GAME NOTES: Wear Red For Home Finale vs. LSU
SENIOR NIGHT: Ole Miss (19-9, 7-7 SEC) vs. LSU (10-18, 1-13 SEC)
REBELS CLOSE HOME SLATE WITH LSU
Ole Miss hosts LSU for its regular-season home finale, which will honor senior DeAundre Cranston in his final home game in a Rebel uniform. The Rebels are fighting for a No. 2 seed in the SEC West, which would give them a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament. They are also one win shy of reaching 20 for the third time in the last four seasons and have a chance to finish with a winning record in league play for the first time since 2002. 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. 5 RPI) is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season.
COTTON BOWL TROPHY TO BE PRESENTED
At halftime of Thursday's game, Cotton Bowl representatives will be on hand to present the 2010 AT&T Cotton Bowl trophy to head football coach Houston Nutt and members of the Ole Miss team. The Rebels went 9-4 on the season and claimed their second straight Cotton Bowl victory with a 21-7 triumph over No. 18 Oklahoma State.
REBELS WEAR RED
The Ole Miss team will be donning red jerseys for Thursday's nationally televised game vs. LSU on ESPN, and all fans are asked to make Tad Smith Coliseum bleed red against the Tigers. Red t-shirts will be given out to the first 1,500 fans, courtesy of Coca-Cola.
- LSU leads the all-time series with Ole Miss 116-81, although the Rebels lead 15-14 in the last 29 meetings.
- The Rebels' last three victories have all featured comebacks from double-digit, second-half deficits.
- Kennedy has directed Ole Miss to a 55-11 home record in his four seasons at the helm.
- The Rebels went 1-3 with freshman Reginald Buckner out with an ankle injury, but are 18-6 when he plays.
- At 79.0 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 eight of the last 11 games, including a 50-29 edge recently vs. Auburn.
- Sophomore forward Murphy Holloway is averaging 13.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg in his last four outings, including a 15-point, 20-rebound outburst against Auburn.
- Junior guard Chris Warren has hit a 3-pointer in 38 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in school history and ninth-longest in SEC history.
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. 5) and C-USA leader UTEP (No. 50). The win over KSU is the best non-league victory by an SEC team away from its home court this season. Overall, Ole Miss is 2-6 against top-50 RPI teams and 6-8 against teams in the current RPI top 120. Among the Rebels' losses are five of the RPI's top squads - No. 4 Kentucky, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 8 Villanova, No. 15 Tennessee and No. 16 Vanderbilt - and no loss by more than 12 points. The only loss to a team currently below 100th is to Arkansas (No. 142). The Rebels are 11-4 at home, 5-4 on the road and 3-1 at neutral sites.
The presence of 6-foot-8 freshman Reginald Buckner, the team's best post defender, has been a big key to the Rebels' success. The team is 18-6 when he dresses out but went just 1-3 in the four SEC games he missed with a severe ankle sprain.
SCOUTING THE BAYOU BENGALS
LSU enters the final week of SEC play at 10-18 overall and 1-13 in league play. A 65-54 home win over then-SEC West leader Arkansas on Feb. 24 snapped the Tigers' 12-game conference losing streak. LSU followed that with a 74-59 defeat at Auburn on Saturday. Trent Johnson's club lost the majority of the key pieces of last year's SEC Championship squad that went 13-3 in SEC play. LSU does feature one of the league's top big men in Tasmin Mitchell (17.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg) Bo Spencer adds 14.9 ppg and Storm Warren 12.0.
OLE MISS-LSU SERIES
The series with the Tigers, which began in 1909, is the second-longest in Ole Miss basketball history. LSU leads the all-time series 116-81, although Ole Miss holds a 15-14 edge in the last 29 meetings. Ole Miss snapped the Tigers' three-game winning streak in the series with a 73-63 win in Baton Rouge on Jan. 23 earlier this season. The Rebels hold a 50-33 lead in games played in Oxford and have won 11 of the last 16 at the Tad Pad.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy owns a 5-4 record against LSU in his career. He faced the Bayou Bengals once as the Cincinnati head coach in 2005-06, earning a 75-72 victory at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
LSU junior forward Malcolm White is sitting out this season after transferring from Ole Miss in March of last year. The Baton Rouge native averaged 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 27 starts as a sophomore with the Rebels last season.
The Ole Miss roster features just one senior in forward DeAundre Cranston. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound native of Orlando, Fla., has helped the Rebels in the post for the last two seasons after transferring from Daytona Beach Community College. Entering Thursday's game, he has played in all 59 of the Rebels' games, with 27 starts. He has averaged 3.5 ppg and 4.3 rpg in 16.8 mpg in a Rebel uniform.
ANOTHER 20-WIN SEASON UP FOR GRABS
With a 19-9 record, Ole Miss is on the verge of reaching 20 wins for the third time in four seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels claimed 21 wins in his first year at the helm and 24 in the next before last year's injury-riddled 16-15 campaign. Ole Miss has just nine 20-win seasons in program history. A win would make Kennedy just the second coach in school history with three 20-win campaigns (Rod Barnes).
SEC TOURNAMENT SEEDING SCENARIOS
Ole Miss enters the week tied with Arkansas for second place in the SEC West standings at 7-7 behind division leader Mississippi State at 9-5. There remains a chance that Ole Miss could tie for the SEC West crown with two wins and two MSU losses. However, the Rebels can only finish as the No. 2 or No. 3 Western division seed in the SEC Tournament by virtue of two losses to MSU. A No. 2 seed would mean a first-round bye in Nashville. Arkansas is at Tennessee and State is at Auburn on Wednesday night.
WITH OR WITHOUT BUCKNER
The quality of the Rebels' play has depended heavily on the presence of freshman big man Reginald Buckner in the lineup. With Buckner, Ole Miss is 18-6 and averages 80.2 ppg while allowing just 69.5 ppg to opponents (+10.7 margin). In the four SEC games he missed with a sprained ankle, the Rebels went 1-3 and were out-scored by opponents 75.8 to 71.2 (-4.6 margin).
In league play only, the Rebels are 6-4 when Buckner plays and have out-scored SEC foes 74.7 to 71.5 (+3.2).
HOLLOWAY ON A TEAR
Sophomore forward Murphy Holloway has posted some big numbers in recent outings. In the last four games, he is averaging 13.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg, shooting 63.2 percent from the field (24 of 38) and adding 3 blocks and 5 steals. The South Carolina native notched his seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds against Auburn. His 20 boards are the most by a Rebel since 1975 and the most by an SEC player this season. He led the Rebels with 16 points and 7 rebounds in Saturday's win at Alabama.
With Saturday's win over the Crimson Tide, Ole Miss has swept the season series with Alabama for the first time since 1998. For the first time in school history, the Rebels have swept the season series with Alabama and Auburn in the same year.
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 55-11 (.833 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including an 11-4 mark this year. The Rebels are 21-10 in SEC home games under Kennedy's watch.
Ole Miss has won 186 of its last 229 games (.812 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 419-190 (.688 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
Ole Miss has a 5-4 record in true road games this season, including a 4-3 mark in league play, which is the third-best behind overall leaders Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The Rebels have won four SEC road games (Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Alabama) for the first time since claiming four in 2001. The school record for SEC road wins in a season is six (1938). Only twice in school history has Ole Miss finished with a better SEC record on the road than at home (1936 and '51).
STRONG OFF THE BENCH
Ole Miss has benefitted from strong contributions off its bench in SEC play. The Rebel bench is averaging 23.6 ppg and out-scoring the SEC opponents' bench 331-170, which is an average of 11.5 more ppg.
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 48 blocks through 24 games is a new school freshman record, eclipsing the old mark of 46 set by Sean Murphy in 1987-88. Buckner is eight blocks shy of David Dean's school record for a season (56 in 1992-93). Buckner's current total already ranks fifth-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 LSU game with 1,234 career points, 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).
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 16.6 ppg, third with 3.0 3-pointers per game (19th in NCAA), fourth with an 83.5 free-throw percentage and eighth with 3.4 assists per game. He had 12 points, 7 assists and 0 turnovers at Alabama. He scored 23 of his team-high 26 points in the second half of the comeback win over Auburn, adding a career-high 6 rebounds. He tallied 14 points vs. Florida. 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 14.8 ppg, which is 14th-best among SEC players. He also ranks 26th in the league with 4.4 rpg. He had 15 points (4-6 3s) and 6 rebounds at Alabama. He notched his best scoring performance of league play this year with 21 points in the comeback win over Auburn, also dishing out five assists. He posted 14 points vs. Vanderbilt and 13 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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