• The Rebels have won each of their last four games (vs. LSU, at Arkansas, vs. Alabama, vs. Auburn). • Ole Miss has an RPI of 53, fifth-best among league schools. • The winner between #7 Ole Miss and #2 Tennessee will advance to Saturday’s semifinals. • Tennessee won the regular-season matchup 73-60 in Knoxville (Feb. 22). • No team has beaten Ole Miss twice this season. • The Rebels need one win to reach 20 for the fifth time in the last six seasons. • SEC coaches tabbed Terrance Henry All-SEC 2nd team and Reginald Buckner All-Defensive team. • Andy Kennedy is tied for the 6th-most wins in SEC history (124) by a coach in his first six years in the league. • Kennedy has the most overall wins (124) and SEC wins (46) by an Ole Miss coach in a six-year span. • The Rebels have an overall record of 25-48 in 50 SEC Tournament appearances, with one tourney title in 1981. • The Rebels rank 2nd in the SEC and 15th in the most recent NCAA rankings with 5.3 blocks/game. • Ole Miss ranks third among SEC teams and 41st nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.402). • The Rebels have an 18-9 record when Murphy Holloway (Blue Ribbon All-SEC 2nd team) plays the whole game.
BIG GAME FOR REBELS, VOLS IN SECOND ROUND Two teams hoping to make a statement to the NCAA selection committee will square off in the second round of the SEC Tournament as Ole Miss battles Tennessee on Friday. The No. 7 seeded Rebels won their fourth straight game with a 68-54 victory over Auburn in the first round behind Nick Williams’ career-high 22 points. No. 2 seed Tennessee earned a first-round bye. Ole Miss is now 9-8 against SEC foes this year and needs one more win to reach 20 for the fifth time in the last six years. Tennessee won the teams’ previous meeting this year in Knoxville (73-60 on Feb. 22) and their last SEC Tournament matchup (76-65 in 2010 2nd round).
OLE MISS IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT The Rebels have an overall record of 25-48 in 50 SEC Tournament appearances. 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 (See complete SEC Tournament history on pages 9 and 10). Last season in Atlanta, the team beat South Carolina 66-55 in the first round before falling to Kentucky 75-66 in the second round.
SEC TOURNAMENT IN NEW ORLEANS The SEC Tournament returns to New Orleans for the third time overall and the first time since 2003. The other was in 1996. Ole Miss now owns a 2-2 record in three total SEC Tournament appearances in New Orleans. This will be the first time it has been hosted at the New Orleans Arena. Opened on October 29, 1999 at a cost of $112 million, the New Orleans Arena is the home of the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets and has hosted the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two years. Located adjacent to the Louisiana Superdome, the arena has a seating capacity of 18,000 for basketball.
UP NEXT The winner between No. 7 seed Ole Miss and No. 2 seed Tennessee will advance to Saturday’s semifinals to face the winner between No. 3 Vanderbilt and No. 11 Georgia. That semifinal game will tip off at 2:30 p.m. CT, televised by ABC.
IN THE RPI Following Thursday’s games, Ole Miss is No. 53 in the nation in the RPI rankings, according to RealTimeRPI.com. That ranking is fifth-best among SEC schools. Ole Miss has played the nation’s 43rd-toughest schedule and has a 5-11 record against teams in the top 100 of the RPI. Tennessee’s RPI is 77.
POSTSEASON RESUMÉ The surging Ole Miss Rebels have placed themselves back in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid with their recent play. Here’s a breakdown of some of the team’s numbers and accomplishments: • 53 RPI, 43 SOS • 9-8 record against SEC teams • 5-11 record against top 100 RPI teams (4-2 home, 1-7 away, 0-2 neutral) • Wins over Alabama (33), Miami (51) and Mississippi State (71) • Road wins over Georgia (99) and Arkansas (111) • Neutral-site wins over TCU (110) and Drake (134) • 7-10 record away from home (4-8 road, 3-2 neutral)
SCOUTING THE VOLS Tennessee enters the SEC Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation. Cuonzo Martin’s Vols have won four in a row and eight of their last nine games overall. They earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a 10-6 record in league play. UT averages 68.9 ppg and holds opponents to 65.1 for a +3.9 scoring margin. Their rebounding margin of +3.4 ranks second in the SEC behind Kentucky. Trae Golden tops the squad with 13.4 ppg, while All-SEC second teamer Jeronne Maymon adds 12.6 ppg and a team-best 7.8 rpg. SEC All-Freshman team selection Jarnell Stokes, who left high school early to join the Vols in January, contributes 9.1 ppg and 7.5 rpg.
OLE MISS-TENNESSEE SERIES The Rebels and Vols have met 107 times, with Tennessee holding a 69-38 lead in a series that began in 1924. The Vols have won four straight in the series, including a 73-60 win in Knoxville on Feb. 22 this year. The teams have met 11 times in the SEC Tournament, with Ole Miss boasting a 6-5 edge in those games. Andy Kennedy is 2-5 against the Vols in his career.
BATTLE ON THE GLASS This game will feature two of the SEC’s top rebounding teams. In all games, Ole Miss ranks second in rebounding offense (38.5) and third in rebounding margin (+3.4), while Tennessee is fifth in rebounding offense (36.2) and second in margin (+3.4). The Vols out-rebounded the Rebels 40-28 in their first meeting this year in Knoxville.
TOUGH TO BEAT TWICE Ole Miss has not lost twice to any team this season, and the Rebels will attempt to keep that trend alive when they face Tennessee on Friday.
HENRY, BUCKNER EARN SEC POSTSEASON HONORS Senior F Terrance Henry was voted to the All-SEC second team by the league coaches, and junior F Reginald Buckner was chosen to the SEC All-Defensive team, the league office announced Tuesday. Henry, who averaged 13.0 ppg in conference play, receives the first All-SEC accolade of his career. Buckner makes the SEC All-Defensive team for the second straight year and is the only Rebel to make the team since its inception in 2008.
KENNEDY’S FIRST SIX YEARS RANKS AMONG ALL-TIME SEC GREATS With his 124th win at Ole Miss (vs. Auburn), Andy Kennedy is now tied with future Hall of Famer Billy Donovan for the sixth-most wins by an SEC head coach in his first six years in the league. 1. Rick Pitino (Kentucky) - 150 2. Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) - 145 3. Joe B. Hall (Kentucky) - 135 4. Wimp Sanderson (Alabama) - 127 5. Rick Stansbury (Mississippi State) - 126 6. Billy Donovan (Florida) - 124 6. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) - 124
KENNEDY HAS MOST OVERALL WINS AND SEC WINS IN A SIX-YEAR PERIOD With 19 wins this year, Andy Kennedy has the most overall wins by an Ole Miss head coach in a six-year span (124). With eight league victories this season, his total of 46 is also the most SEC wins over a six-year span. Kennedy already ranks third in Ole Miss career victories behind B.L. “Country” Graham (144 wins in 13 seasons) and Barnes (141 wins in 8 seasons).
ALMOST TO 20 WINS ... AGAIN The Rebels need one more victory to reach 20 for the fifth time in the last six seasons. A win over Tennessee would give Andy Kennedy his fifth 20-win season. Ole Miss had seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons prior to Kennedy’s arrival in Oxford. He would become just the sixth coach in SEC history to guide his teams to 20+ wins in five of his first six seasons. The others: Joe. B. Hall (Kentucky), Don DeVoe (Tennessee), Rick Pitino (Kentucky), Tubby Smith (Kentucky) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee).
WINNING SEASONS Ole Miss will boast a sixth straight winning season in 2011-12. The last time the school had six straight winning campaigns was the 1996-97 to 2001-02 seasons. Andy Kennedy is only the second coach in school history to guide the Rebels to six straight winning seasons. The other was R.L. Sullivan (1920-25).
THIRD STRAIGHT VICTORY A GOOD ONE FOR REBELS Ole Miss grabbed a quality “W” in its regular-season finale against Alabama. The Rebels led the whole game and bested the Tide, who were in the nation’s top 30 in the RPI, 60-51 in Oxford. The Ole Miss defense held Alabama to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor as the Rebels improved to 13-3 this season when the opponent shoots below 40 percent. Ole Miss limited Alabmaa to 17 first-half points, the lowest by an SEC opponent this year.
REBELS SNAG BIG COMEBACK VICTORY AT ARKANSAS Last Tuesday’s 77-75 win at Arkansas saw the Rebels come from 15 points down almost midway through the second half. The second-half burst of freshman G Jarvis Summers (16 of his 17 points came after halftime) and late-game heroics of senior F Terrance Henry (game-winning 3-point play with 8 seconds left) helped Ole Miss to its fourth straight victory in Fayetteville and its eighth in the last nine overall against the Hogs. Most importantly, it gave Ole Miss another road win to add to its postseason tournament resumé. Henry is the only Ole Miss player ever to win four straight games at Bud Walton Arena.
STINGY DEFENSE LEADS TO ROUT OF LSU Ole Miss shut down LSU’s attack with a stellar defensive showing in a 72-48 victory on Feb. 25. The Rebels gave up the fewest points to an SEC opponent since 2009 (69-47 win over Georgia). They held LSU to the Tigers’ season low of 31 percent shooting from the floor and 17.4 percent from behind the arc. It was the fourth time this year that Ole Miss has held an opponent below 50 points.
HENRY REACHES 1,000 POINTS, ELITE CLUB AT OLE MISS Against LSU, senior F Terrance Henry eclipsed 1,000 career points to become the 33rd member of the 1,000-point club at Ole Miss. He became just the second player in school history to reach 1,000 points and 100 blocks, joining former All-American Rahim Lockhart (1,160, 132). Henry now has 1,047 points and needs 20 more to pass Jason Harrison (1,066) into 29th place in school history. He ranks fifth in school history in blocked shots (109) and needs five more to tie Johnnie Rogers for fourth place (114).
LOCKING DOWN ON “D” Ole Miss has established itself as one of the better defensive teams in the SEC this year. The Rebels rank third in the SEC (and 41st in the latest NCAA rankings) in field goal percentage defense at .402. Ole Miss is 14-3 when its opponent shoots below 40 percent from the field, which includes three of the last four games. Ten different times the Rebels have held their opponent below 60 points, including four times under 50 and a pair of games under 40.
SCORING 70 USUALLY MEANS A WIN Ole Miss has an 8-2 record this year when it scores at least 70 points, while the Rebels are 11-10 when they fail to reach the 70-point mark.
THE HOLLOWAY FACTOR The court presence of junior F Murphy Holloway has been of measurable value for the Rebels this year. The second team All-SEC selection (Blue Ribbon) was sorely missed after he sprained his ankle in the second half against Middle Tennessee (Dec. 21). The Rebels went on to drop that contest and two of the next three without him. He returned against Arkansas to score 19 points, grab 14 rebounds and effectively energize his teammates in leading the Rebels to victory. He has shined brightly of late, including a 13-point, 13-rebound effort in the first-round SEC Tournament win over Auburn. Ole Miss is 18-9 this year when Holloway plays the whole game.
BUCKNER IS KEY TO THE REBELS’ SUCCESS Throughout his Rebel career, Reginald Buckner’s presence and production has been key to the team’s sucess. This year is no different, as Ole Miss has a 9-2 record when the junior forward has double-digit rebounds. He has cracked double figures on the glass in three of the last four games, each resulting in a Rebel victory.
SIZE ADVANTAGE Ole Miss, which rates as the ninth-tallest team in the country (according to KenPom.com), is taking advantage of its significant height and length advantage against most of its opponents this year. No scholarship player on the roster is listed shorter than 6-4, while seven Rebels are listed at 6-7 or taller. Ole Miss ranks second among SEC teams with a rebounding average of 38.5, first in offensive rebounds with 13.3 and third with a rebounding margin of +3.4. In SEC play, Ole Miss led all teams with 38.1 rebounds per game and ranked third with a +3.0 rebounding margin. Individually, Murphy Holloway ranks third among SEC players and 51st in the nation in rebounding (9.0), while Reginald Buckner is fourth in the SEC and 69th nationally (8.3). The Rebels also block 5.3 shots per game, ranking second in the league and 15th in the NCAA. They are led by Buckner’s 2.2 swats per game, which ranks him fourth in the SEC and 34th nationally.
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