GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Ole Miss vs. LSU
By Alex Cox
Media Relations Assistant
OXFORD, Miss. -- DeAundre Cranston plays his final home game as a Rebel when Ole Miss takes on the LSU Tigers tonight at 8 p.m. CT in a very red Tad Smith Coliseum.
The Rebels will be donning red jerseys for the nationally televised game on ESPN, and all fans are asked to make Tad Pad bleed red against the Tigers. Free t-shirts will be given out to the first 1,500 fans, courtesy of Coca-Cola.
At halftime of the 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 football team.
The Rebel hoops team (19-9, 7-7 SEC) enters its regular-season home finale in the midst of a battle for the No. 2 seed in the SEC West, which would give them a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament. The Rebels will also see their first winning season in league play since 2002 if they defeat LSU, who leads the all-time series against Ole Miss 116-81.
"Closing down the regular season, everybody's still got a lot on the line as relates to seeding and postseason aspirations, and we're no different," said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who owns a 5-4 record against LSU in his career. "We certainly want to finish strong."
A 6-foot-9 forward and the lone senior on the Rebels' roster, Cranston has averaged 3.5 points per game along with 4.3 rebounds per game during his time at Ole Miss. The 260-pound Orlando, Fla., native has been on the roster for two seasons and has played in all 59 of the Rebels' games after transferring from Daytona Beach Community College. He has recorded 27 starts as a Rebel.
Cranston's froncourt mate Reginald Buckner has been a difference maker for the Rebels this season, as the team is 18-6 with him in action and was 1-3 in the four SEC games he missed with a severe ankle sprain. Buckner, the team's best post defender, holds the freshman school record with 48 blocks this year.
In the Rebels' last four games, sophomore forward Murphy Holloway has averaged 13.0 pointes per game and 11.3 rebounds per game, shooting 63.2 percent with 3 blocks and 5 steals. Holloway notched 20 rebounds against Auburn, the most by a Rebel since 1975 and the most in the SEC this season.
Guards Chris Warren and Terrico White continue to top the squad in scoring, averaging 16.6 and 14.8 points per game, respectively. Warren ranks fifth in the SEC in points per game and third in the SEC in 3-pointers per game, averaging 3.0. Warren currently holds the second longest streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal with 38 straight games, the ninth longest streak in the SEC.
"Chris is running our team and making the shots that need to be made," Kennedy said. "He made a huge three in the second half in Tuscaloosa, and he had a huge three in our comeback against Auburn."
White had 15 points and 6 rebounds at Alabama, but his best performance came against Auburn, scoring 21 points with 5 assists.
LSU (10-18, 1-13 SEC) is coming off of a 59-74 loss at Auburn and is 2-1 against Ole Miss under head coach Trent Johnson, who holds a 37-26 record during his tenure at LSU.
"We're continuing to get better, probably at a slower rate than any of us would like, but we were fortunate enough to get a win against Arkansas who was playing without Michael Washington, then went to Auburn and couldn't guard them," Johnson said.
Tasmin Mitchell, a fifth-year senior from Denham Springs, La., looks to play in his 135th game as a Tiger forward, topping the previous record of 134 by Garrett Temple, who graduated last year. Mitchell, who also holds the career record for minutes played and career starts at LSU, has 103 double-figure scoring games and 27 double-doubles in his college career. He averages 17.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, ranking third in the SEC in both categories.
Junior guard Bo Spencer, a Baton Rouge, La., native, scored 23 points including three 3-pointers in the Tigers' last game against Auburn. The 6-foot-2 guard averages 14.9 points per game and is 83.6 percent from the free-throw line, ranking third in the league.
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