SENIOR DAY: Ole Miss (16-13, 7-8) vs. Mississippi State (18-12, 8-7)
Saturday 03.07.09 | 4 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. | C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
XM Radio: Channel 201
MUCH AT STAKE IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will battle for in-state bragging rights and third place in the SEC Western Division in the final game of the regular season Saturday afternoon. Ole Miss has a chance to sweep the season series with State for the first time since 1998. Rebel senior non-scholarship players Ryan Brown and Patrick Spach will be honored during a pre-game “Senior Day” ceremony. The Rebels are coming off a thrilling 98-91 overtime win at Arkansas on Wednesday. Without leading scorer David Huertas (bruised foot), the Rebels scored their way to the road victory behind career highs from Terrico White (29), Zach Graham (20) and Will Bogan (16). Ole Miss won despite using just seven players against the Hogs. A leading candidate for SEC Freshman of the Year, White is averaging 20.7 ppg in the team’s last 10 contests.
250 FREE STUDENT TICKETS TO BE GIVEN AWAY
Ole Miss basketball and the Ole Miss ticket office have agreed to give away 250 free student tickets for Saturday’s game against arch-rival Mississippi State. Students can pick up tickets any time Friday, March 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ticket office at the front of Tad Smith Coliseum. A valid student I.D. is required to pick up the complimentary student tickets, limit one per student. The tickets will be for students who have not already purchased student season tickets.
TERRICO WHITE - NATION’S BEST FRESHMAN?
Since he took over as the Rebels’ starting point guard early in the SEC schedule, Terrico White has been nothing short of sensational in his rookie campaign. The Memphis, Tenn., native has perhaps been as important to his team’s success as any freshman in the nation. He is lighting up the scoreboard with his 18.3 ppg in SEC play, sixth-most among all players and tops among freshmen.
In fact, White’s 20.7 scoring average in the 10 games since Jan. 27 ranks fourth among all freshmen in the nation during that span, behind NC Central’s Jamar Briscoe (26.0), Liberty’s Seth Curry (21.4) and High Point’s Nick Barbour (21.1).
After starting the season in a backup role on the wings, White was forced to switch to a brand new position for him and try to replace preseason All-SEC first teamer Chris Warren. Since then the electrifying athlete has seemed to increase his production with nearly every game.
Terrico White Notes:
In league play, ranks 6th with 18.3 ppg, 3rd with 2.9 3’s/game and 11th with 2.9 apg. 1st among freshmen in ppg and 3’s/game, 4th in apg.
Has seven games of 20+ points in league play, including four of the last five.
Team’s leading scorer in nine of last 10 games.
Since taking over as starting PG, has 39 assists to just 25 turnovers in 12 games.
His 29 points at Arkansas were the most by a Rebel freshman since Keith Carter had 29 in 1995-96.
Scoring totals from 1/27 to 3/4: 21, 18, 19, 23, 13, 21, 19, 24, 20, 29
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Mississippi State snapped a three-game losing skid with an 80-71 win over Florida Wednesday night, improving the Bulldogs’ overall record to 18-12 and their league record to 8-7. MSU sits in third place in the SEC West and can finish third or fourth depending on the outcome of Saturday’s contest in Oxford. The Bulldogs outscore their opponents 74.8-69.4 for the season and lead the nation with 7.7 blocked shots per game. Jarvis Varnado, the team’s top scorer and rebounder at 13.1 ppg and 9.1 rpg, also tops the nation in blocks with 4.7/game. Ravern Johnson adds 12.6 ppg, Barry Stewart 11.9 ppg and Dee Bost 11.4 ppg and 4.3 apg.
OLE MISS-STATE SERIES
Saturday’s game will be the 239th meeting between the two schools, with the Bulldogs holding an all-time series lead of 133-105 in the SEC’s most-played rivalry. Ole Miss got 18 points from Terrico White and 16 from David Huertas when it earned a 67-63 win over MSU in Starkville earlier this season, its first win there since 1998. That year was also the last time the Rebels swept the season series with the Bulldogs. The teams split the season series each of the last three years, with each winning on its home court.
The Rebels hold a 77-40 series advantage in games played in Oxford and have taken nine of the last 13 at Tad Smith Coliseum. Chris Warren scored 22, Eniel Polynice added 14 and Dwayne Curtis posted 10 points and 16 rebounds in a 74-63 win in Oxford a year ago.
BULLDOG COACHING TIES
Ole Miss assistant coach Owen Miller will be countering a familiar program on Saturday. Miller served the same position at Mississippi State from 1994-95 until 1996-97. In his first coaching experience, he helped Richard Williams’ Bulldogs to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1995 and a Final Four trip the following year. MSU won the SEC West crown twice in his tenure and captured the league tournament title in 1996.
OLE MISS SENIORS TO BE HONORED
It will be a relatively short “Senior Day” ceremony for one of the nation’s youngest teams, as Ole Miss will honor senior non-scholarship guards Ryan Brown and Patrick Spach during pre-game Saturday. Between the two, they have helped prepare Ole Miss in runs to back-to-back postseason berths and the 2007 SEC Western Division Championship. Brown maintains a 3.23 GPA as a biological science major, while Spach will graduate with a degree in management. Each has been a member of the UMAA Honor Roll during his career.
WHAT A WIN
Already down three key members of the backcourt, it’s hard to imagine that the nation’s “least experienced team” could play without its leading scorer at 18.5 ppg and still win a road game in one of the toughest environments in the league, but that’s exactly what the Ole Miss did on Wednesday night in Fayetteville.
Playing without junior David Huertas (bone bruise in foot), the Rebels sent just seven players onto the court (four true freshmen, two sophomores and a JUCO transfer) and defeated Arkansas 98-91 in overtime in front of more than 14,000 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Three Rebels notched a career high in points - Terrico White with 29, Zach Graham with 20 and Will Bogan with 16 - while Ole Miss out-rebounded Arkansas 46-36 and out-scored the Hogs 63-47 after being down 44-35 at halftime.
REBELS MAKING PUSH FOR POSTSEASON
Despite early season-ending injuries to key guards Trevor Gaskins, Eniel Polynice and Chris Warren, Ole Miss has been resilient in 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 White’s 18.3 ppg and David Huertas’ 16.8.
Consider that Ole Miss...
has won six of its last 10 games (including two SEC road victories).
boasts the nation’s No. 27 strength of schedule (CBSSports.com RPI).
defeated three teams that were leading their division at the time of the game (No. 24 Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee).
is playing without three key guards, making the team the least experienced in the nation according to KenPom.com.
LEAST EXPERIENCED TEAM IN THE NATION
Departures and injuries have led to Ole Miss being ranked as the least experienced team in the nation, according to statistics published on KenPom.com. The Rebels rank No. 344 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.
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 44-6 (.880 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum over the last three seasons, including a 12-3 mark this year. The Rebels had won four straight SEC games at home prior to Saturday’s loss to Alabama. An 80-78 loss to West Virginia on Dec. 3 snapped a 25-game home win streak over non-conference opponents.
Ole Miss has won 175 of its last 213 games (.822 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 410-185 (.689 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
BIG BIRTHDAY WEEK
Two Ole Miss players celebrate birthdays this week. Monday was Kevin Cantinol’s 21st birthday (born 3/2/88), while Terrico White turns 19 on Saturday (born 3/7/90). Assistant coach Michael White joined Cantinol with a birthday on Monday.
MARCHING STRONG TO THE FINISH
The Rebels have enjoyed playing in the month of March since Andy Kennedy took the reins in 2006-07. Over the last three seasons, Ole Miss boasts a 10-3 record in March. That includes a 6-0 mark in regular-season games, 0-2 in SEC Tournament contests and 4-1 in NIT competition.
HITTING THE BOARDS
Ole Miss has established itself as one of the most physical teams on the boards in SEC play. The Rebels rank second in the conference in rebounding margin (+3.8), total rebounds per game (39.9) and offensive rebounds per game (13.7) in league contests. Ole Miss has out-rebounded the other team in 10 of 15 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 6.4 rebounding average in all games (14th-best in SEC) and 7.0 rpg in league outings (11th in SEC). Sophomore forward Malcolm White, who has 38 boards in the last four games, is second on the squad with 5.6 rpg in all games (20th in SEC) and 6.5 rpg in conference play (16th in SEC).
Ole Miss produed an impressive comeback from a nine-point halftime deficit in its overtime win at Arkansas on Wednesday, but the Rebels have also had to come back all year from injury after injury.
This week the team was recognized for its resiliency when it was named one of 12 finalists for the ninth annual V Foundation Comeback Award. The award, given in memory of the late Jim Valvano to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, is presented in conjunction with ESPN, and the recipient will be announced during ESPN’s basketball Final Four/NIT weekend coverage.
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 junior guard David Huertas missed Wednesday’s game at Arkansas with a bone bruise in his foot. Freshman guard Terrico White has 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 six of their last 10 games with the very young roster that is left.
Gaskins, Polynice and Warren have had successful surgeries and are in the midst of their rehab programs and expect to be ready before the start of next season. Gaskins and Polynice are expected to receive medical redshirts, while it is doubtful that Warren will be eligible for the medical redshirt based on the number of games he had already played (11).
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 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.
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. 27 in the nation by CBSSports.com. With a 16-13 record, Ole Miss ranks No. 67 on that RPI list, fifth among SEC schools. Four teams the Rebels have faced are ranked in the top 25 - Louisville (9), Utah (10), Tennessee (21) and West Virginia (22) - while two more are among the top 50 in LSU (31) and South Carolina (41).
FREE-THROW SHOOTING EXPLOITS
Ole Miss ranks second among SEC teams and 47th in the nation with a 72.9 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, 93.3 percent (14-15) vs. Florida A&M and 93.8 percent (15-16) at Auburn. David Huertas ranks fourth in the SEC statistics at 80.1 percent (125-of-156), while Zach Graham boasts an 82.4 percent mark from the line (61-of-74).
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 tripled the number of games in which it shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe this year (9) compared to last season (3).
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).
TERRICO WHITE, BUDDING SUPERSTAR
Freshman guard Terrico White has been hitting on all cylinders since league play began and is making a push for SEC Freshman of the Year and perhaps national Freshman of the Year with his outstanding body of work. His 18.3 scoring average in league games ranks sixth among all SEC players and first among league freshmen. He also ranks third in 3’s per game (2.9), 11th in assists (2.9/game), 12th in FG percentage (45.0) and sixth in 3-pt FG percentage (36.4) in SEC outings. The superb athlete known for highlight-reel dunks has also drained 3+ field goals from downtown in 12 of the last 14 contests. He has led the Rebels in scoring in nine of the last 10 games, including six 20+ point outings during that time. He poured in a career-high 29 in the overtime road win at Arkansas Wednesday, the most points by a Rebel freshman since Keith Carter scored 29 in a double-overtime game against Southern Miss in 1995-96. White had 24 points at Auburn for a then-career high. He led with 21 points vs. Tennessee and 19 against Georgia. He poured in 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.
MALCOLM TURNING HEADS
Throughout league play, Malcolm White has continued to improve, and the sophomore forward proved that against Auburn last Wednesday when he pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, the most by a Rebel since Justin Reed had 19 against SE Louisiana in 2003. He followed that with 8 points and 8 boards in the win at Arkansas a week later. White scored a big game against Georgia, nearly posting a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, while blocking 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 5.6 rpg. His shot blocking has been a constant all year as he ranks eighth in the SEC with 1.3 bpg. In fact, White’s 39 blocks this season are tied for the most ever by a sophomore in Ole Miss history.
HOLLOWAY TURNING IN MONSTER GAMES
Freshman forward Murphy Holloway has become a beast on the boards in recent weeks and has produced four double-doubles in the last six outings. He has a team-high five double-doubles this season, 2nd-most among SEC freshmen. Holloway posted 11 points and 10 rebounds in the win at Arkansas on Wednesday. He 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 6.4 rebounding average, while he is seventh in the SEC with 3.0 offensive boards per game. In league play, he ranks 11th among all players with 7.0 rpg.
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has been a scoring machine for the Rebels this season, averaging 18.5 points, good for fourth among SEC players and 52nd in the nation. At his current pace, Huertas would finish with the highest season scoring average by a Rebel since Justin Reed scored 18.5 ppg in 2003-04. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in 12 contests. He ranks fourth in the SEC overall in 3’s per game (2.6) and fifth in 3-point percentage (35.9). A bone bruise to his foot cause him to miss his first game of the season at Arkansas Wednesday. 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 3/5)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 4th/52nd 18.5/game
FT Percentage 4th 80.1
3-pt FG Percentage 5th 35.9
3-pt FGs Made 4th 2.6/game
Minutes Played 10th 32.2/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 74 trifectas this season, he has vaulted into 7th on the list and is now one trey behind his own mark of 75 from last year. Huertas’ 149 treys are the most ever by a Rebel in a two-year span.
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. 74 David Huertas (28 games, 2009)
RUNNING THE POINT
Freshman Terrico White has proven himself more than capable since taking over the starting point guard duties 12 games ago. The Memphis native has been the team’s leading scorer in nine of those 12 outings, including all six wins during that span. He began the season working on the wings, but in the last 12 games as the primary ball handler, White has put up 18.9 ppg and 4.3 rpg while dishing out 39 assists to 25 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.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Will Bogan: Shattered his previous career highs with 16 points and 7 assists to help the Rebels to a 98-91 OT victory at Arkansas ... Went 4-4 from the FT line in overtime to seal the win ... 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 ... Scored 8 points vs. Alabama (3-3 FGs, 2-2 3-pt FGs), at Florida and 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 at Arkansas, going a perfect 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from the FT line ... 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 (8 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 61-of-74 free throws (82.4 pct.) through 29 games ... Dropped in a career-high 20 points in the OT win at Arkansas, adding 4 rebounds and 4 assists ... Tallied 15 points (including 7-of-8 FTs) at Auburn ... 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 74.4 percent clip (32-of-43) ... 5 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists at Arkansas ... Pulled down seven rebounds at Auburn ... Set a season high with 10 points in start against Auburn, adding 5 boards 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.