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

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Butler senior guard Kamar Baldwin, a preseason All-Big East First-Team selection, is off to a solid start, averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. The 6-foot-1 Baldwin was named the Hall of Fame Classic MVP after scoring 17 of his team's final 20 points to finish with 22 points against Stanford.

Baldwin drilled a pull-up jumper 5.4 seconds left for the game-winner in the 68-67 triumph over Stanford.

"He does this every day at practice," Butler coach LaVall Jordan told reporters of Baldwin. "He's the same competitor and he's a winner. He's an everyday guy and puts in the work. We have a ton of trust in him."

The Bulldogs enter the nonconference showdown against Ole Miss with plenty of rest. They haven't played in a week, but one of their main strengths is a solid defense. Opponents are shooting just 26.3 percent on 3-pointers and 40.7 percent overall.

Mississippi (5-2) will look to rely on its home-court advantage to knock off the Bulldogs, who will be playing in their first true road game this season. Ole Miss is coming off a 78-37 defeat to Oklahoma State in the NIT Tip-off on Friday. The Rebels open a three-game homestand looking to shake off the memory of scoring a mere 15 points in the first half, shooting 1-for-20 overall on 3s and committing 20 turnovers against the Cowboys.

The blowout loss spoiled any momentum built from a 21-point comeback win over Penn State on Nov. 27.

"We didn't have a very good day of preparation," Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. "Leadership was bad. I take full credit. It's embarrassing and disappointing ... We didn't compete very hard."

The Rebels entered the Oklahoma State game averaging nearly 75 points per game and shooting 45.2 percent from the field, so maybe it was a one-game aberration.

Breein Tyree and Blake Hinson are two players to watch against the Bulldogs. They combined for 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting in the loss to Oklahoma State. Tyree, a senior guard, is averaging a team-high 15.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Hinson has made seven of his 17 3-point attempts and averaging 12.3 points.

As a team, the Rebels are shooting 30.9 percent on 3s and averaging 69.4 points per game.

--Field Level Media

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