Huertas Leads Rebels To 65-52 Opening Win Over Arkansas State

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OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - It's no secret that the Ole Miss Rebels will rely heavily on freshmen contributions, but when the issue was in doubt Friday night, it was veteran guard David Huertas who stepped up and delivered.

Huertas scored 24 points, 18 in the second half, and rallied the Rebels to a 65-52 win over Arkansas State. Huertas was 8-of-11 from the field, added six rebounds and a pair of assists.

"We needed David to make plays tonight and he did," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "I had a lot of questions about our freshmen and newcomers and once David got us out in front, we breathed a little bit and settled in and played better."

Preseason All-SEC point guard Chris Warren added 14 points, but struggled from the field, missing his first 11 shots. The Rebels, who featured seven newcomers in a 10-player rotation, finished 22-of-61, 32 percent, from the field.

The loss spoiled the debut of Arkansas State head coach John Brady, who led LSU to SEC Championships and a Final Four appearance. The Red Wolves, led by Shawn Morgan with 13 points, had a 27-23 halftime lead before falling off the pace in the second half.

"We defended, we rebounded and we competed," Brady said. "What we need to do is make a basket or two and we'll do that. This is not our defining moment. We're a work in progress and we want to be playing our best in the new year, but I'm proud of how we competed tonight."

Huertas opened with second half with eight consecutive points and scored 13 in the opening seven minutes as Ole Miss took a 39-33 lead. The Rebels gradually pulled away, building its biggest lead at 55-41 on a three-point shot by Huertas with 8:53 left. Arkansas State never got closer than nine points again,

"We're a young team, but I think we grew up from the first half into the second half," Huertas said. " We're going to be all right. We've got to get better, but it's a boost of confidence to get the win."

The Rebels were outrebounded 43-42, but compensated by forcing 15 turnovers and hitting 18-of-26 from the free throw line.

"We struggled and that's an understatement," Kennedy said. "Chris (Warren) really, really struggled. Arkansas State is quick and tough to the ball and caused us to be hesitant, especially in the first half.

"After we got the lead, we relaxed and our defensive effort tonight was pretty good. We learned some things about ourselves."


 

 

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