GAME 18: Ole Miss (10-7, 1-2) at Alabama (11-6, 1-2)
Wednesday 01.21.09 | 7 p.m. CT
Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Coleman Coliseum (15,316)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
XM Radio: Channel 200
REBELS HIT THE ROAD FOR DATE WITH TIDE
Ole Miss will look to bounce back into the win column against a third straight SEC Western Division foe as the Rebels travel to Alabama on Wednesday. It is the first of a pair of upcoming road games. Ole Miss will visit South Carolina on Saturday. The Rebels suffered an 83-51 defeat to LSU in their most recent outing, bringing their league record to 1-2 after a 78-68 loss at Florida and a 74-65 home win over Arkansas. Andy Kennedy’s squad has actually alternated between one win and one loss for 12 straight games dating back to a win over Morgan State on Nov. 29. Freshman guard Terrico White has posted back-to-back career-high scoring efforts with 18 points against the Razorbacks and 22 against the Tigers, both team game highs. Fellow rookie Murphy Holloway has contributed double-figure points in each of the last four games.
INJURIES PILING UP IN UNPRECEDENTED FASHION
To call the 2008-09 Ole Miss basketball season “injury-plagued” would be an understatement. Before conference play began, the Rebels were already down three key members of the backcourt to season-ending knee injuries. In an 11-day stretch during the first two weeks of play, the Rebels lost sophomore Trevor Gaskins (torn ACL in left knee) and junior Eniel Polynice (extensive cartilage damage and loose fragments in left knee). And then on Dec. 18, sophomore point guard Chris Warren suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on the Rebels’ last offensive possession of the 77-68 loss to No. 9 Louisville.
Gaskins and Polynice are both in the midst of their rehab programs, while Warren underwent a successful surgery last week. All three are expected to be ready before the start of next season.
The team is applying for, and expects to be granted, medical hardship waivers for Gaskins and Polynice, which would give each an extra year of eligibility, while it is doubtful that Warren will be eligible for the medical redshirt based on the number of games he had already played (11).
All three were primed to be key components of a Rebel backcourt touted by at least one preseason publication (Blue Ribbon Yearbook) as the best in the SEC. Warren goes out as the league’s fourth-leading scorer at 19.6 ppg and also ranking in the top 10 in assists, steals, free-throw percentage, three-pointers and assist-turnover ratio, while claiming the SEC’s top spot with 34.4 minutes played per game. Polynice averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 34 games last year and was known as the team’s best defender, while Gaskins was a member of the SEC All-Freshman team with Warren.
SCOUTING THE CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama enters Wednesday’s contest with an 11-6 overall record and 1-2 mark in SEC play. The Crimson Tide won their league opener against LSU (65-59) at home before dropping two straight road games at Mississippi State (83-74) and Auburn (85-71). Alabama boasts a 9-2 record at Coleman Coliseum so far this season. Mark Gottfried’s team averages 72.5 points per game and allows 66.0 points per contest to opponents, while it is also one of the top rebounding squads in the SEC averaging 39.9 boards per game. Senior wing Alonzo Gee paces the Tide with 14.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg, while sophomore Senario Hillman scores 13.6 ppg and senior point guard Ronald Steele averages 12.9 ppg. Steele, however, has missed the last two outings with a foot injury and is out indefinitely. Gottfried owns a 209-130 record (.617 win pct.) in his 11th season as the Alabama head coach. His career record is 277-154 (.643 win pct.) in his 14th season.
OLE MISS-ALABAMA SERIES
Wednesday’s game will be the 163rd meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide holds a 113-49 lead in the series, which began in 1921. Ole Miss won the last meeting 91-88 on March 1 of last season behind efforts of 25 points from Chris Warren, 24 from Dwayne Curtis and 18 from David Huertas. The teams have split their season series in nine of the last 10 years, including last season when the home team won each instance. Prior to the 2004-05 season, the home team prevailed in 13 straight bouts between the Rebels and Tide.
The Tide holds a 67-9 lead in games played in Tuscaloosa and has won nine of the last 10 at Coleman Coliseum. The last Ole Miss victory in Tuscaloosa came in 2006 when the Rebels prevailed 71-61.
Head coach Andy Kennedy owns a 2-2 record against Alabama, all coming during regular-season play while with Ole Miss.
Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their “sweet home”. Assistant coach Torrey Ward and coordinator of operations Bill Armstrong are both from Birmingham and played collegiately at UAB, while operations assistant Robi Coker hails from Skirum. Strength coach Matt Turner recently joined the Ole Miss staff after a one-year stint as the head strength coach at Alabama State University. 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.
FREE-THROW SHOOTING EXPLOITS
Ole Miss ranks second among Southeastern Conference teams and 16th in the nation with a 75.4 free-throw percentage. The Rebels set a school record with a 22-for-22 performance at the line against South Alabama and shot 93.8 percent (15-of-16) from the stripe against Morgan State and 93.3 percent (14-15) vs. Florida A&M. David Huertas ranks fifth in the SEC at 79.1 percent (87-of-110), while Zach Graham has only missed two free throws in 32 attempts (93.8 percent) and Terrance Henry is hitting at a 79.3 percent clip (23-of-29).
It is a marked improvement from a year ago, when the Rebels made just 65.1 percent of their attempts. In fact, Ole Miss has already doubled the games in which it shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe this year (6) compared to all of last season (3).
IMPROVING ON THE GLASS
Ole Miss struggled in its rebounding game throughout much of non-conference play after the Rebels ranked 12th in the nation a year ago when led by a senior-laden frontcourt. However, after three SEC games Ole Miss ranks third in the conference in rebounding offense (38.3/game), rebounding defense (34.0/game) and rebounding margin (+4.3) in league contests. Ole Miss dominated Florida on the glass with a 46-22 advantage. That rebounding margin of 24 was the second-largest by a Rebel squad this season (25 vs. Florida A&M on 12/22).
Freshman forward Murphy Holloway leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. He had a monster game on the glass vs. Florida A&M as he posted the Rebels’ first double-double of the year with 15 points and 16 boards. Sophomore forward Malcolm White is second on the squad with 5.0 boards per game and is averaging a team-high 6.3 per game in league play. Junior forward DeAundre Cranston and junior guard David Huertas have each had games with at least nine boards.
Ole Miss has played just one team this year that was nationally ranked at the time of the meeting (No. 9 Louisville), but across the board the Rebels have faced off against one of the toughest slates of opponents in the nation. Ole Miss’ strength of schedule is rated as high as No. 16 in the nation on CBSSports.com’s RPI list. With a 10-7 record, Ole Miss ranks No. 57 on the RPI list, third among SEC schools. Four teams the Rebels have already seen are ranked in the top 30 - Louisville (14), Florida (25), Utah (26) and West Virginia (29).
Ole Miss had already been forced to make backcourt adjustments after sophomore Trevor Gaskins and junior Eniel Polynice went down with season-ending injuries in the first two weeks of the season, but all-star point guard Chris Warren’s injury means even more changes have been needed. Only four scholarship guards remain on the roster - junior David Huertas, sophomore Zach Graham and freshmen Will Bogan and Terrico White. Bogan has earned his first career starts at the point in the last six games. White has played more minutes at the 1 position in the past three league games, while senior non-scholarship Patrick Spach has also seen some minutes as the primary ballhandler.
TERRICO TURNS IT UP A NOTCH
As freshman guard Terrico White is getting more and more comfortable in his duties at both the point guard and shooting guard spots, the Memphis native is pouring in more and more points. He enters Wednesday’s contest on the heels of back-to-back career-high scoring efforts with 18 points in the win over Arkansas and 22 points against LSU. The superb athlete who can makes plays above the rim also drained three field goals from downtown in each of those games. After three SEC contests, White tops the team and ranks seventh in the league with a 15.7 scoring average in league games.
TERRICO WHITE NAMED FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Memphis native Terrico White earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors on Monday following his career-best performances against Arkansas and LSU. The 6-foot-5 playmaker saw time at the 1 and 2 guard spots and poured in 18 and 22 points in the contests. He is the second Rebel to earn a weekly honor, as Murphy Holloway was named freshman of the week on Dec. 29.
HUERTAS CONSISTENT FROM DOWNTOWN
Junior guard David Huertas entered rare territory with his streak of 24 consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal, which came to an end when he did not connect from downtown against LSU. The Puerto Rico native owns the second-longest streak in Ole Miss history behind Aaron Harper’s 41-gamer and hopes to start a new one on Wednesday at Alabama. Listed below are the top three such streaks in school records:
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A 3-POINTER
1. 41 Aaron Harper (2000-01 to 2002-03)
2. 24 David Huertas (2007-08 to 2008-09)
3. 23 Joe Harvell (1990-91 to 1992-93)
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has been a scoring machine for the Rebels this season, averaging 18.7 points, good for third among SEC players and 50th in the nation. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in nine contests. He had 20 agianst No. 9 Louisville and set or tied career highs with 8 free-throws, 2 blocks and 4 steals against the Cardinals. He ranks third in the SEC in 3’s per game (2.6) and second in 3-point percentage (38.8). Against South Alabama, he poured in a season-high 27 points and tied his career high with 7 three’s, which is also tied for the second-highest single-game total in school history. Huertas’ production was kick-started by his finish last year, when he was instrumental in the Rebels’ run to the NIT Semifinals, averaging 16.1 points, 5.0 rebs and 4.0 three’s over the final 8 games. He ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories this year, as listed below:
Huertas’ SEC Ranks (AS OF 1/19)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 3rd/50th 18.7/game
Rebounding 30th 4.5/game
FG Percentage 15th 43.7
FT Percentage 5th 79.1
3-pt FG Percentage 2nd 38.8
3-pt FGs Made 3rd 2.6/game
Minutes Played 4th 32.3/game
RECORDS THAT WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
In just their second season playing for the Red and Blue, Chris Warren and David Huertas have both moved up Ole Miss’ career three-point charts at a break-neck pace. With 25 treys this year, Warren eclipsed Clarence Sanders for seventh place on the all-time list with 128. Huertas has knocked down 45 from long range and is now in ninth place in the Rebel records with 120.
OLE MISS CAREER THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS
1. 278 Aaron Harper (123 games, 2001-04)
2. 249 Keith Carter (117 games, 1996-1999)
3. 214 Joe Harvell (114 games, 1990-93)
4. 163 Jason Harrison (132 games, 1999-02)
5. 158 Todd Abernethy (122 games, 2004-07)
6. 131 Joezon Darby (81 games, 1996-98)
7. 128 Chris Warren (46 games, 2008-present)
8. 127 Clarence Sanders (60 games, 2006-07)
9. 120 David Huertas (52 games, 2008-present)
REBEL “D” SHUTS DOWN NICHOLLS
Ole Miss produced one of its best defensive efforts in recent years in the 53-41 win over Nicholls on Jan. 3. The 41 points allowed was the lowest point total allowed by a Rebel team in three seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy and the fewest given up since a 71-38 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 28, 2002. The Rebels also held the Colonels to 30.6 percent shooting from the field and 19.2 percent from beyond the arc. The 30.6 field-goal percentage is tied for the second-lowest allowed by a Rebel team in Kennedy’s three years (25.5 - Miss. Valley St. on Nov. 10, 2006).
The previous low point total by a Rebel opponent in Kennedy’s tenure was 46 by UCF in a 78-46 Rebel win on Nov. 26 earlier this season.
HOLLOWAY EARNS SEC FRESHMAN HONOR
After posting career highs of 15 points and 16 boards vs. Florida A&M, forward Murphy Holloway was named the SEC Freshman of the Week by the league office on Dec. 29. His double-double against the Rattlers was the first by a Rebel this season. He is the first Rebel to receive a weekly honor from the league office this season.
WARREN WAS PLAYING AT HIGH LEVEL
Sophomore point guard Chris Warren, a preseason All-SEC first team selection by league coaches, will miss the remainder of the season after an MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (as well as a minor MCL sprain, medial meniscus tear and lateral bone contusion) to his left knee. The injury occurred on a layup attempt on the Rebels’ last offensive possession of the 77-68 loss to No. 9 Louisville in Cincinnati on Dec. 18.
Through 11 games, the Orlando native was following up a sensational rookie campaign in which he broke the school’s three-point record and set the freshman scoring record by showing further improvement in several areas and ranking fourth in the SEC with 19.6 points per game. He also ranked among the top SEC players in several other categories at the time of his injury, as listed below:
Warren’s SEC Ranks (AS OF 12/19)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 4th/50th 19.6/game
Assists T-9th 4.0/game
FT Percentage 4th/45th 85.5
Steals 2nd/38th 2.5/game
3-pt FGs Made T-8th 2.3/game
Assist-Turnover Ratio 8th 1.6
Minutes Played 1st 34.4/game
STARTING LINEUP = REVOLVING DOOR
Injuries and matchup issues have contributed to Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss starting lineups showing many different looks from game-to-game this season. All 11 available scholarship players have earned at least one starting nod, and Kennedy has employed eight unique lineup combinations through 17 games. Junior guard David Huertas is the only Rebel to have started every contest.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Will Bogan: Has made first six career starts, averaging 25.5 minutes per start ... Served as Chris Warren’s back-up at point guard through first 11 games ... Tied season high with 8 points at Florida ... Scored 8 points against Marshall.
Kevin Cantinol: Redshirt-freshman forward set career highs with 8 points (4-4 FGs), 4 rebounds and 23 minutes played in the 78-65 win at New Orleans ... Earned his first career start at New Mexico.
DeAundre Cranston: JUCO transfer had 9 rebounds against No. 9 Louisville ... Set a season high with 12 rebounds along with 8 points vs. UCF ... Started his first game as a Rebel vs. Marshall ... Had 9 points and 5 rebounds vs. South Alabama ... Despite a wide, 6-9 frame, has the ability to connect from long range.
Zach Graham: Has hit 30-of-32 free throws (93.8 pct.) through the first 17 games ... Had 12 points and 5 rebounds vs. Arkansas ... Notched 14 points with 5 boards at Florida ... 8 points with season-high 7 rebounds vs. No. 9 Louisville ... Scored 12 points at New Mexico ... Contributed 9 points and 5 boards vs. UCF ... Just hours after learning that junior guard Eniel Polynice would miss the remainder of the season, Graham stepped into Polynice’s spot in the starting lineup vs. South Alabama and responded with a career-high 16 points, including 3-for-4 from the field, 2-of-3 from downtown and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw stripe.
Terrance Henry: 6-foot-9 forward is hitting free throws at a 79.3 percent clip (23-of-29) ... Tied season high with 9 points at New Mexico, also blocked 3 shots ... Had 9 points vs. Morgan State ... Season-high 8 rebounds vs. UCF ... Earned a spot in the starting lineup for the first three games of his collegiate career ... Tallied 8 points and 7 rebounds vs. Utah ... Had 8 points and 6 boards against South Alabama.
Murphy Holloway: Leads team with a 5.8 rebounding average ... Leads team and ranks eighth in SEC with 2.8 offensive boards per game ... Fourth-straight double-figure scoring game with 10 points vs. LSU ... Had 11 points vs. Arkansas ... Scored 11 points (5-7 FGs) with 7 boards at Florida ... Posted team’s first double-double of season with 15 points and 16 rebounds vs. Florida A&M ... 10 points, 5 boards vs. Nicholls ... Set career high with 15 points vs. Alabama State, including 5-5 FTs ... Earned first career start and scored 11 points with 5 rebounds vs. West Virginia ... Scored 11 points with 6 boards vs. Utah ... Picked up 4 steals vs. Marshall.
Malcolm White: Tops the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in blocked shots (1.4/game) ... Averages a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game in SEC play, which ranks 13th among league players ... Posted 8 points and 9 rebounds vs. Arkansas ... 9 points on 4-5 FGs vs. Nicholls ... Career-high 4 blocks vs. Southern Miss ... Had breakout night vs. Florida A&M, scoring career-high 18 points (8-11 FGs) with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks ... 12 points, 9 boards vs. Alabama State.
Terrico White: Notched career-high scoring totals in back-to-back games with 18 in the win over Arkansas and then 22 vs. LSU ... Tallied 18 points with 4 assists and 2 steals against Florida A&M ... Scored 13 points on 5-of-7 field goals and 3-of-4 three’s in start vs. West Virginia ... Earned his first starting nod in the 82-78 win over Marshall ... Season-high 5 assists vs. South Alabama ... First Memphis signee for Kennedy’s program.
OLE MISS ALL-CENTURY TEAM VOTING
As part of the celebration of the First 100 Years of Ole Miss Basketball, the athletics department will be naming an All-Century Team and are asking fans to help determine the honorees by voting online at OleMissSports.com. Click the All-Century Team link at the top right of the page.
The list of nominees includes any Rebel that earned All-SEC honors or scored 1,000 or more points in his career. Voting ends Jan. 31 at midnight. Fans must limit their selections to 10 and are asked to submit online only one ballot per person. The top 10 fan vote-getters will be guaranteed a spot on the All-Century team. The athletics department will determine any remaining members of the squad after consultation with the M-Club Alumni Chapter.
The celebration will culminate with the unveiling of the All-Century Team at the Feb. 21 game against Georgia at Tad Smith Coliseum.