GAME NOTES: Saturday Morning Hoops vs. Gators
GAME 26: Ole Miss (17-8, 5-6 SEC) vs. Florida (18-8, 7-4 SEC)
REBELS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
Ole Miss looks to bounce back from a defeat to No. 17 Vanderbilt on Thursday with Saturday's contest against Florida, less than 40 hours later. It's the second of a three-game homestand that also includes Auburn on Wednesday. The Rebels lost 82-78 to the Commodores on Thursday, despite 23 points from Chris Warren. The team has dropped two in a row for just the second time this season. Ole Miss has built a strong NCAA Tournament resumé founded on some quality non-league wins. The Rebels beat current top-10 ranked Kansas State 86-74 in Puerto Rico and current C-USA leader UTEP also on a neutral court. The win over KSU (No. 7 RPI) is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season.
REBEL RE-RUNS SHOE DRIVE
Ole Miss' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is taking donations of retired spikes and running shoes at Saturday's basketball game vs. Florida. These shoes will be shipped to Haiti and Kenya in order to help needy children and athletes. Smaller sizes are needed, but all sizes will be greatly appreciated.
- Saturday's game is the 100th meeting between the two schools, with Florida holding a 57-42 lead in the series.
- Ole Miss is 28-19 against Florida in Oxford.
- Andy Kennedy enters the game just one win shy of 100 for his career (99-60).
- Kennedy has directed Ole Miss to a 53-10 home record in his four seasons at the helm.
- At 17-8, the Rebels have surpassed last year's win total of 16.
- At 79.6 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and entered the week 17th in the nation in scoring offense.
- Ole Miss is 13-1 when equaling or surpassing its opponent in rebounds, while the Rebels are 4-7 when they get out-rebounded.
- Junior guard Eniel Polynice is one assist shy of becoming the school's third player ever to reach 700 points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists.
- Junior guard Chris Warren has hit a 3-pointer in 35 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in school history and ninth-longest in SEC history.
HIGH HOPES FOR A RETURN TO THE BIG DANCE
Ole Miss is looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002, and it has built a strong case starting with some big non-conference results. The Rebels, whose RPI stands at 48 entering the week, have neutral-site wins over the hot Kansas State Wildcats (RPI No. 7) and C-USA leader UTEP (No. 56). The win over KSU is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season. Ole Miss went 1-3 over a four-game span without the services of freshman big man Reginald Buckner, who was averaging 8.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg in the two contests before he went down with an ankle injury. He played 13 minutes in Thursday's 82-78 loss to No. 17 Vanderbilt.
Overall, Ole Miss is 6-7 against teams in the current RPI top 115. Among the Rebels' eight losses are four of the RPI's top squads - No. 3 Villanova, No. 5 Kentucky, No. 6 West Virginia and No. 15 Vanderbilt. The only loss to a team currently below 100th was to up-and-coming Arkansas (No. 116).
SCOUTING THE GATORS
Florida enters Saturday's contest with an 18-8 overall record and a 7-4 mark in SEC play. Billy Donovan's team snapped a two-game losing streak with its 78-70 home win over Auburn on Thursday. The Gators are 3-3 in their last six games after reeling off four straight SEC wins from 1/16 to 1/27. In conference play, they are 5-1 at home and 2-3 on the road. UF features a defense that ranks third in the SEC with 64.5 ppg allowed and first with a .299 field-goal percentage defense. Four Gators average double-figure points - Kenny Boynton (13.8), Erving Walker (13.1), Alex Tyus (12.6) and Chandler Parsons (11.4). Tyus leads the team with 7.1 rpg, and Walker ranks third in the SEC with his team-high 5.2 apg.
OLE MISS-FLORIDA SERIES
Saturday's game will be the 100th meeting between the two schools. Florida holds a 57-42 lead in the series, which began in 1940. However, Ole Miss enjoys a 28-19 advantage in games played in Oxford, including an 89-87 victory in the last matchup at Tad Smith Coliseum in 2008. The Gators earned a 78-68 win in last year's SEC opener in Gainesville.
Three Rebels will be squaring off against the flagship university of their home state when Florida visits Oxford. Senior forward DeAundre Cranston (Orlando), junior guard Eniel Polynice (Sarasota) and junior guard Chris Warren (Orlando) all hail from the Sunshine State.
KENNEDY NEEDS ONE WIN FOR CENTURY MARK
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy enters Saturday's game vs. Florida just one win 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 career record stands at 99-60 (.623 win pct.).
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 54-10 (.844 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including a 10-3 mark this year. The Rebels are 20-9 in SEC home games under Kennedy's watch.
Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and entered the week 17th in the country with an average of 79.6 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. Five players average 9 or more ppg, led by Chris Warren's 16.5 and Terrico White's 14.7.
STRONG OFF THE BENCH
Ole Miss has benefitted from strong contributions off its bench in SEC play. The Rebel bench is averaging 24.1 ppg and out-scoring the SEC opponents' bench 265-128, which is an average of 12.5 more ppg. Against Alabama, the Rebel bench out-scored the Tide bench 32-7.
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 Florida game with 1,182 career points, 21st-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 (37 games).
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 21 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.
POLYNICE SET TO ENTER EXCLUSIVE CLUB
Junior guard Eniel Polynice has been a stat sheet stuffer during his three seasons with the Rebels and is about to enter an exclusive club. He needs just one assist to reach 300 for his career. That would make him one of three players in school history with 700 career points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists. Below is the complete list:
- Todd Abernethy ('04-07): 1,036 pts, 305 rebs, 431 asts
- Jason Flanigan ('98-01): 785 pts, 329 rebs, 302 asts
- Eniel Polynice ('07-pres.): 772 pts, 369 rebs, 299 asts
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 fifth in the SEC with 16.5 ppg and second with 3.1 3-pointers per game (16th in NCAA). He poured in 23 points vs. Vanderbilt, making 5-of-9 from downtown. He scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half of the comeback win over Alabama. He dropped in 15 points with 4 3s at Kentucky. 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).
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 14.7 ppg, which is 14th-best among SEC players. He also ranks 26th in the league with 4.5 rpg. He posted 14 points vs. Vanderbilt. He had 13 points at Mississippi State. He posted a game-high 19 points and 7 rebounds at Kentucky. 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 3s 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 10.8 ppg, 4.3 rebounds/game (28th in SEC), 4.3 assists/game (leads team, 6th in SEC) and 1.3 steals/game. With 299 career assists, he needs one more to become the ninth player in school history with 300 in a career. He had 12 points, 7 assists and 4 boards vs. Vanderbilt. He led the Rebels with 14 points and 5 assists at MSU, adding 6 boards. He had 14 points at Kentucky. 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 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.
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