GAME 21: Ole Miss (11-9, 2-4) at Mississippi State (14-6, 4-1)
Saturday 01.31.09 | Noon CT
Starkville, Miss. | Humphrey Coliseum (10,500)
Live TV: Raycom (Dave Baker, play-by-play; Joe Dean, analyst)
Pay-per-view TV: ESPN Full Court
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
Live Video: ESPN360.com (Free on-campus viewing at all U.S. colleges and universities)
XM Radio: Channel 199
REBELS CARRY MOMENTUM INTO STARKVILLE
Coming off an 85-80 upset win over No. 24 Kentucky, Ole Miss looks to create a new winning streak when it travels to in-state rival Mississippi State on Saturday. It will not be easy, however, as MSU has won each of the last 10 meetings in Starkville. The teams have split the season series each of the last three years. Ole Miss had a breakout performance against Kentucky to snap a three-game skid. Three Rebels scored 20 or more points - David Huertas (21), Terrico White (21) and Malcolm White (20). The Rebels out-rebounded the Wildcats 45-40 and rank third in rebounding margin in league play entering the weekend. Huertas, the SEC’s third-leading scorer, has led the team in scoring on 12 occasions, scored in double figures 19-of-20 games and reached the 20-point mark 12 times this season.
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. Voting ends Saturday at midnight. Click here to vote!
The list of nominees includes any Rebel that earned All-SEC honors or scored 1,000 or more points in his career. 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.
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.
Freshman guard Terrico White is playing with a bone bruise he suffered this past Saturday, while sophomore guard Zach Graham is battling through a partially torn patella tendon in his knee.
Gaskins, Polynice and Warren have had successful surgeries and are in the midst of their rehab programs. They are all 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).
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Winners of six of their last seven games, the Mississippi State Bulldogs enter Saturday’s divisional clash tied with LSU atop the SEC West standings with a 4-1 league record, while sporting a 14-6 overall mark on the season. MSU is coming off a 67-61 win at Georgia, its second road win in three league games away from Humphrey Coliseum. The Bulldogs are 10-2 at home this season. Jarvis Varnado leads a Bulldog defense that gives up just 65.4 points per game and boasts the league’s second-best field-goal percentage defense at .379. Varnado averages a team-high 13.0 ppg and 9.3 rpg, while leading the nation with 4.9 blocks per contest. Ravern Johnson scores 12.5 ppg, while Barry Stewart helps with 10.6 ppg.
OLE MISS-STATE SERIES
Saturday’s game will be the 238th meeting between the two schools, with the Bulldogs holding an all-time series lead of 133-104 in the SEC’s most-played rivalry. The teams have split the season series each of the last three years, with each winning on its home court. Last year, MSU won 88-68 in Starkville, while Ole Miss countered with a 74-63 victory in Oxford. Chris Warren led all scorers with 22 points, while Dwayne Curtis posted 10 points and 16 rebounds in the Rebel win.
MSU enjoys an 88-23 series advantage in games played in Starkville and has taken 10 straight over the Rebels in Humphrey Coliseum. The last time Ole Miss posted a win in Starkville was an 82-78 victory on Feb. 21, 1998. Current Ole Miss Radio Network analyst Keith Carter scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to help the 15th-ranked Rebels secure that road win.
BULLDOG COACHING TIES
Ole Miss assistant coach Owen Miller will be countering a familiar program on Saturday. Miller served the same position at Mississippi State from 1994-95 until 1996-97. In his first coaching experience, he helped Richard Williams’ Bulldogs to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1995 and a Final Four trip the following year. MSU won the SEC West crown twice in his tenure and captured the league tournament title in 1996.
COACHES VS. CANCER SUITS & SNEAKERS GAME
During Saturday’s game at MSU, 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-ACS-2345.
REBELS SOAR OVER WILDCATS
In the midst of a trying season full of injuries, Ole Miss showed it still has plenty of talent and toughness, as the Rebels earned an 85-80 win over No. 24 Kentucky on Tuesday in front of a national TV audience on ESPN. Four Rebels scored in double figures, led by Terrico White and David Huertas, who poured in 21 apiece. Ole Miss held the SEC’s leading scorer and the country’s third-leading scorer Jodie Meeks to 21 points on just four field goals, including a pair of late three’s after the game had been all but decided. The Rebels out-rebounded the Wildcats 45-40 and led by as many as 13 points with 58 seconds left in the game. Ole Miss improved to 3-2 in its last five games against top-25 teams, including a 1-1 mark this season.
THREE REBELS SCORE 20 IN ONE GAME
It doesn’t happen often, but against No. 24 Kentucky on Tuesday night, three different Ole Miss players eclipsed 20 points. Freshman point guard Terrico White, who was a game-day decision because of a bruised knee, scored 21 points and had a highlight-reel dunk over two of the SEC’s top shot blockers, Patrick Patterson and Perry Stevenson. David Huertas also scored 21 and Malcolm White tallied a career-high 20 points. The last time a trio of Rebels accomplished this feat was Nov. 24, 2006, when Todd Abernethy dropped in 23 points and Clarence Sanders and Bam Doyne added 20 apiece in a 100-80 win over Nicholls.
80 POINTS = OLE MISS WIN
The Rebels boast an unblemished 5-0 record this season when scoring 80 or more points. The team’s record is 6-9 when it does not reach the 80-point mark. In three seasons under Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss owns a 31-3 record (.912 win pct.) when scoring at least 80.
FREE-THROW SHOOTING EXPLOITS
Ole Miss ranks second among SEC teams (and 13th in the nation according to the most recent NCAA stats) with a 74.9 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 fourth in the SEC at 80.8 percent (105-of-130), while Zach Graham boasts an 87.5 percent mark from the line (35-of-40) and Terrance Henry is hitting at a 78.8 percent clip (26-of-33).
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 more than doubled the games in which it shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe this year (7) compared to all of last season (3).
IMPROVING ON THE GLASS
After six SEC games Ole Miss ranks first in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (13.8), second in total rebounds per game (39.3) and third in rebounding margin (+3.8) in league contests. Ole Miss has out-rebounded four of six league opponents and 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 a 5.9 rebounding average in all games and a 5.8 average in league outings. Sophomore forward Malcolm White is second on the squad with 5.0 boards per game, while he and junior guard David Huertas are both averaging 5.7 in SEC games.
Despite facing just two ranked opponents this season, across the board the Rebels have pitted themselves against one of the toughest slates of opponents in the nation. Ole Miss’ strength of schedule is rated as high as No. 13 in the nation on CBSSports.com’s RPI list. With an 11-9 record, Ole Miss ranks No. 63 on the RPI list, sixth among SEC schools. Four teams the Rebels have already seen are ranked in the top 30 - Louisville (11), Utah (14), West Virginia (19) and Florida (27) - while three more are among the top 60 - Kentucky (56), South Carolina (57) and LSU (60).
WHAT OLE MISS IS PLAYING WITH...
2 juniors, 2 sophomores and 5 freshmen among
3 scholarship players who saw playing time a year ago
(David Huertas, Zach Graham, Malcolm White)
SEC’s third-leading scorer (David Huertas - 19.6 ppg)
2 SEC Freshman of the Week selections (Murphy
Holloway, Terrico White)
Last year’s So. Carolina and Tennessee Mr. Basketball
honorees (Murphy Holloway, Terrico White)
WHAT OLE MISS IS PLAYING WITHOUT...
77.0 percent of scoring from last year
79.7 percent of rebounding from last year
3 key backcourt members with knee injuries
(Chris Warren, Eniel Polynice, Trevor Gaskins)
Any scholarship seniors
4 of last year’s 5 primary starters
RUNNING THE POINT
The loss of preseason All-SEC point guard Chris Warren in mid-December has meant a shift in backcourt duties for the Rebels in the nine games since Warren’s injury. Freshman Will Bogan, who had served as Warren’s backup for the season’s first 11 games, received the starting nod as the team’s floor leader in the first six games after the injury. Fellow freshman Terrico White has worked his way into the starting point guard role for the past three outings. White had a point guard-like 7 assists and 2 turnovers to go with his 21 points in the win over No. 24 Kentucky. Bogan is averaging 22.4 minutes in the nine games since Warren’s injury after he logged just 7.5 per game in the season’s first 11 contests.
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. Every available scholarship player has earned at least one starting nod, and Kennedy has employed 10 unique lineup combinations through 20 games. Junior guard David Huertas is the only Rebel to have started every contest.
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has been a scoring machine for the Rebels this season, averaging 19.6 points, good for third among SEC players and 33rd in the nation. At his current pace, Huertas would finish with the highest season scoring average by a Rebel since Joe Harvell scored 25.0 ppg in 1991-92. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in 12 contests, including each of the last three outings. His 18.3 ppg in SEC play ranks fourth among league players. He ranks third in the SEC overall in 3’s per game (2.8) and second in 3-point percentage (38.2). He tied a season high with 27 points at South Carolina. He had 20 against No. 9 Louisville and set or tied career highs with 8 free-throws, 2 blocks and 4 steals against the Cardinals. Against South Alabama, he poured in 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. He ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories this year, as listed below:
Huertas’ SEC Ranks (AS OF 1/29)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 3rd/33rd 19.6/game
Rebounding 27th 4.9/game
FG Percentage 12th 44.3
FT Percentage 4th 80.8
3-pt FG Percentage 2nd 38.2
3-pt FGs Made 3rd 2.8/game
Minutes Played 6th 32.2/game
TERRICO TURNS IT UP A NOTCH
Freshman guard Terrico White has turned up his scoring output since league play began. His 14.7 scoring average in league games ranks second on the team and 11th in the SEC. He also ranks ninth in assists (3.3), 11th in field-goal percentage (44.0), ninth in 3’s per game (2.2) and eighth in assist-turnover ratio (1.3). The superb athlete who can makes plays above the rim has also drained three field goals from downtown in four of the last five contests. His 21 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds helped Ole Miss upset No. 24 Kentucky on Tuesday night. In that game, he had a highlight-reel dunk that landed on Sportscenter’s top plays when he skied over 6-foot-9 post men Patrick Patterson and Perry Stevenson. He captured back-to-back career highs with 18 points against Arkansas and 22 at LSU. At Alabama, White filled up the box score with 14 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, turning the ball over just twice in 38 minutes.
FRESHMEN MAKING THEIR MARK
Rebel freshman guard Terrico White and forward Murphy Holloway have continued to progress in their debut season and have proven themselves as two of the top rookies in the SEC this season. Entering the weekend, White ranks sixth among league freshmen in scoring at 9.9 ppg, while Holloway is 12th at 8.4 ppg. Holloway, the team’s top rebounder, ranks fourth among league freshmen and 19th among all players with 5.9 rpg. He tops all SEC freshmen with a 57.1 FG percentage and is tied for second with 1.4 steals per game. White is making the fifth-most 3-pointers among freshmen with 1.25 per game and handing out the seventh-most assists with 2.2 per game.
MALCOLM TURNING HEADS
Entering the Kentucky game, sophomore forward Malcolm White was averaging 5.7 points and 4.9 boards per outing, but he exploded for a career-high 20 points (8-of-12 FGs) and 6 rebounds in a season-high 36 minutes of action against the 24th-ranked Wildcats. Since Dec. 13, White’s averages have gone from 3.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg to 6.4 pg and 5.0 rpg. He has scored double figures in each of the last two games, while his shot blocking has been a constant all year as he ranks 7th in the SEC with 1.4 bpg.
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 55 treys this year, Huertas recently moved past Warren and Clarence Sanders into seventh place on the all-time list with 130. He needs one more to tie Joezon Darby for sixth. Warren nailed 25 from downtown prior to his season-ending injury this year and now sits in eighth with 128.
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. 130 David Huertas (55 games, 2008-present)
8. 128 Chris Warren (46 games, 2008-present)
TERRICO WHITE NAMED FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Memphis native Terrico White earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors on Jan. 19 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.
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.
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.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Will Bogan: Made first six career starts at PG following Chris Warren’s injury, averaging 25.5 minutes per start ... Served as Warren’s back-up through first 11 games ... Has dished out 3 assists on six occasions ... 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 recorded 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in the win over No. 24 Kentucky ... Scored 8 points with 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals at Alabama ... 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 (4-for-12 3-pt FGs on the season).
Zach Graham: Has hit 35-of-40 free throws (87.5 pct.) through 20 games ... Playing with a partially torn patella tendon in his right knee ... 11 points and 5 rebounds with 3 3-pointers against Kentucky ... Scored 11 points, all in 1st half, at South Carolina, adding 7 rebounds ... Had 12 points and 5 rebounds vs. Arkansas ... Notched 14 points with 5 boards at Florida ... 8 points with 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 78.8 percent clip (26-of-33) ... 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 5.9 rebounding average ... Leads team and ranks sixth in SEC with 2.9 offensive boards per game ... Five straight double-figure scoring games from 1/3 to 1/21 ... Had 7 points and 9 rebounds at South Carolina ... 11 points at Alabama ... Tallied 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.