GAME NOTES: No. 18 Rebels Face Another Road Test
GAME 20: #18/20 Ole Miss (15-4, 3-2 SEC) at Auburn (10-10, 1-4 SEC)
ANOTHER ROAD GAME STARTS TOUGH STRETCH
Ole Miss is back on the road for the fourth time in the last five games with Thursday's matchup at Auburn. The upcoming schedule does Ole Miss no favors, either. Thursday's game kicks off a stretch of three games in six days that includes Arkansas at home on Saturday and a trip to No. 1 Kentucky this coming Tuesday. The Rebels are coming off a 73-63 win at LSU and are looking for back-to-back SEC road wins for the first time since 2001. Terrance Henry, Eniel Polynice and Chris Warren each scored 14 points to lead the team to its first win in Baton Rouge since 2003. Andy Kennedy's squad has utilized defense and rebounding in its current two-game win streak, holding both South Carolina and LSU under 65 points and out-rebounding each.
- Ole Miss is nationally ranked for the eighth straight week, coming in at No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
- Thursday's game is the 119th meeting between the two schools, with Auburn holding an all-time series lead of 71-47.
- Ole Miss is one of four schools in the country whose football, men's basketball and baseball teams are currently ranked in their respective top 25 polls.
- The Rebels are off to their best start in league play since also starting 3-2 in 2006.
- The Rebels are one win shy of equaling last year's total of 16.
- At 81.6 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the nation in scoring offense.
- Through five league games, Ole Miss leads the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 38.1 percent.
- Ole Miss is 11-0 when out-rebounding its opponent.
- Junior guard Chris Warren ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring at 16.5 ppg, and sophomore guard Terrico White is 13th with 15.2 points per game.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Auburn enters Thursday's contest with a 10-10 overall record and 1-4 mark in SEC play. The Tigers' lone SEC win was an 84-80 victory at LSU. In each of their four league losses, they have led or trailed by less than 5 points during the second half. Jeff Lebo's team scores 76.2 ppg and allows 73.3 ppg. The team's guard-heavy lineup ranks third in the SEC in 3-pointers per game (8.1) and steals per game (8.6). DeWayne Reed leads four Tigers averaging double-figure points with his 16.5 ppg. Frankie Sullivan scores 13.8 ppg, Lucas Hargrove 13.3 ppg and a team-high 7.3 rpg, and Tay Waller adds 11.5 ppg. Reed is seventh in the SEC in scoring, fifth in assists (4.5/game) and ninth in steals (1.5/game).
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES
Thursday's game will be the 119th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 71-47. The teams have split the last 18 meetings, but Auburn has won three of the last four. Each team won on its home floor last season, most recently a 77-64 victory by the Tigers on the Plains. DeWayne Reed paced Auburn with 19 points, while Terrico White's game-high 24 points were not enough for a road win for the short-handed Rebels. The Tigers own a 47-10 all-time advantage in Auburn.
IN THE POLLS
Ole Miss is nationally ranked for the eighth straight week, coming in at No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. It's the longest stretch of being ranked since the Rebels made it 14 straight weeks in the polls during the 2000-01 season.
REBELS RULE RANKINGS
For the first time in school history, the Ole Miss football, men's basketball and baseball teams are all ranked in their respective national polls at the same time. The football team finished at No. 20 in the final AP poll and No. 21 in the coaches poll, while the Diamond Rebs are No. 22 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll. Ole Miss is one of only four schools currently ranked in the top 25 in all three sports (Clemson, Georgia Tech, Texas).
Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their "sweet home." Sophomore guard Nick Williams, sitting out this season after transferring from Indiana, is a native of Mobile and was the 2008 6A State Player of the Year. 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. 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.
REBOUNDING EDGE IS KEY
With a roster dominated by backcourt stars, rebounding has not been the strength of this year's Ole Miss squad. However, getting on the boards is a crucial element of winning games for the Rebels. When Ole Miss secures the same or more rebounds than its opponent, it has a perfect 11-0 record. (This includes the last two games, in which Ole Miss out-rebounded an SEC foe for the first times this season.) The Rebels are 4-4 when they get out-rebounded.
Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 18th in the country with an average of 81.2 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 11 times, 90+ in five contests and a season-high 108 against Centenary. Four players average 10 or more ppg, led by Chris Warren's 16.5 and Terrico White's 15.2.
Defense and rebounding has been the focus of this year's Ole Miss team since pre-season camp, and the emphasis is starting to show up in games. Through five league games, Ole Miss leads the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 38.1 percent and ranks fourth in scoring defense, giving up 69.4 ppg to SEC foes. Ole Miss has out-rebounded the opponent in each of its last two games, both resulting in wins.
BUCKNER CLOSING IN ON SCHOOL RECORDS
Freshman forward Reginald Buckner has already established himself as one of the best shot-blockers in the SEC and soon to be one of the best in school history. His 42 blocks through 19 games are four shy of Sean Murphy's school freshman record (46 in 1987-88) and 14 shy of David Dean's school record for blocks in a season (56 in 1992-93).
ALMOST TO LAST YEAR'S WIN TOTAL
A win at Auburn would bring the Rebels' record to 16-4, which would equal the win total from all of last season when the team finished 16-15. The Rebels had a 10-9 record through 19 games last year.
BEST LEAGUE START SINCE '06
With a 3-2 SEC record, Ole Miss is off to its best start in league play since also starting 3-2 in 2006. The last time the Rebels began 4-2 was in 2002.
SULTANS OF SWAT
There's a new strength on this year's team that the Rebels have not featured much in years past - the blocked shot. The presence of freshman Reginald Buckner, who ranks third in the SEC and 41st in the nation with 2.2 blocks per game, has helped the Rebels average 5.9 swats per contest, fourth-best among SEC teams and 18th in the country entering the week. The team's 12 blocks against Indiana were one shy of a school record.
BALANCED SCORING IN LEAGUE PLAY
Ole Miss has gotten out to a 3-2 SEC start in part due to the depth and balance in this year's playing rotation. All nine players who have seen action in SEC games are averaging at least 5 ppg in league play. In both the Georgia and LSU wins, every Rebel who played got in the scoring column.
STRONG OFF THE BENCH
Ole Miss has benefitted from strong contributions off its bench in SEC play. The Rebel bench is out-scoring the SEC opponents' bench 130-54, which is an average of 15.2 more points per game.
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 Auburn game with 1,083 career points, 26th-most in school history. He reached 1,000 points in his 60th career game, which was 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 Jan. 5. The list will be narrowed down to a final 10 by Feb. 1 and final five by March 1.
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 186 treys in 65 career outings (2.9 per game).
CONSISTENCY FROM DOWNTOWN
Junior guard Chris Warren and sophomore guard Terrico White have entered rare territory with their streaks of consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal. Against LSU, Warren extended his streak to 29 straight games, the second-longest such streak in school history and tied for 17th-longest in SEC history. White had his streak of 23 straight games end when he missed all seven attempts from downtown at West Virginia.
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 16.5 ppg and second with 3.1 3-pointers per game (23rd in NCAA). He scored all 14 of his points in a second-half surge at LSU. He led the Rebels with 17 points vs. SC. He dropped in 19 points (including 5 3-pointers) at Tennessee. He led the Rebels with 12 points at Georgia and 15 points against MSU. He reached 1,000 career points when he scored 14 (4 3-pointers) against UCF. He posted his third straight 20-point game with a career-high 32 (5-10 3's, 13-15 FT's) - with 11 points in OT - in the win over UTEP. He poured in 20 points, including a clutch pair of 3's in the final minute, in the comeback win over Southern Miss, adding six assists. He was named to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after he led all scorers in San Juan with 22.3 ppg. 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 15.2 ppg, which is tied for 13th-best among SEC players. He posted 11 points with 6 rebounds vs. South Carolina. He had 17 points - including a big 4-point play in OT - at Tennessee. 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 (8-of-10 FTs), in the OT win over UTEP. He had 15 points vs. Southern Miss. He poured in 25 points in a win over Kansas State and dropped in 19 points three more 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 11 or more points in 10 of the last 13 games. For the season, he is shooting 46.1 percent from the field (65-141) and 44.1 percent from downtown (30-68), while also playing lock-down defense on the perimeter. He scored 16 points (6-7 FTs) at Tennessee. He had 11 points (3-5 FGs, 4-4 FTs) at Georgia. He posted 14 points, 7 rebounds and a career-high 4 steals vs. MSU. 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 with a career-high 5 assists. Had 14 points to go with 7 boards in OT win over UTEP. 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: Third among SEC players and tops among league freshmen with 2.2 blocks/game (41st in NCAA) ... He also ranks fourth among all freshmen in the nation in blocks/game ... Near double-double with 8 points (4-4 FGs) and 9 rebounds at LSU ... 8 points (4-5 FGs), 5 boards vs. MSU ... 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: Season-high 11 rebounds at Tennessee ... 8 points, 4 rebounds at Georgia ... 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: 8 points at LSU ... Season-high 11 points (3-3 from downtown) in just 9 minutes at Georgia ... 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: Shooting a team-best 68.9 percent from the field (31-45) and 65.0 percent from three (13-20) ... Set a career high with 14 points (5-6 FGs, 3-3 3-pt FGs) in his first start of the season at LSU ... 8 points, 4 boards at Georgia ... Had 12 points (4-6 FGs, 2-3 3's) to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks vs. MSU ... 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 ... 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 59.7 percent from the field ... Ranks 10th in the SEC with 6.8 rebounds/game and tied for 8th with 4 double-doubles ... Posted 4th double-double with 14 points and 12 boards vs. South Carolina ... 6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals at Georgia ... 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 10.2 ppg, 4.2 rebounds/game, 4.1 assists/game (6th SEC) and 1.5 steals/game (8th SEC) ... Often called the "glue" guy for Ole Miss who makes plays happen on offense and defense with his ability to penetrate and score or dish, as well as utilize quick hands and good hand-eye coordination ... Had 14 points and 4 rebounds at LSU ... 10 points, 4 boards, 3 steals vs. South Carolina ... Tied season high with 9 rebounds at Tennessee ... 10 points, 3 assists at Georgia, securing the win with a nifty in-bounds pass off Travis Leslie's back and layup with 12 seconds remaining ... Reached 100 steals for his career with 2 against MSU ... 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 ... 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.
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