• Ole Miss has held each of its first two opponents under 40 points for the first two times in the Andy Kennedy era. • Ole Miss returns six lettermen and three starters from last year’s team that went 20-14 and played in the NIT. • Head coach Andy Kennedy boasts a 107-64 record in his sixth year at Ole Miss. • Kennedy is the first Rebel coach to lead the program to four 20-win seasons and the second to guide Ole Miss to four postseason appearances. • Ole Miss is making its first ever trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for men’s hoops. • The Rebels are 67-17 in non-conference games under Kennedy. • Ole Miss has gone 9-3 in early-season beach tournaments over the past four years. • Ole Miss and Drake have never met on the hardwood. • Junior forward Murphy Holloway, who has transferred back to his original school from South Carolina where he sat out last season, leads the SEC in rebounding (13.5/game) after two games. • Ole Miss enters its first season in four years without the services of departed guards Chris Warren and Zach Graham, who finished as the third- and 18th-leading scorers in school history, respectively.
REBEL DEFENSE DOMINATES FIRST TWO GAMES Ole Miss has held each of its first two opponents under 40 points (defeated Louisiana-Monroe 60-38 and Grambling State 69-39), which marks the two lowest scores by a Rebel opponent in the Andy Kennedy era. The Warhawks’ 38 points are the fewest by a Rebel opponent since giving up 38 to Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 28, 2002. The Rebels top the SEC in scoring defense (38.5) and field goal percentage defense (28.3) heading into the Paradise Jam.
KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION BEGINS SIXTH YEAR In five seasons under Mississippi native Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss won 105 games (most by an Ole Miss coach in a five-year period), two SEC West championships, four 20-win campaigns and four postseason berths, which includes a pair of trips to the NIT Final Four. The Rebels have their sights set on challenging for the program’s first SEC regular-season championship and the first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002, as Kennedy enters his sixth year at the helm.
NEW LOOK IN 2011-12 The Rebel bench has several new faces in 2011-12, including three new assistant coaches. Former FIU head coach Sergio Rouco, former Middle Tennessee assistant Al Pinkins and former Ole Miss Coordinator of Basketball Operations Bill Armstrong were hired in the offseason to replace departed Michael White, Owen Miller and Torrey Ward. Among the team’s nine freshmen and transfers is Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick, a 6-foot-7 redshirt-freshman guard who is the first McDonald’s All-American in Ole Miss history. Also back is junior forward Murphy Holloway, who was a two-year starter for the Rebels before sitting out last year at South Carolina and then returning to Oxford. Other scholarship players joining the program are freshmen Maurice Aniefiok, Aaron Jones, Jamal Jones, Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White.
RETURNING PLAYERS Ole Miss returns six lettermen and three starters from last year’s team that went 20-14 and played in the NIT. Returning starters are junior forward Reginald Buckner, senior forward Terrance Henry and junior guard Nick Williams. Henry is top returning scorer (9.7 ppg), Buckner the top returning rebounder (6.4 rpg) and Williams the top returning assists man (1.5 apg). The other returning lettermen are sophomore center Demarco Cox, sophomore guard Dundrecous Nelson and senior forward Steadman Short.
BIG SHOES TO FILL Ole Miss lost its top two scorers from last season to graduation in Chris Warren (19.1 ppg) and Zach Graham (14.2 ppg). Warren, a four-year starter at point guard, was a first-team All-SEC selection last year, the SEC’s second-leading scorer and the fourth player in league history to amass 2,000 points and 400 assists in his career. Graham increased his production each year of his four-year stay and finished with more than 1,200 career points.
PARADISE JAM Ole Miss is competing in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time in its history at this weekend’s Paradise Jam. The winner of Friday’s game between Ole Miss and Drake will advance to play the winner of the Marquette-Winthrop matchup on Sunday (9:30 p.m. AT, FSN). The losers of those games will face each other on Saturday (7 p.m. AT). In the winner’s bracket, the championship (9:30 p.m. AT, FSN) and third-place (7 p.m. AT, FSN) games will be held on Monday. The eight-team tournament field also includes Drexel, Norfolk State, TCU and Virginia on the opposite side of the bracket from Ole Miss.
OLE MISS VERSUS PARADISE JAM FIELD • vs. Drake: Never played • vs. Drexel: Never played • vs. Marquette: Never played • vs. Norfolk State: Never played • vs. TCU: Ole Miss leads 2-1 • vs. Virginia: Tied 1-1 • vs. Winthrop: Ole Miss leads 1-0 TOTAL: Ole Miss has a 4-2 all-time record against the Paradise Jam field.
REBELS AT THE BEACH Ole Miss will participate in a tournament in a sunny, beach locale for the fifth straight year when it plays in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam this weekend. The Rebels’ record at the beach over the past four years is 9-3, including a championship in the 2007 San Juan Shootout. In 2008, Ole Miss won two of three at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. In 2009, the Rebels went 2-1 at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with wins over Indiana and Kansas State and a loss to No. 5 Villanova in the title game. In 2010, Ole Miss beat Texas State and Saint Louis, but lost to Colorado State, at the Cancun Governor’s Cup.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS Drake enters the Paradise Jam with a 2-0 record following wins over Upper Iowa (83-58) and Iowa State (74-65). Mark Phelps’ team returned four starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s team that went 13-18 overall and 7-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference. After two games, Ben Simons and Rayvonte Rice lead five players averaging double figure points with an 18.0 scoring average each. Jordan Clarke tops the squad with an 8.0 rebounding average, and Karl Mdison leads the team with 3.5 assists per game.
OLE MISS-DRAKE SERIES The Rebels and Bulldogs will meet for the first time in Friday’s first-round matchup at the Paradise Jam.
OLE MISS VERSUS MISSOURI VALLEY FOES Ole Miss owns a 7-6 all-time record against teams that currently comprise the Missouri Valley Conference. The Rebels’ most-played MVC opponent is Wichita State (Ole Miss leads 3-2). The last meeting against an MVC team was versus Illinois State on Nov. 16, 2004 (Ole Miss lost 70-52).
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS The Rebels boast a 67-17 record (.798 win pct.) against teams outside the SEC since Andy Kennedy took over in 2006-07, including a 47-2 mark at home. The Rebels went 12-4 against non-league foes a year ago, including a 12-3 mark during the regular season.
HOLLOWAY RETURNS WITH BIG NUMBERS Junior forward Murphy Holloway has posted some big numbers in his first two games back as a Rebel. In the season opener, he pulled down a whopping 17 rebounds against Louisiana-Monroe, the most boards by an SEC player so far this year. Against Grambling, he posted his 15th career double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds), which is second-most among active SEC players. In what is believed to be the first situation of its kind, Holloway transferred away from Ole Miss, attended South Carolina last year, and then returned to his original school this summer. After Ole Miss submitted waiver appeals of the year-in residency requirement for transfers, both the NCAA and SEC accepted Holloway’s request to compete in the 2011-12 season.
BUCKNER NEARS ALL-TIME SCHOOL BLOCKS RECORD Junior forward Reginald Buckner needs just 20 blocks to set the all-time school career record. In just 65 games, the Memphis native has accumulated 161 blocks. The school record is held by Sean Murphy, who had 180 blocks in 117 games from 1988-91. Last year, Buckner tied Ansu Sesay’s school record for blocks in a game with eight at Arkansas. He also surpassed his own single-season record from his freshman year (64) with 95 as a sophomore (ranks 16th in SEC history).
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