OXFORD, Miss. - Chris Warren scored 22 points and handed out six assists as Ole Miss easily handled East Tennessee State 71-50 on Saturday.
Warren was 7 of 13 from the field, including 6 of 12 from 3-point range. Reginald Buckner added 16 points and blocked seven shots -- both career highs. Zach Graham came off the bench to score 14 points.
ETSU, which has played in the past two NCAA Tournaments, had already surprised one Southeastern Conference team this season, beating Mississippi State 63-62 on the Bulldogs' home court on Dec. 11. But the Buccaneers were buried from the start against Ole Miss, falling behind 13-0 in the opening minutes.
ETSU pulled within five points at 31-26 late in the first half, but the Rebels scored the next nine points to take a 40-26 halftime lead. The Buccaneers had a size advantage, but Ole Miss countered with a small, quick lineup, which was led by Warren's 12 points and five assists in the first half.
Ole Miss (7-2) led by double digits the entire second half.
Warren came into the game averaging more than 18 points per game, so his hot shooting wasn't a surprise. But Buckner's offensive performance was a rare sight -- and it's something that the post-starved Rebels would love to see more of as SEC play approaches.
Buckner scored almost all of his points at point-blank range, sneaking behind ETSU's zone defense and catching passes for easy dunks or layups.
On defense, the 6-foot-8 sophomore provided his usual intimidating presence in the paint. He set the school's record for blocks by a freshman last season and is on pace to shatter the career mark.
Mike Smith scored 18 points to lead the Buccaneers, making 10 of 11 free throws in the process. Isiah Brown added 12 points. ETSU (5-4) shot just 31.4 percent from the field.
The Buccaneers had the rebounding edge, 40-35. Both teams will play their next three games in the Cancun Governor's Cup in Mexico starting on Dec. 22.
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