OXFORD — With the amount of time he’s missed during the 2022-23 season, Ole Miss sophomore guard Daeshun Ruffin knows it would be easy to press.
But he also knows regaining his previous form is an ongoing process.
Ruffin got off to a stellar collegiate start, proving to be one of the Southeastern Conference’s top freshmen last season. He averaged 12.6 points per game but suffered a season-ending knee injury at LSU in February. In his final four games of 2021-22, Ruffin averaged 16.8 points per game.
Rehabbing the injury didn’t have him cleared for full-contact workouts until just before this season started. He then suffered a bone bruise in his knee, which caused him to miss the Rebels’ first seven games. Ruffin also missed two games with an illness, returning to action in the Rebels’ (9-10, 1-6 SEC) loss at Arkansas. He’s played in 10 games with one start.
With Ruffin in and out of the lineup, true freshmen guards Amaree Abram and T.J. Caldwell have picked up the bulk of time at point guard. They are averaging eight and 4.7 points per game, respectively.
Ruffin is still trying to find his dynamic play from a year ago — he’s averaging 8.7 points this year in 17.3 minutes per game. He scored 10 points in the loss at Arkansas but hit a pair of key 3-pointers during a late Rebels run that made things more competitive late.
Ole Miss hosts Missouri (14-5, 3-4) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at SJB Pavilion.
“I mean, you definitely want to get back to the way you were before, or the way you were feeling before,” Ruffin said. “But for me personally, it’s just about getting better each and every game and each and every day, win, lose or draw. … (We) definitely want to win, but for me personally, it’s just about getting better each and every day.”
There is potentially going to be more on Ruffin’s and his teammates’ plates going forward, depending on the severity of leading scorer Matthew Murrell’s right knee injury. The junior guard left Saturday’s game in the second half and did not return. Murrell is the only Rebel averaging double figures in scoring.
Missouri is off to a strong start this season under new head coach Dennis Gates, previously the head coach at Cleveland State. Four different Missouri players are averaging at least 10 points per, led by forward Kobe Brown’s 15.7.
Missouri has one of the most prolific scoring offenses in college basketball, ranking second in the SEC and 13th nationally at 83.1 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting from the field (35th). The Tigers shoot a lot of 3-pointers as well, averaging nearly 26 attempts per game.
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