GAME NOTES: Rivalry Opens SEC Play In Oxford
SEC OPENER: #14/16 Ole Miss (12-2) vs. Mississippi State (12-3)
IN-STATE RIVALS OPEN SEC PLAY
Conference play gets underway Saturday with an in-state, in-division rivalry game between the SEC West's projected top two teams in No. 14 Ole Miss and Mississippi State. MSU was picked by the league media to finish atop the West with Ole Miss second, and the two teams enter league play with the best overall records in the division - the Rebels are 12-2 and the Bulldogs are 12-3. Ole Miss enters league play with its best non-conference record since it was 13-0 in 2007-08. The Rebels have been on fire from downtown in their last two outings, tying a school record with 25 3-pointers in the two-game span. The Rebels are on a two-game winning streak with victories over Jacksonville State and UCF, while the Bulldogs had their nine-game win streak snapped with a loss at Western Kentucky on Tuesday.
- Ole Miss' No. 14 ranking in the AP poll is its highest national ranking since finishing at No. 9 in 2001. The Rebels are also No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
- Saturday's game will be the 240th meeting in the SEC's most-played rivalry, with the Bulldogs holding an all-time series lead of 134-105.
- The Rebels have an overall record of 26-50 in SEC openers and 37-39 in SEC home openers.
- Kennedy has directed Ole Miss to a 52-7 home record in his four seasons at the helm.
- At 84.2 ppg, Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks 11th in the nation in scoring offense.
- The Rebels have tied a school record with 25 3-pointers in their last two games and rank second in the SEC with 9.0 triples per contest.
- Junior point guard Chris Warren became the 31st player in school history to reach 1,000 points during the UCF game. He ranks sixth in the SEC with 16.9 ppg.
- Reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Terrico White ranks fourth in the league with 17.3 ppg and has scored 50 points with 12 3-pointers in his last two games.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Mississippi State enters SEC play with a 12-3 record. The Bulldogs had their nine-game winning streak snapped with a 55-52 loss at Western Kentucky in their most recent outing. Rick Stansbury's team features one of the nation's top defenses, allowing an SEC-best 58.5 ppg to opponents and entering the week ranked second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (33.1 percent). The Bulldogs also rank third in the nation in blocks per game (8.1) and second in the country with 9.9 3-pointers per game. Ravern Johnson averages a team-high 14.5 ppg, while Jarvis Varnado is one of two SEC players to average a double-double with 14.3 ppg and 10.9 rpg. Barry Stewart adds 11.1 ppg and Dee Bost adds 10.7.
OLE MISS-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES
Saturday's game will be the 240th meeting between the two schools, with the Bulldogs holding an all-time series lead of 134-105 in the SEC's most-played rivalry. The teams have split the season series each of the last four years. Last season, each team won on the opponents' home court (first time since 1955 that had happened), while the previous three years saw the home team claim victory each time. MSU won 82-80 in Oxford in the regular season finale a year ago, despite a game-high 21 points and halfcourt heave at the buzzer by Terrico White.
The Rebels hold a 77-41 series advantage in games played in Oxford and have taken nine of the last 14 and three of the last four at Tad Smith Coliseum.
REBELS IN SEC OPENERS
The Rebels have an overall record of 26-50 in Southeastern Conference openers in their previous 76 years of play in the league. The Rebels are looking for their first league-opening win under head coach Andy Kennedy. Ole Miss dropped a 78-68 decision at Florida a year ago. The Rebels are opening SEC play at home for just the third time in the last 12 seasons. The last SEC opening win came in 2005-06 when the Rebels beat Alabama 71-61 in Tuscaloosa.
Ole Miss is opening SEC play against Mississippi State for the first time since 2004 and just the sixth time in school history (2003-04, 1991-92, 1948-49, 1944-45, 1938-39), while it marks only the third time for MSU to open league play with the Rebels (2003-04, 1938-39).
OLE MISS IN SEC HOME OPENERS
The Rebels have an overall record of 37-39 in their first SEC home game of the year. Ole Miss beat Arkansas 74-65 in last year's league home opener and has prevailed in three of the last four.
IN THE POLLS
Ole Miss is nationally ranked for the fifth straight week, coming in at No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. The No. 14 ranking is the team's highest since it was No. 9 in the final coaches poll of the 2000-01 season.
Mississippi State is receiving votes in both polls.
WARREN JOINS 1,000-POINT CLUB
With 14 points against UCF, junior point guard Chris Warren became the 31st player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Warren enters the Mississippi State game with 1,006 career points. He reached 1,000 points in his 60th career game, which is tied for the fifth-fastest pace in school history with all-time leading scorer John Stroud. Gerald Glass is the fastest Rebel to reach the milestone, doing so in 37 games.
WARREN NAMED FINALIST FOR COUSY AWARD
Junior Chris Warren is one of 20 finalists for the 2010 Bob Cousy Award (nation's top point guard), the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday. The list will be narrowed down to a final 10 by Feb. 1 and final five by March 1.
DEFENDING HOME COURT
Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy's squads since he took the reins in 2006-07. Ole Miss is 52-7 (.881 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including an 8-0 mark this year.
Ole Miss has won 183 of its last 222 games (.824 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 416-186 (.691 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
Ole Miss ranks first in the SEC and 11th in the country with an average of 84.2 points per game. Fast-break buckets, slashing drives and a nice outside touch have been key components to such a prolific offense. The team has put up 80+ points in 10 of 14 games, 90+ in five contests and a season-high 108 against Centenary. Ole Miss has posted a 40+ point half in every game this season. Five players average 10 or more ppg, led by Terrico White's 17.3 average and Chris Warren's 16.9 average.
LONG-RANGE SHOOTING BREAKS RECORDS
With 25 3-pointers in its last two outings, Ole Miss has tied the school record for most treys in a two-game span, which was originally set in the first two games of the 2007-08 campaign. Ole Miss tied a school record by knocking down 14 long-range shots against Jacksonville State (led by Terrico White's career-high seven) and then drained 11 more against UCF on Tuesday (led by five from White and four from Chris Warren).
CLIMBING THE CAREER TREY CHART
Junior guard Chris Warren has climbed the Ole Miss career 3-point chart at a record pace and has moved into fourth place all-time with 170 treys in 60 career outings (2.8 per game).
WARREN BACK TO HIS OLD WAYS
He set the Ole Miss record for 3-pointers in a season as a freshman and then averaged 19.6 ppg as a sophomore before being injured. Now, Chris Warren is providing his magic again. The junior point guard currently ranks sixth in the SEC with 16.9 ppg and third with 3.0 3-pointers per game. He reached 1,000 career points when he scored 14 (with 4 3-pointers) against UCF. He posted his third straight 20-point game with a career-high 32 (5-of-10 3's, 13-of-15 FT's) - with 11 points in overtime - in the win over UTEP. He poured in 20 points, including a clutch pair of three's in the final minute, in the comeback win over Southern Miss, while adding six assists. He was named to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after he led all scorers in San Juan with a 22.3 average. He had 16 in the win over Indiana before putting together back-to-back 20-point games against Kansas State (27) and No. 5 Villanova (24).
WHITE MAKES SCORING LOOK EASY
With his laid-back, smooth approach on offense, sometimes Terrico White's eye-popping scoring totals can take a person by surprise. The sophomore guard is averaging 17.3 ppg, which is fourth-best among SEC players. He poured in 21 points with 5 3-pointers against UCF. He tied a career high with 29 points vs. Jacksonville State, draining a career-high 7 3's and grabbing 7 boards. He led all scorers with 17 points in a rout of Centenary. He tallied 19 points, including 8-of-10 from the foul line, in the OT win over UTEP. He had 15 points with a pair of treys against Southern Miss. He poured in 25 points in a win over Kansas State and dropped in 19 points three times (vs. Alabama State, vs. Texas A&M-CC and at Arkansas State). He posted 14 points and a career-high 9 rebounds vs. No. 5 Villanova.
Junior guard Zach Graham has turned into one of the Rebels' most consistent and dependable weapons on the offensive and defensive end. The Suwanee, Ga., native has tallied 12 or more points in seven of the last eight games. For the season, he is shooting 46.1 percent from the field (47-102) and 43.6 percent from downtown (24-55), while also playing lock-down defense on the perimeter. He had 14 points and 4 assists against Jacksonville State. He scored a team-high 14 at West Virginia. He had 12 points vs. Centenary, while also dishing out a career-high 5 assists. Had 14 points to go with 7 boards in OT win over UTEP. He contributed 12 points and 5 rebounds vs. McNeese State. He tied a career high with 4 3-pointers en route to 15 points vs. Southern Miss. He dropped in a season-high 17 points in the win at Arkansas State, connecting on a career-high 4 3-pointers.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
- Reginald Buckner: Tied for third among SEC players and tops among league freshmen with 2.3 blocks per game ... Also ranked second among all freshmen in the nation in blocks per game entering the week ... His 32 blocks through 14 games are 14 shy of Sean Murphy's school freshman record (46 in 1987-88) and 24 shy of David Dean's school record (56 in 1992-93) ... 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks vs. Jacksonville State ... Season-high 11 points (5-of-6 FG's) with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in the OT win over UTEP ... Made his first career start vs. A&M-Corpus Christi and scored 8 points ... Season-high 12 rebounds with 3 blocks vs. Indiana ... Posted 7 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks vs. Alabama State ... Had 4 blocks and 4 rebounds in collegiate debut vs. UALR ... Tennessee high school record holder for career blocked shots.
- DeAundre Cranston: 8 points, 6 rebounds vs. Centenary ... Posted 8 points and 5 rebounds vs. McNeese State ... Career-high 21 points (8-9 FGs, 3-4 3-pters) with 7 boards in season opener.
- Trevor Gaskins: Career-high 7 rebounds vs. Jacksonville State ... Set a career high with 4 steals at West Virginia ... 7 points and 4 assists vs. Centenary ... Played in his first game since 2007-08 after missing last year with injury and scored 7 points with 3 boards and 3 assists in opener.
- Terrance Henry: Near double-double with 9 points and 8 boards vs. UCF .... Blocked six shots against the Knights, a career high and tied for the fourth-highest game total in school history ... Had 9 points and 6 boards vs. Centenary ... Made his first 10 field-goal attempts of the season, including 3-of-3 from downtown, before missing a trey against McNeese State ... Career-high 12 points (5-of-5 FGs) vs. Texas A&M-CC ... Returned from injury to post 2 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 5 minutes of play in his first action of the season vs. Indiana ... Injured his hand slipping on stairs on campus and missed the first two games.
- Murphy Holloway: Shooting a team-best 63.4 percent from the field ... Ranks 7th in the SEC with 7.0 rebounds/game and 29th with 11.5 ppg ... Posted his third double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds vs. UCF ... 13 points (6-of-7 FGs) at West Virginia ... Turned in 12 points and 5 rebounds against Centenary ... Tallied 13 points and 5 boards against McNeese State ... Missed the Texas A&M-CC game while resting an ankle injury, but returned to tally 9 points and a season-high 13 rebounds at Arkansas State ... 10 points and 10 rebounds against Kansas State, his second double-double of the year ... Posted a career-high 26 points against Indiana at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, finishing 12-for-18 from the floor and pulling down seven rebounds ... 17 points, 10 boards in opener vs. UALR.
- Eniel Polynice: Averages 10.6 ppg, 4.1 rebounds/game, 4.6 assists/game (5th SEC) and 1.5 steals/game ... Enters MSU game needing two steals to reach 100 for his career ... 16 points, 5 assists vs. UCF ... 9 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists vs. Jacksonville State ... 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists at West Virginia ... 13 points, 6 assists vs. Centenary ... Tied season high with 8 rebounds in OT win over UTEP ... Came up big in late rally vs. McNeese State to finish with 12 points and tie career highs with 9 assists and 4 steals ... Had 15 points, 6 assists and the game-winning dunk with 1.3 seconds left vs. Southern Miss ... Against Kansas State he put up 13 points, 5 boards and 2 steals ... Against Indiana, he posted 10 points, 7 assists, 2 blocks and a steal ... Against Alabama State, he had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals and a block.
- DeAngelo Riley: Against Centenary, posted 6 points, 3 assists, 2 boards and 2 blocks ... Made his Rebel debut in the opener and had 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 10 minutes of action.
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