GAME NOTES: Rebels Meet Tigers In NIT 2nd Round
NIT SECOND ROUND: #2 seed Ole Miss (22-10) vs. #3 seed Memphis (24-9)
REBELS MEET TIGERS IN NIT SECOND ROUND
No. 2 seed Ole Miss moved into the second round of the NIT with an 84-65 win over Troy on Wednesday and will host regional rival No. 3 seed Memphis for Friday's game. The winner advances to play in next week's quarterfinals against the Texas Tech-Jacksonville winner. If Ole Miss prevails, it will host that quarterfinal game on Tuesday or Wednesday. The Rebels and Tigers have not met since 2004. Ole Miss is making its ninth appearance in the NIT and first since 2008, when the Rebels made a run all the way to the Final Four held at New York City's Madison Square Garden.
A pre-game tailgate will be held from 3-5 p.m. outside Tad Smith Coliseum in the Northeast parking lot, adjacent to the tennis courts. There will be music and concessions, and Q93.7 FM will have a live remote as they countdown to tipoff between the Rebels and Tigers.
GENERAL PUBLIC TICKETS SOLD OUT
All tickets available to the general public for Friday's NIT second-round game between Ole Miss and Memphis have sold out, the Ole Miss ticket office announced Thursday. The only tickets left are general admission tickets available to Ole Miss students, faculty and staff (with valid Ole Miss IDs) at $4 each, up to two per ID. Those can be picked up at the ticket office in front of Tad Smith Coliseum anytime before noon on Friday.
- Ole Miss has five wins in its last six outings.
- The Rebels are 11-8 all-time in nine NIT appearances, including a 9-1 record in NIT home games.
- Memphis has a 27-11 lead in the all-time series, while Ole Miss enjoys a 7-6 edge in games played in Oxford.
- Andy Kennedy is the second head coach in school history to guide the team to at least three postseason berths in his first four seasons.
- Kennedy has led Ole Miss to 20+ wins for the third time in his first four seasons. He is the second Rebel coach ever to reach the 20-win mark three times.
- The Rebels have already broken the school record for blocked shots in a season and are 8 shy of the season 3-point record.
- Junior All-SEC guard Chris Warren has hit a 3-pointer in 42 consecutive games, which broke the previous record of 41 held by Aaron Harper. It's the fifth-longest streak in SEC history and one shy of becoming the third-longest.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Wesley Witherspoon made a layup as time expired to send Memphis to a 73-71 win over St. John's and the second round of the NIT. In his first season as head coach, Josh Pastner has led the Tigers to a 24-9 overall record. Memphis finished second in Conference USA with a 13-3 league record after going a perfect 16-0 and 33-4 overall last season under departed coach John Calipari. The team is 17-3 in home games and 7-4 in road games this season. Memphis out-scores opponents by an average of 10.3 points (75.3-64.9) and entered the week ranked 10th in the nation in turnover margin and 20th in 3s per game. Duke transfer Elliot Williams leads four Tigers averaging double figures with his 18.2 scoring average, to go with 4.1 rpg and 3.8 apg. Witherspoon adds 12.5 ppg, Roburt Sallie 10.7 ppg and Doneal Mack 10.4 ppg.
OLE MISS-MEMPHIS SERIES
Friday's game will be the 39th overall meeting between the regional rivals in a series that dates back 100 years to their first meeting in January 1910. The Tigers hold a 27-11 lead in the series, while Ole Miss enjoys a 7-6 edge in games played in Oxford. This will be the first ever postseason meeting between the two teams. They have not met since December 2006, when 16th-ranked Memphis prevailed 82-70 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. The last Rebel win came in 2004 at the FedEx Forum, when Tommie Eddie scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 65-53 victory.
OLE MISS IN THE NIT
The Rebels are making their ninth overall NIT appearance and third in the last four seasons. Ole Miss has an 11-8 record in all NIT games after Wednesday's opening-round win over Troy. In their last NIT berth in 2008, the Rebels advanced to the semifinals in New York City for the first time in school history. The Rebels have a 9-1 record in NIT home games and have won eight straight contests in Oxford dating back to the 1983 NIT. The lone loss in an NIT home game was a 61-59 defeat to Virginia Tech in the 1982 second round. Ole Miss is 5-2 in NIT games under head coach Andy Kennedy. They are 1-0 this year and went 3-1 in 2008 and 1-1 in 2007.
A victory Friday would advance the Rebels to a quarterfinal meeting with the winner between No. 5 seed Texas Tech and No. 8 Jacksonville, which would take place in Oxford on either March 23 or 24. Texas Tech and Jacksonville play Saturday. The host school for each round is based on the higher seed. The NIT Final Four is March 30 and April 1 at New York's Madison Square Garden.
FINE SHOWING IN FIRST ROUND WIN
Ole Miss cruised to an 84-65 win over Troy in Wednesday's first round of the NIT behind Terrico White's 27 points and an impressive all-around effort. The Rebels eclipsed 80 points for the 14th time this year and out-rebounded the Trojans by 15 (47 to 32). Ole Miss dished out 18 assists while committing only seven turnovers.
THREE POSTSEASON BERTHS IN FOUR YEARS
Ole Miss is making its third NIT appearance in the last four seasons (2007, 2008, 2010). Andy Kennedy is the second head coach in school history to guide the Rebels to at least three postseason berths in his first four seasons.
KENNEDY LEADS OLE MISS TO 20 WINS, AGAIN
Andy Kennedy has led the Rebels to a 22-10 record, becoming just the second coach in school history with three 20-win campaigns (Rod Barnes), doing so in his first four seasons at the helm. He is the ninth coach in SEC history to record 20+ wins in three of his first four campaigns. The Rebels claimed 21 wins in his first year and 24 in the next before last year's injury-riddled 16-15 campaign. Kennedy now boasts three of the 10 20-win seasons in program history. Ole Miss has recorded 22 wins for just the fifth time in program history. The program has notched 23 or more just three times.
SEC WEST CHAMPS
Ole Miss claimed its fifth SEC Western Division title by finishing with a 9-7 league record this season, tied atop the division with Mississippi State. The Rebels also won the West crown in 2007 (Kennedy's first season), 2001 and back-to-back years in 1997 and 1998.
Ole Miss boasts a 51-12 record (.810 win pct.) against teams outside the SEC since Andy Kennedy took over in 2006-07, which includes a 35-1 record in games played in Oxford. This year's team is 13-2 overall against non-league foes after the squad went 9-5 a season ago. The 2007-08 Rebels finished the regular season with a perfect 14-0 record against non-league foes, becoming the second Rebel squad to accomplish that feat (1948-49).
OLE MISS VERSUS CONFERENCE USA FOES
In non-SEC play, Conference-USA is Ole Miss' most faced league, and Memphis is the fourth C-USA opponent for Ole Miss this season. The Rebels are 3-0 so far this season (wins over Southern Miss, UTEP and UCF) and have an all-time record of 79-97 (.449 winning percentage) against current members of Conference USA. Ole Miss has a 14-6 record versus current C-USA teams since the league was formed in the spring of 1995.
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 57-11 (.838 win pct.) in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including a 13-4 mark this year.
Ole Miss has won 188 of its last 231 games (.814 win pct.) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 421-190 (.689 win pct.) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
WARREN MOVING UP IN 1,000-POINT CLUB
With 14 points against UCF, junior point guard Chris Warren became the 31st player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Warren enters the Memphis NIT game with 1,319 career points, 15th-most in school history. He reached 1,000 points in his 60th career game, tied for the fifth-fastest pace in school history with all-time leading scorer John Stroud. Gerald Glass is the fastest Rebel to reach the milestone (37 games).
WARREN TIES HIS OWN SCHOOL RECORD
With 103 3-pointers this season, All-SEC junior guard Chris Warren has tied his own school record for 3s in a season that he set as a freshman in 2007-08. He is the only Rebel to ever eclipse the century mark in triples and has now done that twice in his career.
ANOTHER SCHOOL RECORD BROKEN BY WARREN
With three more 3s in the NIT game vs. Troy, junior guard Chris Warren broke the school record with 42 consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal, formerly held by Aaron Harper. Warren's streak is the 5th-longest in SEC history and one shy of tying for the third-longest.
BUCKNER SETS FROSH BLOCKS RECORD, APPROACHES ANOTHER
Freshman forward Reginald Buckner has already established himself as one of the best shot-blockers in the SEC and in school history. His 53 blocks is a school freshman record and is just three shy of David Dean's school record of 56 for a season (1992-93).
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