Top Defenses Collide In Tuscaloosa

Andy Kennedy (AP photo)

Feb. 2, 2012

VIDEO: Coach Kennedy Press Conference

Ole Miss Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Alabama Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

GAME 22: Ole Miss (14-7, 4-3 SEC) at Alabama (14-7, 3-4 SEC)
Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 | 7:00 p.m. CT
Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Coleman Coliseum (15,383)

Television: ESPN2 (Pam Ward, play-by-play; Kara Lawson, analyst).
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst).
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 220, XM 199
Live Video:
Live Audio: RebelVision


• Ole Miss is tied for fourth place in the SEC standings at 4-3.
• The Rebels are 40th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. Alabama is 36th.
• Alabama ranks 2nd among SEC teams in field-goal percentage defense (.373), while Ole Miss is third (.394).
Andy Kennedy has the most wins by a Rebel coach over a six-year span (119).
• Ole Miss is 3-4 in true road games this year, including 1-2 in SEC road games.
• As a team, Ole Miss ranks 18th in the most recent NCAA rankings with 5.5 blocks/game.
• In league play, the Rebels lead all SEC teams in rebounding (42.4) and rebounding margin (+9.9).
• Ole Miss is 11-2 when its opponent shoots below 40 percent from the field.
• Senior F Terrance Henry is averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds over the last four games.
• Ole Miss is 13-4 this year when junior F Murphy Holloway plays the whole game. He ranks third in the league and 35th nationally in rebounding (9.4 rpg).
• Junior F Reginald Buckner broke the school’s all-time career blocks record at Southern Miss. He now leads all active SEC players with 207 career blocks. He ranks 24th nationally with 2.5 blocks/game.

Two of the league’s top defensive teams will square off in Tuscaloosa Saturday as Ole Miss visits Alabama. The Rebels have won three of their last four games and enter the contest ranked third in the SEC and 32nd nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.394). The Tide, which  broke a four-game losing streak with a win over Arkansas in its last outing, ranks second in the league and sixth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.373). Alabama also leads the SEC in scoring defense (57.9). Ole Miss is 4-3 in league play, while Alabama is 3-4.

Ole Miss is No. 40 in the nation in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA (Jan. 30). Ole Miss has played the nation’s No. 35th ranked schedule and has faced 10 teams with RPIs of 100 or better (4-6 in those games). Alabama is ranked 36th in the RPI this week.

Alabama is 14-7 overall and 3-4 in league play entering Saturday’s contest. The Crimson Tide won its first two SEC games, then dropped four straight before picking up a 72-66 win over Arkansas in its most recent outing. Overall, Anthony Grant’s team is 9-2 at home, including a 2-1 home record in conference games. Alabama is led by an outstanding defense that ranks sixth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.373) and 11th in scoring defense (57.9). Offensively, the team averages 66.2 ppg and is paced by JaMychal Green’s 13.7 ppg and Tony Mitchell’s 12.5 ppg. Trevor Releford adds 12.5 ppg, while Mitchell tops the squad in rebounding (7.2 rpg).

Saturday’s game will be the 169th meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide holds a 116-52 lead in the series, which began in 1921. The teams have split their season series in 10 of the last 13 years, including last season when Alabama won 74-64 in Tuscaloosa and Ole Miss prevailed 68-63 in Oxford behind Chris Warren’s 25 points (see box score on page 8). The Tide holds a 69-10 lead in games played in Tuscaloosa, but Ole Miss has won there as recently as 2010 (76-73). Andy Kennedy has a 5-5 career record vs. the Tide.

Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their “sweet home.” Junior guard Nick Williams is a native of Mobile and was the 2008 6A State Player of the Year. Assistant coach Bill Armstrong is from Birmingham and played collegiately at UAB, while coordinator of basketball operations 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.

With the victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, Andy Kennedy surpassed Rod Barnes for the most wins (114) by an Ole Miss head coach over a six-year span. Now with 119 wins, Kennedy already ranks third in school history behind B.L. “Country” Graham (144 wins in 13 seasons) and Barnes (141 wins in 8 seasons). The most wins in any six-year span in Ole Miss history is 128 (1996-97 through 2001-02, two head coaches).

Ole Miss has established itself as one of the better defensive teams in the SEC this year. The Rebels rank third in the SEC (and 32nd in the NCAA) in field goal percentage defense at 39.4. Ole Miss is 11-2 when its opponent shoots below 40 percent from the field. Six different times the Rebels have held their opponent below 60 points, including a pair of games under 40. In league play, only one team (LSU) has scored more than 70 points against the Rebel “D.”

Ole Miss, which rates as the ninth-tallest team in the country (according to, is taking advantage of its significant height and length advantage against most of its opponents this year. No scholarship player on the roster is listed shorter than 6-4, while seven Rebels who see significant minutes are listed at 6-7 or taller. Ole Miss leads all SEC teams with a rebounding average of 39.9 and ranks second with a rebounding margin of +5.3 (39th in NCAA). In SEC play, Ole Miss leads all teams with 42.4 rebounds per game and a +9.9 rebounding margin (the next closest rebounding margin belongs to Mississippi State at +4.3). Individually, Murphy Holloway ranks third among SEC players and 35th in the nation in rebounding (9.4), while Reginald Buckner is fourth in the SEC (8.5). The Rebels also block 5.5 shots per game, ranking third in the league and 18th in the NCAA. They are led by Buckner’s 2.5 swats per game, which ranks him third in the SEC and 24th nationally.

Like most college teams, Ole Miss fares better at home (9-1) than on the road (3-4). Here are some other facts and figures about the Rebels in home and road games:
• Ole Miss has the exact same scoring average in home and road games (66.1).
• The Rebels allow just 55.3 ppg to opponents in Oxford as opposed to 71.3 ppg on the road.
• Ole Miss actually makes a higher percentage of its 3-point attempts on the road (31.2) than at home (29.2).
Jarvis Summers is the Rebels’ top scorer in road games at 14.3 ppg. Terrance Henry is next at 12.3 ppg.
Terrance Henry is the Rebels’ top scorer in home games at 12.2 ppg. Nick Williams is next at 11.2 ppg.

Ole Miss has an 8-1 record when it records the same or fewer turnovers than its opponent, while the Rebels are 6-6 when they lose the turnover battle.

When Ole Miss has needed a player to step up offensively, senior F Terrance Henry has answered the bell in recent games. The 6-foot-9 wing, who was named SEC Player of the Week after leading Ole Miss to wins over No. 15 Mississippi State and Georgia, is averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds over the last four games, including back-to-back 20-point efforts and double-doubles against Georgia (24 points, 10 boards) and No. 13 Florida (21 points, 10 boards). Henry leads Ole Miss with a 12.1 scoring average for the season.

Entering the Alabama game, senior F Terrance Henry has 925 career points. He needs 75 points to become the 33rd member of the 1,000-point club at Ole Miss.

Junior F Murphy Holloway has posted some big numbers in his return to Ole Miss this year (following a one-year stint in South Carolina) and averages 10.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg (3rd in SEC, 35th in NCAA). He is third among SEC players with seven double-doubles this year and ranks second among active league players with 21 in his career. He was the SEC Player of the Week after helping Ole Miss to wins over TCU and Miami.

Ole Miss really missed the presence of junior F Murphy Holloway after he sprained his ankle in the second half against Middle Tennessee (Dec. 21). The Rebels went on to drop that contest and two of the next three without him. He returned against Arkansas to score 19 points, grab 14 rebounds and effectively energize his teammates in leading the Rebels to victory. Ole Miss is 13-4 this year when Holloway plays the whole game.

With four blocks at Southern Miss, junior F Reginald Buckner became the Rebels’ all-time career leader in blocked shots. In just 83 games, the Memphis native now has accumulated 207 blocks, which ranks 21st in SEC history. He needs six blocks to pass Andre Riddick (Kentucky) and C.J. Black (Tennessee) into 19th place. The school record was previously held by Sean Murphy, who had 180 blocks in 117 games from 1988-91. Buckner’s 2.5 blocks average this season ranks third among SEC players and 24th in the most recent NCAA rankings. He now holds the school record for blocks in a career, season and game.

Junior G Nick Williams has stepped up his game in SEC play and is tied for the team lead with 13.1 ppg in league games (t-12th in SEC). The Mobile, Ala., native has tallied 12 or more points in each of the last six contests. He tallied a season-high 18 points and tied a career high with 8 rebounds to help the Rebels to a victory over Arkansas. Coming off the bench for the first time this season, his tenacity was evident in each of his successful drives to the hoop, and the Rebels’ top free-throw shooter knocked down 4 of 5 from the line, as well. At Auburn, he came up big with a game-tying 3-pointer to help erase a 12-point second half deficit and force overtime. He poured in 17 points (7-9 FTs) in the win over 15th-ranked Mississippi State. He had 12 points against Georgia and South Carolina and dropped in 14 points with a career-high four 3-pointers against No. 13 Florida.

Freshman PG Jarvis Summers has shown no fear in the face of critical situations this year. It was his 27 points and crunch-time heroics that gave the Rebels an early victory at Penn State and his late free throws to seal an overtime win over Miami. Against Auburn, he directed a comeback from 12 down in the final nine minutes to force overtime, hitting all four of his 3-pointers after the nine-minute mark. He scored 22 against the Tigers to become the first Rebel with multiple 20-point games this year. He ranks eighth among SEC freshmen in scoring with 10.0 ppg and third with 3.3 assists per game. Among SEC freshmen in league play, he ranks seventh in scoring  (9.7) and third in assists (3.9).

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