GAME NOTES: Rebels Host Auburn Tigers
GAME 27: Ole Miss (17-9, 5-7 SEC) vs. Auburn (13-14, 4-8 SEC)
REBELS HOST THE AUBURN TIGERS
Ole Miss closes out a three-game homestand with the visiting Auburn Tigers. The Rebels dropped both home games last week to No. 17 Vanderbilt (82-78) and Florida (64-61), despite holding a lead within the last six minutes of both contests. Ole Miss is looking to avoid its first four-game losing streak in Andy Kennedy's tenure. The average margin of defeat in the team's seven league losses is 5.6 points, while the average margin of victory in the five wins is 8.0 points. Ole Miss' NCAA Tournament resumé is founded on some quality non-league wins. The Rebels beat current top-10 ranked Kansas State 86-74 in Puerto Rico and current top-25 ranked UTEP also on a neutral court. The win over KSU (No. 6 RPI) is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season.
- Wednesday's game will be the 120th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 71-48. Ole Miss has won 12 of the last 16 outings against Auburn in Oxford, though.
- Andy Kennedy enters the game just one win shy of 100 for his career (99-61).
- Kennedy has directed Ole Miss to a 53-11 home record in his four seasons at the helm.
- At 17-9, the Rebels have surpassed last year's win total of 16.
- At 78.8 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 20th in the nation in scoring offense.
- Ole Miss leads all SEC teams in assist-turnover ratio (1.2) and has the fewest turnovers per game of any SEC squad (12.2).
- With five assists against Florida, junior guard Eniel Polynice became 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 36 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in school history and ninth-longest in SEC history.
REBS HOPE FOR A RETURN TO 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 have neutral-site wins over the hot Kansas State Wildcats (RPI No. 6) and C-USA leader UTEP (No. 53). The win over KSU is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season. Ole Miss has gone 1-5 since freshman big man Reginald Buckner went down with an ankle injury and hasn't played at full strength. Buckner was averaging 8.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg in the two contests before the injury.
Overall, Ole Miss is 6-8 against teams in the current RPI top 115. Among the Rebels' 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 is to SEC West leader Arkansas (No. 126).
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Auburn comes to Oxford looking to even its record to .500 as it sports a 13-14 overall mark and 4-8 record in SEC games. The Tigers beat SEC West leading Arkansas at home on Saturday by a 92-83 count, including a 29-point outburst (7 3-pointers) by Tay Waller. Jeff Lebo's team scores 76.1 ppg and allows 74.0 ppg. The team's guard-heavy lineup ranks second in the SEC in 3-pointers per game (8.3) and third in steals per game (8.3). DeWayne Reed leads four Tigers averaging double-figure points with his 16.0 ppg. Waller scores 14.2 ppg, Lucas Hargrove 13.5 ppg and a team-high 7.3 rpg and Frankie Sullivan adds 12.9 ppg. Reed is seventh in the SEC in scoring, fifth in assists (4.4/game) and eighth in steals (1.4/game).
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES
Wednesday's game will be the 120th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1928. The Tigers hold an all-time series lead of 71-48. Ole Miss owns a 10-9 edge in the last 19 meetings and won earlier this year on the Plains, 84-74, behind 20 points from Chris Warren and 19 from Terrico White. The Rebels hold a 34-23 advantage in games played in Oxford and have won 12 of the last 16 contests at Tad Smith Coliseum.
REBELS, TIGERS NOT AFRAID TO LET IT FLY
Wednesday's matchup will pit two of the SEC's top 3-point shooting teams against each other. Auburn ranks second in the league with 8.3 3s made per game, while Ole Miss is right behind the Tigers in third with 8.0 per game. They are two of only three league teams (Miss. State) to have attempted more than 580 3s and made more than 200 on the season.
KENNEDY NEEDS ONE WIN FOR CENTURY MARK
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy enters Wednesday's game vs. Auburn 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 99-61 (.619 win pct.).
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. They have out-rebounded the opponent in six of the last nine games. When Ole Miss secures the same or more rebounds than its opponent, it has a 13-2 record, while the Rebels are 4-7 when they get out-rebounded.
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 50th in the nation with 2.0 blocks per game, has helped the Rebels average 5.2 swats per contest, fifth-best among SEC teams and 30h in the country. The team's total of 135 blocks is already third-most in a season in school history, and the 12 blocks against Indiana was one shy of the school record for a game.
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 54-11 (.831 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including a 10-4 mark this year. The Rebels are 20-10 in SEC home games under Kennedy's watch.
Ole Miss has won 185 of its last 228 games (.811 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 418-190 (.688 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
STRONG OFF THE BENCH
Ole Miss has benefitted from strong contributions off its bench in SEC play. The Rebel bench is averaging 24.0 ppg and out-scoring the SEC opponents' bench 288-132, which is an average of 13.0 more ppg. Against Alabama, the Rebel bench out-scored the Tide bench 32-7 and against Florida it was a 23-4 difference.
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 Auburn game with 1,196 career points, five shy of Rod Barnes' 1,201 for 20th 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 22 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 ENTERS EXCLUSIVE CLUB
Junior guard Eniel Polynice has been a stat sheet stuffer during his three seasons with the Rebels and has just entered an exclusive club. With five assists against Florida, he eclipsed 300 for his career. He is 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.): 776 pts, 371 rebs, 304 asts
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 14.5 ppg, which is 14th-best among SEC players. He also ranks 26th in the league with 4.4 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.
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