Rebels Head To Atlanta For SEC Tournament

March 8, 2011

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SEC TOURNAMENT 1ST ROUND: W3 Ole Miss (19-12, 7-9 SEC) vs. E6 South Carolina (14-15, 5-11 SEC)
Thursday 3.10.11 | 3:30 p.m. ET
Atlanta, Ga. | Georgia Dome

Live TV: SEC Network (Brad Nessler, play-by-play; Jimmy Dykes, analyst; Shannon Spake, reporter)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst).
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 220, XM 199
Live Video:

With the SEC Tournament comes an opportunity for every league team to play for an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in addition to postseason positioning. Ole Miss will begin its quest for a league tourney title on Thursday as the West No. 3 seeded Rebels take on the East No. 6 seed South Carolina. The program’s lone SEC tournament championship came in 1981. The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to play East No. 2 Kentucky on Friday (3:30 p.m. ET). With a 19-12 record, Andy Kennedy’s squad is on the brink of a fourth 20-win season in the last five years. No Rebel coach has ever produced four 20-win campaigns.

- Ole Miss has a 23-47 record in 48 appearances all-time at the SEC Tournament, which includes one tourney championship, in 1981.
- South Carolina leads the all-time series 14-13, while the series is even at 3-3 in the league tourney.
- Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks 18th in the nation with a 75.9 FT percentage, which is on pace to set the school record.
- With 104 wins, Andy Kennedy has the most victories by an Ole Miss coach in a five-year span.
- Chris Warren is the first Rebel to get All-SEC first team since Justin Reed in 2004, while Reginald Buckner was chosen to the SEC All-Defensive team.
- Warren leads the nation in free throw percentage (93.5) and is on pace to set the school and SEC records for a season.
- Warren ranks 5th in SEC history with a school-record 322 career 3-pointers and is the SEC’s active leader in career points, assists, 3s and 20-pt games.
- Zach Graham will play in his 133rd game on Thursday, which will set the school record.

The Rebels have an overall record of 23-47 in 48 SEC Tournament appearances and are 9-19 in tournament action since the league went to the two-division format in the 1991-92 season. The Rebels have reached four SEC championship contests and have a 1-3 record in those games. Ole Miss took home the tournament title in 1981, defeating Georgia in the championship game. Last season, the team lost to Tennessee 76-65 in the quarterfinals in Nashville.

The SEC Tournament returns to Atlanta for the first time since 2008 and the ninth time in the last 14 years. It is being held in the Georgia capital for the 12th time ever, including the first SEC tourney in 1933. Ole Miss has a 4-11 record in the tournaments that have taken place in Atlanta. The Rebels have advanced to the semifinals twice in the Georgia Dome, most recently in 2007. Their other semifinal appearance was in 1998.

South Carolina enters the SEC Tournament with a 14-15 overall record and is the East No. 6 seed after compiling a 5-11 record in SEC games. Darrin Horn’s club has dropped eight of its last nine games, with its lone win coming against Ole Miss (79-73 on 2/22) in Colubmbia. The Gamecocks rank fourth in the NCAA (second in SEC) with 6.1 blocked shots per game. Bruce Ellington tops three players who average double figures with his 13.0 ppg. Sam Muldrow posts 11.4 ppg and a team-best 7.2 rpg, while Ramon Galloway adds 10.5 ppg. Muldrow leads the SEC and ranks fourth in the nation with 3.3 blocks per game.

Thursday’s game will be the 28th time the two schools have faced each other on the hardwood, with South Carolina holding a narrow 14-13 advantage. The Gamecocks earned a 79-73 win in Columbia this year behind 23 points from Sam Muldrow and despite Chris Warren’s career-best 33-point output. The teams have faced each other six times at the SEC Tournament and have split the meetings 3-3. They last met in 2005 when Ole Miss claimed a 53-52 first-round win at the Georgia Dome. Andy Kennedy is 1-5 against the Gamecocks (1-4 with Ole Miss, 0-1 with Cincinnati).

Two Rebels will return to their home state for this year’s SEC Tournament. Ole Miss senior guard Zach Graham (Suwanee) and junior guard Trevor Gaskins (Alpharetta) both hail from the Atlanta area. Transfer Jelan Kendrick, who has to sit out this year per NCAA transfer rules, is also an Atlanta native.

The winner between West No. 3 seed Ole Miss and East No. 6 seed South Carolina will advance to Friday’s quarterfinals to face East No. 2 seed Kentucky, which earned a first-round bye. That game will tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET, as well.

With a 19-12 overall record, Ole Miss is trying to reach the 20-win plateau for the fourth time in five seasons under Andy Kennedy. The program had reached 20 wins a total of seven times prior to Kennedy’s arrival. No Ole Miss coach has ever recorded four 20-win campaigns.

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.

With 104 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.

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 8 years) on the school’s career coaching victories chart. Kennedy’s .627 winning percentage (104-62) is significantly better than Graham’s (.462) or Barnes’ (.564).

The Rebels lead the SEC and rank 19th in the nation with a 75.9 FT percentage, which is on pace to break the school record (75.2 in 1970-71). They have shot 80 percent or better in 12 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, 84.4 (27-of-32) vs. Auburn and 83.3 (20-of-24) at 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.

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 and rank fourth among SEC teams. They have blocked eight or more shots eight times this year. They set a school record for blocks in an SEC game with 12 at Arkansas and then posted 11 in the second meeting with the Razorbacks. They also had eight at LSU and at Alabama. Sophomore Reginald Buckner ranks ninth in the NCAA and second in the SEC with 3.1 bpg, while junior Terrance Henry adds 1.1 bpg.

With a 30-point explosion at Auburn, Dundrecous Nelson set the school freshman record for points in a game. Terrico White previously had the record with 29 points against Arkansas in 2009. Nelson, who hails from Jackson, Miss., also tied the school record for 3-pointers by a freshman (Trevor Gaskins and Chris Warren share the mark).

Senior guard Chris Warren scored a career-high 33 points and tied a school record with eight 3-pointers at South Carolina on Feb. 22. 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.

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 with an 18.9 scoring average - the highest by a Rebel since Joe Harvell averaged 25.0 in 1991-92. He is first in FT percentage (93.5), fifth in assists (3.8), fourth in 3-pointers made (2.7), third in assist-turnover ratio (1.9) and fourth in minutes (34.4). In league games only, he ranks second in scoring (19.3), first in FT percentage (92.8), second in 3-pointers made (3.0), fifth in assist-turnover ratio (1.8) and ninth in assists (3.4). Overall, he has scored 20+ points in 14 games (2nd-most among SEC players) and has led the Rebels in scoring 22 times and in assists 22 times.

Senior point guard Chris Warren leads the nation with a 93.5 free throw percentage (157-of-168). At this pace, he will set the school and SEC record for FT percentage in a season and rank among the all-time best seasons in NCAA history. The current school record is 90.1 by David Rhodes (1971-72) and the SEC record of 91.2 is shared by three players - Kentucky’s Kyle Macy (1979-80), Tennessee’s Scooter McFadgon (2003-04) and Kentucky’s Travis Ford (1993-94). Remarkably, Warren also leads all SEC players in total number of free throws made.

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. Entering the SEC Tournament, Warren needs 42 points to reach 2,000.

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 SEC Tournament with 322 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 4th in league history with 864 career 3-pt 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. 322 Chris Warren, Ole Miss (2008-pres.)

With a spectacular senior seson, Chris Warren has vaulted into third place on the all-time Ole Miss scoring chart with 1,958 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.

Chris Warren has moved into the top three in the school record books in both assists and free throws made. He enters the SEC Tournament with 443 career assists, 13 shy of tying Rod Barnes (456) for second place. Warren has made 408 free throws and is one shy of tying Joe Gibbon (409) for second place.

Chris Warren has scored more than 500 points and dished out more than 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.

With 24 points vs. Arkansas, Chris Warren posted his 14th 20-point game this season, second-most among SEC players. His 40 career 20-point games leads all active SEC players. He also leads all active league players in career points, assists and 3-pointers.

Senior guard Zach Graham has been a mainstay in the Rebels’ lineup since stepping foot on the Ole Miss campus. When Graham touches the floor in the first game of the SEC Tournament, he will establish a school record with his 133rd career game played. The previous record was 132, held by Jason Harrison (1999-2002).

Zach Graham became the 22nd player in school history to reach the 1,200-point plateau when he scored 17 points vs. Alabama. He enters the SEC Tournament in 19th place with 1,238 career points and is 22 points shy of passing B.L. “Country” Graham (no relation) for 18th. 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 14.4 as a senior).

Senior guard Zach Graham has been solid and steady in his final campaign. He ranks 14th in the SEC with a 14.4 scoring average and third with an 86.2 free-throw percentage. He averages 4.5 rebounds per game. In SEC play, he ranks 15th with 14.7 ppg and 5th with an 86.8 FT percentage. 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. He posted his second career double-double with 17 points (11-12 FTs) and 10 boards in the win over Alabama. He had 15 points (5-6 3-pt FGs) in the Senior Day win over Arkansas.

For the second straight year, Zach Graham has been named a member of the SEC Community Service Team. Graham is a regular participant in Reading with the Rebels and spends time with children at local daycare centers. He has volunteered at a summer basketball camp and has joined teammates in visiting patients at the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital and Children’s Cancer Clinic at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. He and his teammates have taken time to visit with underprivileged children from the local Boys and Girls Club, building scarecrows with them during the fall and delivering Christmas gifts to them in December. He has also participated in the SEC “Together We Can” food drive, collecting items for the Oxford Food Pantry.

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 92 so far this year. In just his second year, Buckner already ranks second in school history with 156 blocks in his career. The Memphis native is 24 swats shy of the career record, set by Sean Murphy, who had 180 blocks in 117 games from 1988-91. Buckner ranks second in the SEC and ninth in the country with 3.1 blocks per game. In league games only, he is second with an average of 3.1. He has recorded five or more swats in nine games this year. Ole Miss is 12-5 when Buckner records at least three blocks in a game and 7-7 when he has less than three or doesn’t play.

Having improved on his offensive presence from a year ago, Reginald Buckner leads the SEC with a 60.8 field-goal percentage this season (90-of-148). He is averaging 7.1 points per game. Those totals are up from 57.8 percent and 4.1 ppg last year as a freshman.

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. He had 13 points and 5 boards at Auburn. He scored 13 points with two blocks vs. Arkansas. His season averages are up to 9.3 ppg (third on the team) and 5.8 rpg (second on the team).



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