GAME NOTES: Top-25 Showdown In Lexington
GAME 22: #25 Ole Miss (16-5, 4-3 SEC) at #3/4 Kentucky (20-1, 5-1 SEC)
NOTE: Due to team travel, Coach Andy Kennedy's weekly radio show, RebTalk, will not air this week. The show will return next week at its regular time of Monday at 7 p.m. CT live from The Library off the Oxford Square.
TOP-25 "SUPER TUESDAY" SHOWDOWN AT RUPP
Ole Miss closes its run of three games in six days with a quick turnaround game on Tuesday at No. 3 Kentucky, the highest ranked opponent for the Rebels so far this season. Ole Miss split its two games this past week, winning on the road at Auburn on Thursday (84-74) and losing at home to Arkansas on Sunday (80-73). Murphy Holloway is coming off a monster game against the Razorbacks with 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year. The Rebels are 4-2 on the road this season, including a 3-1 record in SEC road games. They have won three league road games for the first time since they captured four in 2001. The team's 16 victories matches its total from all of last season.
- Ole Miss is nationally ranked for the ninth straight week, coming in at No. 25 in the AP poll (top vote-getter in "receiving votes" in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll).
- Tuesday's game is the 109th meeting between the two schools, with the Wildcats holding a 96-12 series lead.
- 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.
- Ole Miss is 0-3 against top 25 ranked teams this season but is 3-5 in its last eight such outings.
- The Rebels are looking for their first win over a top-10 team during Andy Kennedy's tenure.
- The Rebels have equaled last year's win total of 16.
- At 80.9 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the nation in scoring offense.
- Through seven league games, Ole Miss ranks 3rd in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 39.1 percent.
- Junior guard Chris Warren ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring at 16.7 ppg, and sophomore guard Terrico White is 12th with 15.0 points per game.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Kentucky enters Tuesday's matchup with a 20-1 overall record and 5-1 mark to tie for the overall SEC lead with Vanderbilt. In his first season at the helm, John Calipari has UK as one of the nation's top teams. It was the last unbeaten in the country before South Carolina knocked off the Wildcats last Tuesday. Kentucky bounced back to beat Vanderbilt on Saturday in Lexington. UK leads the SEC with 82.2 ppg, a +16.2 scoring margin, a 38.5 3-point FG percentage, 42.0 rebounds/game, a +10.1 rebounding margin and 15.9 assists/game. Freshman All-American candidates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins lead the way with 16.9 and 16.2 ppg, respectively. Wall leads the SEC with 6.8 assists/game, while Cousins is second with 9.7 rebounds/game. Senior Patrick Patterson adds 15.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg.
OLE MISS-KENTUCKY SERIES
Tuesday's game will be the 109th meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats hold a 96-12 lead in the series, which began in 1925. Ole Miss snapped a nine-game UK winning streak in the series when the Rebels beat the No. 24 Wildcats 85-80 in last year's regular-season meeting in Oxford, with David Huertas, Terrico White and Malcolm White each scoring 20+. However, UK handed Ole Miss a 71-58 loss in the opening round of the SEC Tournament in Tampa despite 21 points from Terrico White.
Kentucky holds a 45-2 series lead in Lexington. Ole Miss secured one of the program's biggest ever victories with a 73-64 win in Rupp Arena over the eventual national champs on Feb. 14, 1998. Current Rebel assistant coach Michael White scored 16 points as the then-junior point guard for Ole Miss. The only other Ole Miss win at Kentucky occurred in 1927. In the last meeting in Lexington, the Rebels fought back from a 17-point halftime deficit to pull within two late, but could not complete the comeback in a 58-54 defeat despite 23 second-half points from Chris Warren.
REBELS IN THE POLLS
Ole Miss is nationally ranked for the ninth straight week, coming in at No. 25 in the AP poll. Ole Miss is one vote shy of the top 25 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 four schools currently ranked in the top 25 in all three sports (Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Texas).
REBELS VS. NATION'S TOP FIVE
No. 3 Kentucky is the highest ranked opponent for Ole Miss this year and the highest since facing No. 1 Florida on Jan. 20, 2007. It's the second top-5 opponent for the Rebels this year (No. 5 Villanova). The last time Ole Miss defeated a top-5 opponent was a 73-69 win over No. 3 Kentucky on Jan. 11, 1997 in Oxford.
REBELS VS. NATION'S TOP 10
With a matchup against No. 3 Kentucky, the Rebels will be facing their fourth top 10 opponent of the season. The Rebels have yet to post a top-10 win during head coach Andy Kennedy's tenure, going 0-7 since he took over in 2006-07. The last Ole Miss win over a top-10 foe was an 84-56 thrashing of No. 6 Alabama on March 3, 2002 in Oxford. The last road win over a top-10 team was a 73-64 decision over Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Feb. 14, 1998.
REBELS VS. RANKED FOES
The No. 3-ranked Wildcats represent the fourth ranked opponent for the Rebels this season. Ole Miss is 0-3 in the previous outings (lost to No. 5 Villanova, neutral site, and at No. 6 West Virginia and No. 9 Tennessee). Ole Miss is 3-5 against top-25 opponents over the last three seasons and 4-10 in four years under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels' last win over a ranked team was an 85-80 triumph against No. 24 Kentucky on Jan. 27 last season.
SEC ROAD WARRIORS
Ole Miss has won three SEC road games (Georgia, LSU, Auburn) for the first time since claiming four in 2001. The school record for SEC road wins in a season is six (1938).
KENNEDY NEARS CENTURY MARK FOR WINS
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy enters Tuesday's game vs. Kentucky 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 98-57 (.632 win pct.), the second-best mark among all collegiate coaches who are in their fifth year (see Kennedy section on p. 8).
ALREADY AT LAST YEAR'S WIN TOTAL
At 16-5, Ole Miss has already equaled its win total from all of last season when the team finished 16-15 after losing three key players to season-ending knee injuries (Gaskins, Polynice, Warren) and being limited throughout the conference schedule by ailments even to the available players (Graham, Huertas).
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, but the team is improving in this crucial element of winning games for the Rebels. The team has out-rebounded the opponent in each of the last four games, piling up a 3-1 record. When Ole Miss secures the same or more rebounds than its opponent, it has a 12-1 record, while 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 80.9 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 15.0.
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 seven league games, Ole Miss ranks third in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 39.1 percent. Ole Miss has out-rebounded the opponent in each of its last four games.
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 40th in the nation with 2.2 blocks per game, has helped the Rebels average 5.7 swats per contest, fifth-best among SEC teams and 21st in the country. The team's 12 blocks against Indiana were one shy of a school record.
BALANCED SCORING IN LEAGUE PLAY
Ole Miss' SEC production has featured depth and balance in this year's playing rotation. Nine of the 10 players who have seen action in SEC games are averaging at least 4 ppg in league play. In the Georgia, LSU and Auburn road 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 172-82, which is an average of 12.9 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 Kentucky game with 1,120 career points, 25th-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.
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 Arkansas, Warren extended his streak to 31 straight games, the second-longest such streak in school history and the 16th-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 (18th in NCAA). He had 17 points against Arkansas. 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).
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.
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 15.0 ppg, which is 12th-best among SEC players. He also ranks 26th in the league with 4.7 rpg. 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 10.6 ppg, 4.4 rebounds/game (28th in SEC), 4.2 assists/game (leads team, 6th in SEC) and 1.4 steals/game (leads team). He tallied 15 points, 7 boards and 6 assists vs. Arkansas. 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.
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.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
- Reginald Buckner: Third among SEC players and tops among league freshmen with 2.2 blocks/game (40th in NCAA) ... Day-to-day after spraining his ankle at Auburn ... Missed the Arkansas 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.
- 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 15 games ... For the season, shooting 46.0 percent from the field (69-150) and 43.7 percent from downtown (31-71), 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 64.9 percent from the field (37-57) and 58.3 percent from three (14-24) ... 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 57.7 percent from the field (86-149) ... Ranks 10th in the SEC with 7.0 rebounds/game ... Got his 5th double-double with 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds vs. Arkansas ... 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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