GAME NOTES: First-Place Rebels Host Hogs Sunday
GAME 21: #18/20 Ole Miss (16-4, 4-2 SEC) vs. Arkansas (9-11, 2-3 SEC)
FIRST-PLACE REBELS RETURN HOME, FACE HOGS
Rescheduled to Sunday because of icy weather, the 18th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels return home to face Arkansas after playing four of their last five games on the road. They have gotten quality road results, though, including Thursday night's 84-74 win at Auburn that vaulted Ole Miss into first place in the SEC West with a 4-2 league record and pushed its overall mark to 16-4. The Rebels are now 4-2 on the road this season, including a 3-1 record in SEC road games. The team's 16 victories matches its total from all of last season. The 4-2 SEC record is Ole Miss' best through six games since also starting 4-2 in 2002. Against Auburn, the Rebels got 53 points from their dynamic backcourt trio of Chris Warren (20), Terrico White (19) and Eniel Polynice (14).
- Ole Miss is in first place in the SEC West with a 4-2 league record, its best league start since 2002.
- 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.
- Sunday's game is the 65th meeting between the two schools, with the Razorbacks holding an all-time series lead of 40-24. Ole Miss has won 16 of the last 23, though.
- Ole Miss is one of five schools in the country whose football, men's basketball and baseball teams are currently ranked in their respective top 25 polls.
- Kennedy has directed Ole Miss to a 53-8 home record in his four seasons at the helm.
- The Rebels have equaled last year's win total of 16.
- At 81.3 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the nation in scoring offense.
- Through six league games, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 37.8 percent.
- Ole Miss is 11-0 when out-rebounding its opponent, including wins in each of the last three outings.
SCOUTING THE RAZORBACKS
Arkansas enters Sunday's game 9-11 overall and 2-3 in SEC play. The Razorbacks are coming off a big home win over Mississippi State, 67-62, that bumped the Bulldogs out of the top spot in the SEC West. John Pelphrey's team is 2-1 at home in league play, but 0-2 on the road. Arkansas averages 74.9 ppg to opponents' 73.6 ppg. Courtney Fortson is putting up 20.2 ppg in the six games he has played since returning from a suspsension. Fortson poured in a career-high 35 points in the win over MSU, including 33 in the second half. Rotnei Clarke averages 17.4 ppg and an SEC-best 3.6 3's per game, which also led the NCAA entering the week. Marshawn Powell adds 15.1 ppg and a team-high 6.9 rpg, while Mike Washington contributes 12.8 ppg.
OLE MISS-ARKANSAS SERIES
Sunday's game will be the 65th meeting between the two schools, with the Razorbacks holding an all-time series lead of 40-24. The series began in 1937. Since Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference in the 1991-92 season, Ole Miss leads the series 19-17 and has won 16 of the last 23 meetings, five of the last seven and each of the last three. Ole Miss swept two meetings with Arkansas last year, including an unlikely 98-91 OT win in Fayetteville using just seven players. Terrico White led four Rebels in double figures with a career-high 29 points. Ole Miss holds a 15-4 series lead in games played in Oxford and has won 12 of the last 13 bouts in Tad Smith Coliseum.
ROB EVANS FACES FORMER TEAM
Arkansas assistant coach and former Ole Miss head coach Rob Evans will make his fifth appearance against his former team as a member of the Razorback staff. Evans manned the Rebel bench from 1992-93 to 1997-98, amassing an 86-81 record and guiding Ole Miss to NCAA Tournament berths in 1997 and '98 and SEC West titles both of those years, as well. He was the '97 SEC Coach of the Year (Associated Press) and was tabbed National Coach of the Year by College Hoops Insider. He did not square off against the Rebels during his eight-year tenure as the head coach at Arizona State.
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. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN preseason coaches poll. Ole Miss is one of only five schools currently ranked in the top 25 in all three sports (Clemson, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Texas).
COACHES VS. CANCER SUITS & SNEAKERS GAME
During Sunday's game, Andy Kennedy and the Ole Miss coaching staff will be wearing sneakers with their usual game attire to show their support of the American Cancer Society's mission to save lives from cancer. During Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers awareness weekend, a collaborative initiative of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society, coaches across the country will be showing their support, too. To learn more, visit cancer.org/coaches or call 1-800-227-2345.
KENNEDY NEARS CENTURY MARK FOR WINS
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy enters Sunday's game vs. Arkansas just two wins shy of 100 for his career. The Louisville, Miss., native is in his fifth season as a collegiate head coach - one year at Cincinnati and four at Ole Miss. His current career record stands at 98-56 (.636 win pct.), the second-best mark among all collegiate coaches who are in their fifth year (see Kennedy section on page 8).
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 53-8 (.869 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including a 9-1 mark this year. The Rebels are 19-7 in SEC home games under Kennedy's watch.
Ole Miss has won 184 of its last 224 games (.821 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 417-187 (.690 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
BEST LEAGUE START SINCE '02
With a 4-2 SEC record, Ole Miss is off to its best start in league play since also starting 4-2 in 2002 when the team began 6-2 en route to a 9-7 final league record.
REBOUNDING EDGE IS KEY
With a roster dominated by backcourt stars, rebounding has not been the primary 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 12-0 record. (This includes each of the last three games, all SEC victories.) The Rebels are 4-4 when they get out-rebounded.
Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the country with an average of 81.3 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 12 times, 90+ in five contests and a season-high 108 against Centenary. Four players average 10 or more ppg, led by Chris Warren's 16.7 and Terrico White's 15.4.
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 six league games, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 37.8 percent. Ole Miss has out-rebounded the opponent in each of its last three games, all 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 44 blocks through 20 games are two shy of Sean Murphy's school freshman record (46 in 1987-88) and 12 shy of David Dean's school record for blocks in a season (56 in 1992-93). Buckner's total already ranks 10th-most in a season in school history.
SEC ROAD WARRIORS
Ole Miss has won three SEC road games (Georgia, LSU, Auburn) for the first time since claiming four in 2001. The victories over the two Tiger schools marked the first time Ole Miss has won back-to-back conference road games since 2001.
IT'S RAINING THREE'S
With an abundance of shooters in its backcourt-heavy lineup, Ole Miss is getting plenty of production from behind the arc this season. The Rebels rank second among SEC teams and entered the week 17th in the nation with 8.5 three's made per game. They have drained 8 or more three's in 10 of their last 14 outings. They tied the school record with 14 treys against Jacksonville State and have drained 12 against Southern Miss and UTEP.
Individually, Chris Warren leads the way with 62 3-pointers, ranking second in the SEC with 3.1/game. Terrico White has drained 37 shots from downtown (1.9/game), including a career-high seven against Jacksonville State. Zach Graham has added 30 triples. Eight different Rebels have knocked down at least one.
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 entered the week 41st in the nation with 2.2 blocks per game, has helped the Rebels average 6.0 swats per contest, fifth-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.
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 Arkansas game with 1,103 career points, 26th-most in school history. He reached 1,000 points in his 60th career game, 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 190 treys in 66 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 Auburn, Warren extended his streak to 30 straight games, the second-longest such streak in school history and the 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 16.7 ppg and second with 3.1 3-pointers per game (23rd in NCAA). He led the Rebels with 20 points (4-7 3's) and 5 assists at Auburn. 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 15.4 ppg, which is 10th-best among SEC players. He had 19 points (8-12 FGs) and 7 rebounds at Auburn, including a 16-point second-half outburst. 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.
POLYNICE DOES A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING
Junior guard Eniel Polynice is at his best when he is filling up every column of the stat sheet, and the Rebels' "glue" guy has been producing. For the season, he averages 10.4 ppg, 4.3 rebounds/game, 4.2 assists/game (leads team, 6th in SEC) and 1.5 steals/game (leads team). He had his second straight 14-point game at Auburn, adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He had 14 points and 4 rebounds at LSU. He posted 10 points, 4 boards and 3 steals vs. South Carolina. He tied a season high with 9 rebounds at Tennessee. He recorded 10 points at Georgia and secured the win with a nifty in-bounds pass off Travis Leslie's back and layup with 12 seconds remaining. He reached 100 steals for his career with 2 against MSU. He had 16 points and 5 assists vs. UCF. He notched 9 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists vs. Jacksonville State. He posted 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists at West Virginia. He had 13 points and 6 assists vs. Centenary. He came up big in a late rally vs. McNeese State to finish with 12 points and tie career highs with 9 assists and 4 steals. He 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.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
- Reginald Buckner: Third among SEC players and tops among league freshmen with 2.2 blocks/game (41st in NCAA) ... He also entered the week ranked fourth among all freshmen in the nation in blocks/game ... Day-to-day after spraining his ankle at Auburn ... 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.
- Zach Graham: Has turned into one of the Rebels' most consistent and dependable weapons on the offensive and defensive end ... Has tallied 11 or more points in 10 of the last 14 games ... For the season, shooting 45.5 percent from the field (66-145) and 43.5 percent from downtown (30-69), while also playing lock-down defense on the perimeter ... Scored 16 points (6-7 FTs) at Tennessee ... Had 11 points (3-5 FGs, 4-4 FTs) at Georgia ... Posted 14 points, 7 rebounds and a career-high 4 steals vs. MSU ... Had 14 points and 4 assists against Jacksonville State ... 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 ... Tied a career high with 4 3-pointers en route to 15 points vs. Southern Miss ... Dropped in a season-high 17 points in the win at Arkansas State, connecting on a career-high 4 3-pointers.
- Terrance Henry: Shooting a team-best 67.3 percent from the field (35-52) and 66.7 percent from three (14-21) ... Near double-double with 9 points and a career-high 10 boards at Auburn ... 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 59.5 percent from the field (78-131) ... Ranks 14th in the SEC with 6.5 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.
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