Rebels Face Road Test On The Plains

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Nick Williams (photo by Robert Jordan)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Nick Williams (photo by Robert Jordan)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Jan. 12, 2012

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GAME 17: Ole Miss (11-5, 1-1 SEC) at Auburn (10-6, 0-2 SEC)
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 | 12:30 p.m. CT
Auburn, Ala. | Auburn Arena (9,600)


MEDIA
Television: SEC Network (Dave Lamont, play-by-play; Kara Lawson, analyst).
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst).
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 216, XM 199
Live Video: ESPN3.comLive Audio: RebelVision
Gametracker

QUICK HITS

Andy Kennedy has the most wins by a Rebel coach in his first six years (116).
• Ole Miss ranks 40th in the RPI with the 41st strength of schedule (RealTimeRPI.com).
• Auburn leads the all-time series 72-50, but Ole Miss has won three of the last four meetings.
• Ole Miss is 2-3 in true road games this year (Wins - DePaul, Penn State; Losses - So. Miss, Dayton, LSU)
• As a team, Ole Miss ranks 14th in the most recent NCAA rankings with 5.8 blocks/game.
• Ole Miss is 9-1 when its opponent shoots below 40 percent from the field.
• The Rebels are 7-1 when they win the turnover battle and 4-4 when they have more turnovers than the opponent.
• Junior F Murphy Holloway returned from a 3-game absence (sprained ankle) with a monster game against Arkansas (19 points, 14 rebounds). Ole Miss is 10-2 this year when Holloway plays the whole game.
• Junior F Reginald Buckner broke the school’s all-time career blocks record at Southern Miss. He now leads all active SEC players with 195 career blocks. He ranks 3rd in the SEC and 26th nationally with 2.6 blocks/game.
Jarvis Summers ranks third among SEC freshmen in assists and second in free-throw attempts.
• Junior G Nick Williams had a season-high 18 points and career high-tying 8 boards against Arkansas.

ROAD TEST ON THE PLAINS
Ole Miss will bring its 11-5 overall record and 1-1 SEC mark to the Auburn Arena on Saturday for a road test against the Tigers. Ole Miss bounced back from a league-opening loss at LSU with a 71-63 win over Arkansas on Wednesday in Oxford. Murphy Holloway returned from a three-game absence (ankle) and posted 19 points and 14 rebounds, as well as energizing the rest of the Rebels’ squad. Ole Miss is 2-3 in true road games this season.

MOVIN’ ON UP
Following Wednesday’s win over Arkansas, Ole Miss ranks No. 40 in the nation in RPI, according to RealTimeRPI.com. Ole Miss has played the nation’s No. 41 ranked schedule and has faced 10 teams with RPIs of 150 or better (5-5 in those games).

SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Auburn is 10-6 overall this season, one shy of its win total from Tony Barbee’s first year at the helm in 2010-11. The Tigers are 0-2 in league play with a road loss at Vanderbilt (65-35) and home loss to No. 2 Kentucky (68-53). The Tigers have a +0.6 point differential for the season, averaging 65.4 ppg to their opponents’ 64.8. A balanced offensive attack features five players averaging 9.0+ ppg. Kenny Gabriel leads the way with 11.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Frankie Sullivan adds 11.1 ppg, Chris Denson 10.8 ppg, Rob Chubb 10.0 ppg and Varez Ward 9.0 ppg. Like Ole Miss, Auburn is one of the country’s top shot-blocking teams, averaging 5.8 blocks per outing. Gabriel ranks second in the SEC with 2.8 bpg.

OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES
Saturday’s game will be the 123rd meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1928. The Tigers hold an all-time series lead of 72-50, including a 48-11 advantage in Auburn. Ole Miss had won three straight in the series before Auburn’s 76-73 home win on March 2, 2011, despite Dundrecous Nelson’s Rebel freshman record 30 points in that contest. Andy Kennedy is 6-4 in his career against Auburn.

ALABAMA REBELS
Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their “sweet home.” Junior guard Nick Williams is a native of Mobile and was the 2008 6A State Player of the Year. Assistant coach Bill Armstrong is from Birmingham and played collegiately at UAB, while coordinator of basketball operations Robi Coker hails from Skirum. In addition, head coach Andy Kennedy spent three years playing at UAB and later served assistant coaching stints for both the Blazers and the South Alabama Jaguars.

MOST WINS IN FIRST SIX SEASONS
With the victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, Andy Kennedy surpassed Rod Barnes for the most wins (114) in the first six seasons as Ole Miss head coach. Now with 116 wins, Kennedy already ranks third in school history behind B.L. “Country” Graham (144 wins in 13 seasons) and Barnes (141 wins in 8 seasons).

LOCKING DOWN ON “D”
Ole Miss has played some impressive defensive games this season. Six different times the Rebels have held their opponent below 60 points, including a pair of games under 40. Most recently, the Rebels limited Arkansas to 63 points, which was one point from their season low of 62. The defense also came through in a 50-48 win over SMU on Jan. 3. The Rebels rank fifth in the SEC in field goal percentage defense at 39.4. Ole Miss is 9-1 when the opponent shoots below 40 percent from the field.

SIZE ADVANTAGE
Ole Miss is taking advantage of its significant height and length advantage against the majority of its opponents this year. No scholarship player on the roster is listed shorter than 6-4, while six Rebels who see significant minutes are listed at 6-7 or taller. Ole Miss ranks second among SEC teams in rebounding average (39.2) and fourth in rebounding margin (+3.8). The Rebels block 5.8 shots per game, ranking third in the league and 14th in the most recent NCAA rankings.

TURNOVERS MATTER
Ole Miss has a 7-1 record when it records the same or fewer turnovers than its opponent, while the Rebels are 4-4 when they lose the turnover battle.

BALANCED ATTACK
Seven different players have led Ole Miss in scoring at least once this year, topped by Terrance Henry’s total of five times. Ten different players are averaging 8+ minutes per game at this juncture, while nine players average 10+ minutes per outing.

THE HOLLOWAY FACTOR
Ole Miss really missed the presence of junior F Murphy Holloway after he sprained his ankle in the second half against Middle Tennessee (Dec. 21). The Rebels went on to drop that contest and two of the next three without him. He returned against Arkansas to score 19 points, grab 14 rebounds and effectively energize his teammates in leading the Rebels to victory. Ole Miss is 10-2 this year when Holloway plays the whole game.

HOLLOWAY RETURNS WITH BIG NUMBERS
Junior F Murphy Holloway has posted some big numbers in his return to Ole Miss this year (following a one-year stint in South Carolina) and averages 10.6 ppg and 9.9 rpg (3rd in SEC). He ranks 25th nationally in rebounding. He is tied for third among SEC players with five double-doubles this year and ranks second among active league players with 19 in his career. He was the SEC Player of the Week after helping Ole Miss to wins over TCU and Miami.

BUCKNER SETS ALL-TIME SCHOOL BLOCKS RECORD
With four blocks at Southern Miss, junior F Reginald Buckner surpassed Sean Murphy as the Rebels’ all-time career leader in blocked shots. In just 78 games, the Memphis native now has accumulated 195 blocks. The school record was previously held by Murphy, who had 180 blocks in 117 games from 1988-91. Buckner’s 2.6 blocks average this season ranks third among SEC players and 26th in the most recent NCAA rankings. His 195 career blocks are most among active SEC players and 22nd most all-time. With five more, he will be the 21st player in league history with 200. He already holds the school record for blocks in a season and game.

IN THE “NICK” OF TIME
Junior G Nick Williams brought his A-game against Arkansas, tallying a season-high 18 points and tying a career high with 8 rebounds to help the Rebels to victory. Coming off the bench for the first time this season, his tenacity was evident in each of his successful drives to the hoop, and the Rebels’ top free-throw shooter knocked down 4 of 5 from the line, as well. He tied for the team high with 34 minutes played against the Hogs.

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