GAME 29: Ole Miss (17-11, 5-8 SEC) vs. Alabama (19-8, 11-2 SEC) Saturday 2.26.11 | 3:00 p.m. CT Oxford, Miss. | Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061)
MEDIA Live TV: SEC Network (Clay Matvick, play-by-play; Joe Dean Jr., analyst) Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 213, XM 199 Live Video: ESPN3.com
OLE MISS HOSTS SEC WEST LEADER The Ole Miss Rebels return home from a two-game road swing, but they face a formidable opponent in Alabama, which has already clinched the SEC West title. Ole Miss is 11-4 at home this season, including a 3-3 mark in SEC games. With a 5-8 league record, the Rebels are just a game behind Arkansas and Mississippi State for second place in the division. The No. 2 seed in the West earns a first-round bye in the league tournament. Chris Warren dropped a career-high 33 points on South Carolina Tuesday, but the Rebels lost 79-73. Warren drained eight 3-pointers in Columbia, which tied Keith Carter’s school record and set a new standard for an SEC game.
QUICK NOTES - Saturday’s game will be the 168th meeting between the two schools, with Alabama holding a 116-51 lead in the series. - Ole Miss has won 10 of the last 13 meetings with Alabama in Oxford. - Andy Kennedy is the fastest in program history to reach 100 wins. With 102, he now has the school record for most by one staff in a five-year span. - Kennedy is the first coach to lead Ole Miss to 5 straight winning seasons since R.L. Sullivan (1920-25). - Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks 20th in the nation with a 75.4 FT percentage. The Rebels rank 15th in the nation with 5.6 blocks per game. - Chris Warren leads the nation in free throw percentage (94.6) and is on pace to set the school and SEC record for a season. - Warren ranks 2nd in the SEC with 18.8 points per game and seventh with 3.6 assists per game. - Warren ranks 5th in SEC history with a school-record 315 career 3-pointers and is the SEC’s active leader in career points, assists, 3s and 20-pt games.
SCOUTING THE CRIMSON TIDE Alabama has already clinched the 2011 SEC West Championship with its 11-2 record in league play. The Crimson Tide boasts an overall record of 19-8 entering Saturday’s game. The Tide has won nine of its last 10 games, including Wednesday’s 51-49 squeaker over Auburn. Anthony Grant’s team is 4-4 overall in road games but has a 4-2 record in SEC road contests. The squad is built on a stifling defense, which allows just 57.9 ppg (best in SEC) to opponents. Alabama also leads the league with 9.5 steals per contest. The team ranks in the top five nationally in both of those categories. Three UA players average in double figures, led by JaMychal Green’s 16.1 ppg (7th in SEC). Tony Mitchell adds 15.8 ppg (9th in SEC) and Trevor Releford 10.3 ppg. Green leads the team with 7.4 rpg (7th in SEC).
OLE MISS-ALABAMA SERIES Saturday’s game will be the 168th meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide holds a 116-51 lead in the series, which began in 1921. The teams have split their season series in nine of the last 12 years, but Alabama swept both matchups two years ago, and Ole Miss swept the season series last year for the first time since 1998. The Tide won this year’s meeting in Tuscaloosa 74-64, despite Ole Miss rallying from 23 down in the second half to make it a six-point game late. The Rebels won last year’s meeting in Oxford when they stormed back from 23 down in the second half to beat the Tide 74-67, led by Chris Warren’s 21 points and Terrance Henry’s career-high 20. The series is tied 38-38 in games played in Oxford, but the Rebels have won 10 of the last 13 meetings at Tad Smith Coliseum. Andy Kennedy has a 4-5 career record vs. the Tide.
ALABAMA REBELS Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their “sweet home.” Sophomore guard Nick Williams is a native of Mobile and was the 2008 6A State Player of the Year. Assistant coach Torrey Ward and coordinator of operations Bill Armstrong are both from Birmingham and played collegiately at UAB, while coordinator of video services 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.
FIVE STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS With a 17-11 record, Ole Miss has clinched yet another winning season. Andy Kennedy and his staff are the first to achieve five straight winning seasons since R.L. Sullivan led Ole Miss to six straight winning seasons from 1920-25. Ole Miss did have six straight winning campaigns from 1997 to 2002 under two different head coaches.
KENNEDY HAS MOST WINS IN FIVE-SEASON SPAN With 102 wins under his belt, Andy Kennedy has led Ole Miss to the most wins in a five-year span by one coaching staff in school history. The record for any five-year span in school history (includes coaching changes) is 108, which occurred twice, from 1996-97 to 2000-01 and from 1997-98 to 2001-02.
FASTEST OLE MISS COACH TO 100 WINS The Rebels’ 69-60 win at Arkansas was the 100th victory at Ole Miss for Andy Kennedy. He reached the milestone faster than any coach in program history, doing so in his 158th game. He is the third coach in school history with 100 career victories, trailing only B.L. “Country” Graham (144 wins in 13 years) and Rod Barnes (141 wins in eight years) on the school’s career coaching victories chart. Kennedy’s .630 winning percentage (102-60) is significantly better than Graham’s (.462) or Barnes’ (.564). Kennedy is 123-73 in his sixth year overall as a head coach (includes one season at Cincinnati).
WARREN EXPLODES FOR SCHOOL RECORD AT SC Senior guard Chris Warren scored a career-high 33 points and tied a school record with eight 3-pointers at South Carolina on Tuesday. The Orlando, Fla., native tied Keith Carter’s school record of eight 3-pointers in a game (which had held since Dec. 29, 1998). In doing so, Warren set a new standard for treys in an SEC game.
GRAHAM HAS CAREER NIGHT IN ROUT OF AUBURN Zach Graham scored a career-high 30 points in a 90-59 rout of Auburn. The Suwanee, Ga., native tied the then-school record of seven 3-pointers in an SEC game, one off the overall school record. The 31-point victory was the largest winning margin for an Ole Miss team in SEC play since beating Alabama 105-71 on March 3, 2001. Ole Miss also tied the school record for team 3-pointers in an SEC game with 13. The Rebels shot 56.8 percent from the field, 52.0 percent from 3-point land and 84.4 percent from the foul line.
REBELS GET SIGNATURE WIN VS. UK Senior guard Chris Warren nailed a 25-footer with 2.9 seconds left and Ole Miss upset No. 10 Kentucky on Feb. 1. It was a huge win for the Rebels, who came into the contest with an 0-3 record in league home games. It was Ole Miss’ first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 6 Alabama in 2002, making it the biggest win in Andy Kennedy’s tenure as head coach. Ole Miss had a season-high 11 steals and forced Kentucky into 18 turnovers, the most by UK this season. After the game, Ole Miss earned two of the top three spots on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Plays. Reginald Buckner’s block of a Brandon Knight dunk attempt was No. 3, while Warren’s game-winning triple was the top play of the night.
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 70-15 (.824 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy’s tenure, including an 11-4 record this season. Ole Miss has won 201 of its last 248 games (.810 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 434-194 (.691 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
FREEBIES FALLING AT HIGH RATE The Rebels lead the SEC and rank 20th in the nation with a 75.4 FT percentage. They have shot 80 percent or better in 11 games this season, including 92.9 (13-of-14) at Arkansas, 87.5 (14-of-16) at Vanderbilt, 84.6 (22-of-26) against Tennessee and 84.4 (27-of-32) vs. Auburn. Their 95.7 FT pct. against Murray State (22-of-23) was the second-best mark in school history for a game with at least 20 attempts.
BLOCK PARTY Led by some very athletic big men, Ole Miss ranks 15th in the nation in blocked shots per game. The Rebels average 5.6 swats per contest. They have blocked eight or more shots seven times this year. They set a school record for blocks in an SEC game with 12 at Arkansas and had eight at LSU and at Alabama. Sophomore Reginald Buckner ranks 10th in the NCAA and third in the SEC with 3.1 bpg, while junior Terrance Henry adds 1.1 bpg.
EFFICIENT OFFENSE Reginald Buckner leads the league with a 60.7 FG percentage, which would rank among the nation’s leaders if he had enough attempts. Seven of the nine regulars in the Rebels’ lineup are hitting shots at better than a 40 percent clip.
Chris Warren LEADS THE WAY For the 2010-11 Rebels, most things run through senior point guard Chris Warren. A candidate for numerous accolades, he currently ranks second in the SEC in scoring (18.8), first in FT percentage (94.6), seventh in assists (3.6), third in 3-pointers made (2.7), third in assist-turnover ratio (1.8) and fourth in minutes (34.2). In league games only, he ranks third in scoring (19.1), first in FT percentage (95.2) and tied for first in 3-pointers made (3.2). Overall, he has scored 20+ points in 12 games (2nd-most among SEC players) and has led the Rebels in scoring 20 times and in assists 19 times.
WARREN LEADS NATION IN FREE THROW SHOOTING Senior point guard Chris Warren leads the nation with a 94.6 free throw percentage. He has made 139 of 147 attempts on the season and has converted 97 of his last 101. At his current pace, he would set the school and SEC record for FT percentage in a season and would rank among the all-time best seasons in NCAA history.
WARREN CRACKS TOP 3 IN CAREER POINTS With a spectacular senior seson, Chris Warren has vaulted into third place on the all-time Ole Miss scoring chart with 1,897 career points. Next on the list is second-place Joe Harvell, who scored 2,078 points from 1990-93 and ranks 18th in SEC history. Warren entered this season ranked 15th on the Rebels’ scoring chart.
WARREN MOVES UP SEC 3-POINT CHART Already with the most 3-pointers in school history, Chris Warren has moved into the top five in the SEC record books with another outstanding shooting display this year. Warren’s game-winning 25-foot bomb against No. 10 Kentucky was the 300th triple of his career. He is one of just five players in league history to reach that total. He enters the Alabama game with 315 career triples. Next on the SEC list is Tennessee legend Allan Houston, who made 346 career treys. Warren also holds the school record and ranks fourth in league history with 839 career 3-point attempts. All-Time SEC 3-Point Leaders 1. 431 Chris Lofton, Tennessee (2005-08) 2. 367 Shan Foster, Vanderbilt (2005-08) 3. 366 Pat Bradley, Arkansas (1996-99) 4. 346 Allan Houston, Tennessee (1990-93) 5. 315 Chris Warren, Ole Miss (2008-pres.)
WARREN SECURES 500-POINT, 100-ASSIST YEAR Chris Warren has scored 500 points and dished out 100 assists this season. He also reached those totals in both of his other two full seasons (2007-08 and 2009-10). Only three other players in school history have ever reached those totals for a single season: Gerald Glass in 1989-90, Rod Barnes in 1987-88 and Dave Shepherd in 1974-75.
WARREN DISHES OUT 400TH ASSIST Chris Warren served up his 400th career assist vs. Vanderbilt, becoming the fifth player in school history to reach 400 career assists. Warren enters the Alabama game with 424. He needs three more dimes to catch Jason Harrison, who ranks fourth with 427.
CAN WARREN JOIN SUPER ELITE? If senior guard Chris Warren can reach 2,000 points, he will become only the fourth player in SEC history with 2,000 points and 400 assists in a career, joining LSU’s Pete Maravich, Tennessee’s Allan Houston and Georgia’s Litterial Green. With at least five games left, Warren would need to average 20.6 points per contest to reach 2,000, not counting postseason play.
BUCKNER SWATS HIS WAY INTO RECORD BOOK Sophomore forward Reginald Buckner tied Ansu Sesay’s school record for blocks in a game with eight at Arkansas. He has also surpassed his own single-season record from last year (64) and has run his season total to 83 so far this year. In just his second year, Buckner already ranks second in school history with 147 blocks in his career. The Memphis native is 33 swats shy of the career record, set by Sean Murphy, who had 180 blocks in 117 games from 1988-91. Buckner ranks third in the SEC and 10th in the country with 3.1 blocks per game. In league games only, he is second with an average of 3.2. He has recorded five or more swats in eight games this year.
GRAHAM EXCELS AS A SENIOR Senior guard Zach Graham has been solid and steady in his final campaign. He ranks 11th in the SEC with a 14.6 scoring average and third with an 86.3 free-throw percentage. He averages 4.3 rebounds per game. In SEC play, he ranks 10th with 15.1 ppg. He posted 22 points against Murray State and led the Rebels with 16 vs. Dayton. He posted his first career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 13 boards vs. Colorado State. Graham averaged 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in three games in Mexico and was named to the Cancun Governor’s Cup All-Tournament team. He put up 18 points and 8 boards vs. Alcorn State. He tallied 13 points and 8 boards at SMU. He scored 13 points with 5 boards vs. MSU. He poured in 21 points (8-13 FGs, 5-5 FTs) against Georgia, one off his career high. He had 14 points and 5 boards at Vanderbilt. He scored 17 (7-9 FGs, 3-3 3-pt FGs) at LSU. He posted 16 points (7-7 FTs) and 5 boards, making a couple of key baskets in the upset of No. 10 Kentucky. He scored 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the win at Arkansas. He also had 17 in the home win over LSU. He shattered his previous career high with 30 points against Auburn, the most points by a Rebel this year. He drained 7-of-11 from downtown to finish one shy of the school record for 3s in a game.
GRAHAM REACHES 1,000 POINTS Zach Graham became the 32nd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau when he scored 13 points at SMU. He enters the Alabama game in 22nd place with 1,199 career points and is three points shy of passing Rod Barnes for 21st place. The Suwanee, Ga., native has accomplished the feat with steady improvement every year (averaged 5.9 ppg as a freshman, 8.5 as a sophomore, 9.2 as a junior and 14.6 as a senior). He joins Chris Warren as current 1,000-point scorers at Ole Miss.
GRAHAM NEARING LONGEVITY RECORD Senior guard Zach Graham has been a mainstay in the Rebels’ lineup since stepping foot on the Ole Miss campus, and he is approaching a school record to show for it. Entering the Alabama game, Graham has suited up for 129 games in his career, which is three shy of tying Jason Harrison’s school record of 132 games played.
HENRY STEPS IT UP Junior forward Terrance Henry has displayed his immense talent and versatility in recent outings as he has turned up his aggressiveness and production. At Vanderbilt, he scored 11 points with four blocks and a career-high four steals. He followed that performance with his first career double-double at LSU, collecting 13 points and 10 rebounds. In the upset win over No. 10 Kentucky, Henry scored 12 points with 5 rebounds, and in the win at Arkansas he had 11 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks. At Alabama, he led the team with nine rebounds and five blocks. He scored 14 points (8-of-8 FTs) against Auburn. He tied for team-high honors with 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds at MSU. His season averages are up to 9.0 ppg (third on the team) and 6.0 rpg (second on the team).
20-POINT PERFORMANCES With a career-high 33 points at South Carolina, Chris Warren posted his 12th 20-point game this season, second-most among SEC players. His 38 career 20-point games leads all active SEC players. He also leads all active league players in career points, assists and 3-pointers.
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