GAME NOTES: Road Test For Rebels At Alabama

GAME 28: Ole Miss (18-9, 6-7 SEC) at Alabama (14-13, 4-9 SEC)
Saturday 02.27
.10 | 1:00 p.m. CT
Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Coleman Coliseum (15,316)
 

MEDIA
Live TV: ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, play-by-play; Len Elmore, analyst)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network/RebelVision (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst).
Satellite Radio: XM 199, Sirius 219
Live Video: ESPN360.com

ANOTHER TEST AS REBELS TRAVEL TO ALABAMA

Ole Miss continues to try to climb back into the SEC West title race and NCAA Tournament at-large consideration when it travels to Alabama. The Rebels battled back from a 12-point halftime deficit and a 13-point hole with 9:34 left in the game to defeat Auburn 85-75 on Wednesday night, giving Andy Kennedy his 100th career victory as a college head coach. The team's 3-3 record in conference road games is third-best among SEC teams. 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.

QUICK NOTES

- Saturday's game is the 166th meeting between the two schools, with Alabama holding a 115-50 lead in the series.

- At 79.1 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 21st in the nation in scoring offense.

- Ole Miss averages the fewest turnovers per game (12.3) of all SEC teams and ranks second in assist-turnover ratio (1.1).

- The Rebels have out-rebounded their opponent in seven of the last 10 games, including a 50-29 edge in the most recent outing vs. Auburn.

- Ole Miss is 4-4 this season in true road games (3-3 in SEC road games).

- The last two Rebel victories have featured second-hallf comebacks from as many as 23 and 14 points down against Alabama and Auburn, respectively.

- Junior guard Chris Warren has hit a 3-pointer in 37 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in school history and ninth-longest in SEC history.

- Freshman forward Reginald Buckner has set a school freshman record with 47 blocks this season and needs nine more to tie the overall school record.

REBS HOPE 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 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 2-5 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 - and no loss by more than 12 points. The only loss to a team currently below 100th is to SEC West leader Arkansas (No. 126). The Rebels are 11-4 at home, 4-4 on the road and 3-1 at neutral sites.

SCOUTING THE CRIMSON TIDE

Alabama enters Saturday's game with a 14-13 overall record and 4-9 mark in SEC play. The Crimson Tide owns a 10-5 home record, including 3-3 in league games. First-year head coach Anthony Grant's team has lost six of its last seven outings, with an average margin of defeat of just 5.7 points in those six losses. Alabama features one of the league's premier defenses. UA is second in scoring defense in all games, giving up 64.1 ppg, but ranks first in league play allowing just 63.5 ppg. Mikhail Torrance leads the team with 15.3 ppg, while JaMychal Green averages 14.8 ppg and a team-high 7.2 rpg.

OLE MISS-ALABAMA SERIES

Saturday's game will be the 166th meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide holds a 115-50 lead in the series, which began in 1921. The teams have split their season series in nine of the last 11 years, but Alabama swept both matchups last season. Ole Miss stormed back from 23 down in the second half to beat the Tide 74-67 three weeks ago in Oxford, led by Chris Warren's 21 points and Terrance Henry's career-high 20. Prior to the 2004-05 season, the home team prevailed in 13 straight bouts in the series. Alabama has a 68-9 advantage in games played in Tuscaloosa. The last Rebel win there was in the 2006 SEC opener. Andy Kennedy has a 3-4 career record vs. the Tide.

ALABAMA REBELS

Several members of the Rebel family call Alabama their "sweet home." Sophomore guard Nick Williams, sitting out this season after transferring from Indiana, 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 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.

ANOTHER BIG COMEBACK WIN

The Rebels' last two victories have both utilized double-digit second-half comebacks against Alabama and Auburn. On Wednesday night, the Rebels beat the Tigers 85-75 after trailing by 12 (34-22) at the half and by 13 (58-45) with 9:34 left in the game. The team's 22 points in the first half is the second-lowest total for a half this season, while the 63 second-half points are the most in a half this season.

HOLLOWAY HAS HUGE NIGHT

Sophomore forward Murphy Holloway posted some gigantic numbers against Auburn Wednesday night. The South Carolina native's seventh double-double of the season included 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Holloway's 20 boards are the most by a Rebel since 1975 and the most by an SEC player this season. It is tied for the 10th-highest single-game rebound total in school history.

MONUMENTAL COMEBACK VS. TIDE

Ole Miss rallied from 20 down at halftime (40-20) and 23 down with 19 minutes left (43-20) to storm back for a 74-67 win over Alabama in Oxford on Feb. 6. It is believed to be the largest comeback from a halftime deficit in school history, based on records dating back to the 1949-50 season. Chris Warren and Terrance Henry both scored 18 points in the second half en route to a game-high 21 for Warren and a career-high 20 for Henry. It marked the seventh of eight times this season that Ole Miss won a game in which it trailed during the second half.

ROAD WARRIORS

Ole Miss has a 4-4 record in true road games this season, including a 3-3 mark in league play, which is the third-best behind overall leaders Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The Rebels have won three SEC road games (Georgia, LSU, Auburn) for the first time since claiming four in 2001. The school record for SEC road wins in a season is six (1938).

REBELS VALUE THE BALL

With an experienced and deep backcourt, Ole Miss has made its mark as one of the best teams in the SEC at limiting its turnovers. In fact, Ole Miss averages the fewest turnovers per game (12.3) of all SEC teams and ranks second in assist-turnover ratio (1.1). Chris Warren (1.5) and Eniel Polynice (1.5) both rank in the SEC's top 10 in assist-turnover ratio at eighth and ninth, respectively.

REBOUNDING EDGE IS KEY

Ole Miss continues to improve its rebounding throughout conference play, and it is a key element of winning games for the Rebels. They have out-rebounded the opponent in seven of the last 10 games, including a 50-29 edge in the most recent outing vs. Auburn. When Ole Miss secures the same or more rebounds than its opponent, it has a 14-2 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 140 blocks this season is 19 shy of the school record set in 1993-94, and the 12 blocks against Indiana was one shy of the school record for a game.

BUCKNER SETS FROSH RECORD, APPROACHES MORE

Freshman forward Reginald Buckner has already established himself as one of the best shot-blockers in the SEC and in school history. His 47 blocks through 23 games is a new school freshman record, eclipsing the old mark of 46 set by Sean Murphy in 1987-88. Buckner is nine blocks shy of David Dean's school record for a season (56 in 1992-93). Buckner's current total already ranks sixth-most in a season in school history.

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 Alabama game with 1,222 career points, 10 shy of Dwayne Curtis' 1,232 for 18th-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).


 

 

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