Rebels Carry Win Streak Into Semifinals

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Murphy Holloway (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Murphy Holloway (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

March 10, 2012

SEC Tournament Central | SEC Tournament Interactive Bracket

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SEC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS: #7 Ole Miss (20-12, 8-8 SEC) vs. #3 Vanderbilt (22-10, 10-6 SEC)
Saturday, March 10, 2012 | 2:30 p.m. CT
New Orleans, La. | New Orleans Arena (18,000)


MEDIA
Television: ABC (Brad Nessler, play-by-play; Jimmy Dykes, analyst; Shannon Spake, sideline reporter).
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst).
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 220, XM 199
Live Video: ESPN3.com
Live Audio: RebelVision

QUICK HITS

• The Rebels won five straight games against SEC teams for the first time since the 2001 season.
• Ole Miss has an RPI of 54, fifth-best among league schools.
• The winner between #7 Ole Miss and #3 Vanderbilt will advance to Sunday’s championship game.
• Ole Miss has 10 wins over SEC teams and has eight wins away from home this season.
• No team has beaten Ole Miss twice this season.
• The Rebels have won 20 games 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 has the 6th-most wins in SEC history (125) by a coach in his first six years in the league.
• Kennedy has the most overall wins (125) and SEC wins (46) by an Ole Miss coach in a six-year span.
• The Rebels have an overall record of 26-48 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 34th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.398).
• The Rebels have a 19-9 record when Murphy Holloway (Blue Ribbon All-SEC 2nd team) plays the whole game.

REBELS CARRY WIN STREAK INTO SEMIFINALS
A matchup with No. 3 seed Vanderbilt is the next hurdle for No. 7 seed Ole Miss to overcome as the teams meet up in Saturday’s SEC Tournament semifinals. Ole Miss won its fifth consecutive game with a thrilling 77-72 overtime victory against Tennessee in the quarterfinals, as the Rebels continue to improve their postseason resume. Ole Miss is now 10-8 against SEC foes this year and reached 20 wins for the fifth time in the last six years. Vanderbilt won the teams’ previous meeting this year in Oxford (102-76 on Feb. 16).

OLE MISS IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
The Rebels have an overall record of 26-48 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.

REBELS IN THE SEMIFINALS
Ole Miss is playing in the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 10th time in its history and the first time since 2007, Andy Kennedy’s first year at the helm. The Rebels own a 4-5 record in semifinal games all-time.

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 3-2 record in three total SEC Tournament appearances in New Orleans. This is 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. 3 seed Vanderbilt will advance to Sunday’s championship game against the Kentucky-Florida winner. The title game will tip off at noon CT, televised by ABC.

IN THE RPI
Following Friday’s games, Ole Miss is No. 54 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 48th-toughest schedule and has a 5-11 record against teams in the top 100 of the RPI. Vanderbilt’s RPI is 29.

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:
• 54 RPI, 48 SOS
• 10-8 record against SEC teams
• 5-11 record against top 100 RPI teams (4-2 home, 0-7 away, 1-2 neutral)
• Wins over Alabama (34), Miami (61) and Mississippi State (74)
• Road wins over Georgia (102) and Arkansas (110)
• Neutral-site wins over Tennessee (85), TCU (112) and Drake (134)
• 8-10 record away from home (4-8 road, 4-2 neutral)

SCOUTING THE ‘DORES
Vanderbilt advanced to the semifinals with a 63-41 win over Georgia on Friday night. The Commodores are now 22-10 overall. They earned the league’s No. 3 seed in the tournament with a 10-6 SEC record. Winners of five of their last seven games, the ‘Dores average 73.2 ppg and allow opponents to score 65.4 ppg. The SEC’s top two scorers reside in Nashville - John Jenkins (19.9) and Jeffery Taylor (16.8). Jenkins tops the league with 3.9 3-pointers per game and ranks second in 3-point percentage (45.7) and free-throw percentage (84.9). Festus Ezeli adds 10.1 ppg, and Lance Goulbourne averages a team-best 6.8 rpg.

OLE MISS-VANDERBILT SERIES
Saturday’s game will be the 113th meeting between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the hardwood. The Commodores hold a 73-39 lead in the series, which began in 1925. Ole Miss has a 3-2 edge against VU in the SEC Tournament, with their most recent meeting in the 2004 first round (Vanderbilt 70, Ole Miss 50). Vanderbilt has prevailed in 10 of the last 11 meetings overall, including a 102-76 rout of the Rebels in Oxford this year. Rebel head coach Andy Kennedy is 2-5 against Vandy in his career. In addition to a 1-5 mark with Ole Miss, he picked up a 92-83 victory at Vanderbilt during the 2005-06 campaign, his lone season as Cincinnati mentor.

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 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

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 125th win at Ole Miss (vs. Tennessee), Andy Kennedy passed future Hall of Famer Billy Donovan and has the sixth-most wins by an SEC head coach in his first six years in the league. He needs one more to match Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury at 126.
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. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) - 125

KENNEDY HAS MOST OVERALL WINS AND SEC WINS IN A SIX-YEAR PERIOD
With 20 wins this year, Andy Kennedy has the most overall wins by an Ole Miss head coach in a six-year span (125). 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).

REBELS REACH 20 WINS ... AGAIN
The Rebels have reached 20 wins for the fifth time in the last six seasons under Andy Kennedy. Ole Miss had seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons prior to Kennedy’s arrival in Oxford. He is 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).

FIVE-GAME WIN STREAK
Ole Miss is in the midst of a five-game win streak, one shy of its season-best. The Rebels have five straight wins over SEC opponents for the first time since stringing together six straight during the 2001 season. During this streak, the Rebels have out-scored their foes by an average of 10.8 points (70.8-60.0) and are +2.4 on the boards (41.0-38.6). Ole Miss has shot 43.5 percent from the field and held opponents to an amazing 33.8 percent with its stellar defense.

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 Alabama to 17 first-half points, the lowest by an SEC opponent this year.

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 1,066 points, matching Jason Harrison for 29th place in school history. He ranks fifth in school history in blocked shots (111) and needs three more to tie Johnnie Rogers for fourth place (114).

GETTING TO THE LINE
Ole Miss may not be a great free-throw shooting team, but the Rebels have gotten to the line often during their five-game winning streak. Ole Miss has attempted more than 30 free throws in each of the last five contests, converting at least 20 four of those times.

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 34th in the latest NCAA rankings) in field goal percentage defense at .398. Ole Miss is 15-3 when its opponent shoots below 40 percent from the field, which includes four of the last five 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 a 9-2 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 and 14 points and 10 boards in the win over Tennessee. Ole Miss is 19-9 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 five 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 38.6, first in offensive rebounds with 13.3 and fourth with a rebounding margin of +3.0. 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 47th in the nation in rebounding (9.1), while Reginald Buckner is fourth in the SEC and 71st 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 36th nationally.

HOLLOWAY IS MASTER OF THE GLASS
In just his third season at Ole Miss, junior F Murphy Holloway has broken into the school’s top 10 for career rebounds. He enters the Vanderbilt game with 727 boards, which is 10th-most in school history. He needs three more to pass Fred Cox (729) for ninth place on the Rebels’ all-time chart. Holloway currently averages 9.1 boards per game. Since 1980, only one other Rebel has averaged 9.0 for a whole season (Dwayne Curtis - 9.6 in 2007-08).

HOLLOWAY RETURNS WITH BIG NUMBERS
Junior F Murphy Holloway has posted some big numbers in his return to Ole Miss this year (following a one-year stint in South Carolina) and averages 11.2 ppg (24th in SEC) and 9.1 rpg (3rd in SEC, 47th in NCAA). In league play, the All-SEC second teamer (Blue Ribbon) averaged 12.0 ppg (18th in SEC) and 8.3 rpg (4th in SEC). He ranks third among SEC players with 11 double-doubles this year and ranks second among active league players with 25 in his career. He was the SEC Player of the Week after helping Ole Miss to wins over TCU and Miami. He led the Rebels to a win over Auburn with 20 points and 11 rebounds, including 12 straight points for Ole Miss during a second-half comeback. He had 15 points in a loss at No. 1 Kentucky. He has had a pair of monster games in wins over Arkansas (19 points and 14 rebounds in Oxford, 16 points and 16 boards in Fayetteville).

BUCKNER MOVES UP IN SEC CAREER BLOCKS LIST
With four blocks at Southern Miss, junior F Reginald Buckner became the Rebels’ all-time career leader in blocked shots. In just 94 games, the Memphis native has now accumulated 225 blocks, which ranks 17th in SEC history. He needs one more to match Melvin Turpin (Kentucky) for 16th place. The school record was previously held by Sean Murphy, who had 180 blocks in 117 games from 1988-91. Buckner’s 2.2 average this season ranks fourth among SEC players and 36th in the most recent NCAA rankings. He now holds the school record for blocks in a career, season and game. He has blocked at least one shot in 28 of 30 games this year and 81 of 94 games over his three-year career. His total of 66 blocks this season is the Ole Miss record by a junior and is the second-most in a season in school history. His sophomore season total of 95 is the school record.

TERRIFIC TERRANCE
When Ole Miss needed a player to step up offensively, senior F Terrance Henry answered the bell in SEC play. The All-SEC 6-foot-9 wing averaged 16.6 points over the Rebels’ last five regular-season outings, including 21 and 19 in back-to-back wins over LSU and Arkansas, respectively. He was named SEC Player of the Week after leading Ole Miss to wins over No. 15 Mississippi State and Georgia and posted back-to-back 20-point efforts and double-doubles against Georgia (24 points, 10 boards) and No. 13 Florida (21 points, 10 boards). Henry leads Ole Miss with a 12.3 scoring average for the season (18th among SEC players) and 13.0 ppg in league play (14th in SEC). His .776 free-throw percentage in SEC games ranked sixth in the league.

IN THE “NICK” OF TIME
Junior G Nick Williams stepped up his game in SEC play and ranked 20th among league players with 11.8 ppg in conference games. The Mobile, Ala., native has tallied double figures in 12 of the last 17 games, including a career-high 22-point outburst in the SEC Tournament first-round win over Auburn. He had a season-high 19 points to lead the Rebels in the double-overtime effort at Alabama. He’s also had big games in wins over Arkansas (18 points and career high-tying 8 rebounds), 15th-ranked Mississippi State (17 points) and LSU (18 points).

SUMMERS NOT AFRAID OF CRUNCH TIME
Freshman PG Jarvis Summers has shown no fear in the face of critical situations this year. It was his 27 points and crunch-time heroics that gave the Rebels an early victory at Penn State and his late free throws to seal an overtime win over Miami. Against Auburn, he directed a comeback from 12 down in the final nine minutes to force overtime, hitting all four of his 3-pointers after the nine-minute mark. He scored 22 against the Tigers to become the first Rebel with multiple 20-point games this year. Most recently, he scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Rebels come from behind in a 77-75 road win at Arkansas and scored 17 huge points in the 77-72 overtime win against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. He leads all SEC freshmen in 3-point percentage (42.4), ranks seventh with 10.1 ppg and third with 3.1 assists per game.

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