GAME 27: Ole Miss (15-11, 6-6) at Auburn (17-10, 6-6)
Wednesday 02.25.09 | 7 p.m. CT
Auburn, Ala. | Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum (10,500)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
XM Radio: Channel 201
KEY DIVISION BATTLE ON THE PLAINS WEDNESDAY
Tied for third in the SEC West with identical 6-6 league records, Ole Miss and Auburn will battle to break that tie on Wednesday in Auburn. Both teams are trying to catch Mississippi State, which is second with a 7-5 mark entering the week. The Rebels have won five of their last seven league games after starting 1-4 in SEC play. SEC Freshman of the Year candidate Terrico White has led the team in scoring in six of the last seven outings, improving his scoring average to a freshman-best 16.8 ppg in SEC games. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Murphy Holloway has had three straight double-doubles, including 18 points and 13 rebounds against Tennessee. The Rebels have a pair of Wednesday road games (Auburn, Arkansas) and a pair of Saturday home games (Alabama, Mississippi State) left on the regular season docket.
REBELS MAKING PUSH FOR POSTSEASON
Despite early season-ending injuries to key guards Trevor Gaskins, Eniel Polynice and Chris Warren, Ole Miss has improved throughout league play and put itself in a position to compete for a third straight postseason appearance down the stretch.
The emergence of freshman playmakers Terrico White and Murphy Holloway has been a big factor in the Rebels’ surge. Throughout league play, the team has become more balanced in a number of areas. Five players average eight or more points, led by David Huertas’ 17.4 ppg and White’s 16.8 ppg.
Rebounding has also been proved a big reason for the recent success. Entering league play, the team averaged just 34.9 boards per game to its opponents’ 37.1. Since then, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC with a +4.2 rebounding margin, out-rebounding SEC foes 40.0-35.8. The Rebels also lead the SEC with 13.9 offensive boards per game in league play.
Consider that Ole Miss...
has won five of its last seven games
boasts the nation’s No. 15 strength of schedule (RPIRatings.com)
has four games remaining in the regular season, vs. the SEC West’s Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 2 teams.
defeated three teams that were leading their division at the time of the game (No. 24 Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee)
has reached a 6-6 record through 12 league games for just the second time in the last seven seasons (other was 2007 when Rebels won the SEC West)
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
After starting league play 2-5, Auburn has been one of the SEC’s hottest teams with four wins in its last five outings to improve to 6-6 and a tie with Ole Miss for third place in the SEC West standings. The Tigers are 4-2 at home in league play and have won each of the last three such outings (over Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi State). Jeff Lebo’s entire starting rotation is made up of juniors and seniors. DeWayne Reed tops the team with 13.2 ppg in all games and 13.9 ppg in league contests. Korvotney Barber adds 12.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg, while he averages a double-double against SEC foes with 13.0 ppg and 10.7 rpg. Tay Waller scores 12.6 ppg and ranks second in the league with 2.9 three’s per outing.
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES
Wednesday’s game will be the 118th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 70-47. Ole Miss leads by a slim 10-9 margin in the last 19 meetings. The Rebels earned a 78-59 victory earlier this month in Oxford. All five starters scored in double figures in the contest, led by Terrico White’s 19 points. Auburn swept the season series with a pair of upset victories a year ago, while Ole Miss won both meetings in 2006-07. The Tigers own a 46-10 all-time advantage in Auburn.
Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their “sweet home”. Assistant coach Torrey Ward and coordinator of operations Bill Armstrong are both from Birmingham and played collegiately at UAB, while operations assistant 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.
LEAST EXPERIENCED TEAM IN THE NATION (almost)
Departures and injuries have led to Ole Miss being ranked as the second-least experienced team in the nation, according to updated stats on KenPom.com. The Rebels rank No. 343 of 344 on the list, which calculates the accumulated experience of all the team’s players who have logged minutes on the floor this season. Also among the least experienced squads in the country are fellow SEC teams Arkansas (339) and Vanderbilt (338).
Currently, Ole Miss has no seniors among its scholarship members, while the team features an active roster with just three scholarship players who had any Division I experience prior to this season (junior David Huertas and sophomores Zach Graham and Malcolm White). The remainder of this year’s significant contributors is made up of four freshmen and a junior college transfer.
DEFENSE SHINES IN WIN OVER DOGS
Ole Miss has been forced to re-invent itself a couple of times this season due to injuries, and one of the results has been an increasingly stingy defense. Against Georgia on Saturday, the Rebels held the Bulldogs to 47 points, the fewest by an SEC opponent since a 55-45 win over Arkansas in 2004. Georgia’s 14 field goals and 25.0 percent FG shooting are the lowest marks by any SEC team in a league game this season.
The defensive effort helped Ole Miss surpass its largest margin of victory in an SEC home game under Andy Kennedy (+22, 69-47) for the second time in three weeks (+19, 78-59 win over Auburn).
DIVISION LEADER KILLERS
Ole Miss has played the spoiler role in a trio of recent games against teams that were at least tied for an SEC division lead at the time of the matchup. In the last three contests against such teams, Ole Miss won 85-80 at home over No. 24 Kentucky, 67-63 at Mississippi State and 81-65 over Tennessee in Oxford. That means the Rebels have as many SEC wins over division leaders (3) as non-division leaders (3) this year.
Despite facing just two ranked teams 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 ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation by RPIRatings.com. With a 15-11 record, Ole Miss ranks No. 65 on that list, sixth among SEC schools. Five teams the Rebels have faced are ranked in the top 40 - Utah (11), Louisville (12), West Virginia (13), Tennessee (25) and LSU (33) - while two more are in the top 50 - Florida (41) and South Carolina (44).
HOLLOWAY GETS SECOND SEC FROSH AWARD
After helping Ole Miss to wins over Tennessee and Georgia, forward Murphy Holloway was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, his second such honor of the season. The Irmo, S.C., native averaged 15.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in the two victories. He produced his best SEC game of the season with a career-high 18 points (8-of-10 FGs) along with 13 rebounds in an 81-65 win over the Vols. He then recorded his third straight double-double with 12 points and 10 boards in a 69-47 victory over the Bulldogs.
HITTING THE BOARDS
Ole Miss has established itself as one of the most physical teams on the boards in SEC play. The Rebels rank first in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (13.9) and second in rebounding margin (+4.2) and total rebounds per game (40.0) in league contests. Ole Miss has out-rebounded the other team in eight of 12 league outings. The Rebels dominated Florida on the glass with a 46-22 advantage (second-largest margin by a Rebel squad this season) and out-boarded Tennessee 44-30.
Freshman forward Murphy Holloway leads the team with a 6.5 rebounding average in all games (14th-best in SEC) and 7.3 rpg in league outings (10th in SEC). Sophomore forward Malcolm White is second on the squad with 5.2 rpg in all games and 5.7 rpg in SEC play.
The Rebels put together a three-game winning streak, tied for their longest this season, prior to a defeat at Vanderbilt. The wins included an 85-80 triumph over then-SEC East leading No. 24 Kentucky (first over UK since 2001), a 67-63 victory at then-SEC West leader Mississippi State (first in Starkville since 1998) and a 78-59 triumph over Auburn (then the largest margin of victory at home vs. SEC team under Andy Kennedy).
REBELS ENJOY LEADING AT THE HALF
Ole Miss has been known for a few comeback wins, but the Rebels seem to be at their best when they are leading at halftime. This year, the squad has a 9-1 record when up at the break and a 6-10 mark when trailing.
INJURIES DETER BUT DON’T DESTROY
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.
Sophomore guard Zach Graham is battling through a partially torn patella tendon in his right knee, while freshman guard Terrico White recently played through a bone bruise to his right knee that he suffered at S.C.
And still, the Rebels have found their new identity and won five of their last seven games with the very young roster that is left.
80 POINTS = OLE MISS WIN
The Rebels boast an unblemished 6-0 record this season when scoring 80 or more points. The team’s record is 9-11 when it does not reach the 80-point mark. In three seasons under Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss owns a 32-3 record (.914 win pct.) when scoring at least 80.
FREE-THROW SHOOTING EXPLOITS
Ole Miss ranks second among SEC teams with a 73.2 free-throw percentage this season. 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 statistics at 80.4 percent (123-of-153), while Zach Graham boasts an 82.1 percent mark from the line (46-of-56) and Terrance Henry is hitting at a 79.5 percent clip (31-of-39).
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 nearly tripled the games in which it shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe this year (8) compared to all of last season (3).
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 4th-leading scorer (David Huertas - 18.9 ppg)
2 SEC Freshman of the Week selections (Terrico White
twice, Murphy Holloway twice)
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
77.6 percent of minutes played 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
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 week, White ranks fourth among league freshmen in scoring at 11.9 ppg, while Holloway is 11th at 8.7 ppg. In league games, White ranks first with 16.8 ppg and Holloway 12th with 9.6 ppg.
White is making the fifth-most 3-pointers among freshmen with 1.7/game and handing out the seventh-most assists with 2.3/game. In SEC games, he ranks first among freshmen with 2.6 3’s/game and fourth with 2.9 assists/game.
Holloway, the team’s top rebounder, ranks third among league freshmen and 14th among all players with 6.5 rpg. He is second among SEC freshmen with a 56.2 FG percentage and 1.3 steals per game. In league play, he also ranks third among freshmen with 7.3 rpg.
TERRICO WHITE, BUDDING SUPERSTAR
Freshman guard Terrico White has been hitting on all cylinders since league play began and is making a push for many postseason accolades with his outstanding body of work. His 16.8 scoring average in league games ranks eighth among all SEC players and first among league freshmen. He also ranks 11th in assists (2.9/game), 11th in FG percentage (44.9), fourth in 3’s per game (2.6) and fifth in 3-pt FG percentage (36.0) in SEC outings. The superb athlete known for highlight-reel dunks has also drained 3+ field goals from downtown in nine of the last 11 contests. He has led the Rebels in scoring in six of the last seven games, including three 20+ point outings. White led with 21 points vs. Tennessee and 19 against Georgia. He poured in a career-high 23 at Vanderbilt. He had 19 points and a career-high 8 rebounds in the win over Auburn. He had 18 points (12 in 2nd half) to lead the Rebels to victory at Mississippi State. His 21 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds helped Ole Miss upset No. 24 Kentucky. 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 then-career highs with 18 points against Arkansas and 22 vs. LSU.
HOLLOWAY TURNING IN MONSTER GAMES
Freshman forward Murphy Holloway has become a beast on the boards in recent weeks and has produced three straight double-doubles entering Wednesday’s game at Auburn. He now has a team-high four this season, 2nd-most among SEC freshmen. Holloway had 12 points and 10 rebounds vs. UGA after he tallied a career-high 18 points to go with 13 boards against Tennessee. He recorded 13 and 11 at LSU. Had five straight double-figure scoring games from 1/3 to 1/21. Posted first double-double of season with 15 pts and 16 rebs vs. FAMU.
Holloway leads the team and ranks 14th in the SEC with a 6.5 rebounding average, while he is fifth in the SEC with 3.1 offensive boards per game. In league play, he ranks 10th among all players with 7.3 rpg.
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has been a scoring machine for the Rebels this season, averaging 18.9 points, good for fourth among SEC players and 41st 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. His 17.4 ppg in SEC play ranks seventh among league players. He ranks third in the SEC overall in 3’s per game (2.7) and 3-point percentage (36.5). 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 2/23)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 4th/41st 18.9/game
FG Percentage 15th 42.3
FT Percentage 4th 80.4
3-pt FG Percentage 3rd 36.5
3-pt FGs Made 3rd 2.7/game
Minutes Played 7th 32.4/game
HUERTAS LANDS ON SEASON TREY CHART, AGAIN
For the second time in his two seasons at Ole Miss, David Huertas has shot his way onto the school’s all-time single season chart for most 3-pointers. With his 70 trifectas this season, he has vaulted into 7th on the list and is now 5 treys behind his own mark of 75 from last year.
OLE MISS SEASON 3-POINT FIELD GOALS
1. 103 Chris Warren (35 games, 2008)
2. 96 Clarence Sanders (34 games, 2007)
3. 83 Aaron Harper (31 games, 2002)
4. 79 Joe Harvell (28 games, 1992)
5. 77 Keith Carter (33 games, 1999)
6. 75 David Huertas (35 games, 2008)
7. 70 David Huertas (26 games, 2009)
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 70 treys this year, Huertas has moved all the way up to sixth place on the all-time list with 145. Warren nailed 25 from downtown prior to his season-ending injury this year and now sits in eighth with 128.
OLE MISS CAREER 3-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. 145 David Huertas (61 games, 2008-present)
7. 131 Joezon Darby (81 games, 1996-98)
8. 128 Chris Warren (46 games, 2008-present)
MALCOLM TURNING HEADS
Throughout league play, Malcolm White has continued to improve, and he took another step forward with a big game Saturday against Georgia. The sophomore forward nearly posted a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, and he blocked a career-high five shots. Entering the Kentucky game, 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) with 6 rebounds in a season-high 36 minutes of action against the 24th-ranked Wildcats. Since Dec. 13, White’s season averages have gone from 3.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg to currently 6.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He has scored double figures in six of the last eight games, while his shot blocking has been a constant all year as he ranks seventh in the SEC with 1.4 bpg.
RUNNING THE POINT
Freshman Terrico White has proven himself more than capable since taking over the starting point guard duties nine games ago. The Memphis native has been the team’s leading scorer in six of those nine contests, including all five wins during that span. White began the season working on the wings, but in the last nine games as the primary ball handler, he has put up 17.1 ppg and 4.4 rpg while dishing out 30 assists to just 16 turnovers. Following the season-ending injury to preseason All-SEC PG Chris Warren on Dec. 18, the team turned to freshman Will Bogan, who had served as Warren’s backup for the season’s first 11 games. Bogan received the starting nod in the first six games after the injury.
T. WHITE: SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK AGAIN
For the second time in three weeks, guard Terrico White was named SEC Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Feb. 2. White averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in Rebel wins over No. 24 Kentucky and at Mississippi State. He scored 21 points with 5 boards, 7 assists and just 2 turnovers vs. UK, then had 12 of his team-high 18 points in the 2nd half to help Ole Miss win in Starkville.
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.
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 was 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 seven 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 tied his season high with 9 points against Tennessee, while pulling down six boards ... Recorded 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in the win over No. 24 Kentucky ... 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 (7-for-23 3-pt FGs on the season).
Zach Graham: Playing with a partially torn patella tendon in his right knee ... Regularly guards the opposing team’s top offensive threat on the perimeter ... Has hit 46-of-56 free throws (82.1 pct.) through 26 games ... Career-high 4 assists to go with 7 points and 6 boards at LSU ... Fourth straight double-digit scoring game with 11 points vs. Auburn (3-of-4 from downtown) ... 13 points at MSU ... 11 points and 5 rebounds with 3 trifectas 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 79.5 percent clip (31-of-39) ... Set a season high with 10 points in start against Auburn, adding 5 rebounds and 3 assists ... Had 9 points at New Mexico, also blocked 3 shots ... Scored 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.