• Ole Miss is allowing just 45.3 points per game to opponents this season. • Ole Miss returns six lettermen and three starters from last year’s team that went 20-14 and played in the NIT. • Andy 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 68-17 in non-conference games under Kennedy. • Ole Miss has gone 10-3 in early-season beach tournaments over the past five years. • Ole Miss and Marquette have never met on the hardwood. • Marquette is the first ranked opponent the Rebels have played this year. Ole Miss went 1-2 against ranked teams a year ago, including a win over No. 10 Kentucky in Oxford. • Sophomore guard Dundrecous Nelson spearheaded a comeback win over Drake in the Paradise Jam opener. • Junior forward Murphy Holloway, who has transferred back to his original school from South Carolina where he sat out last season, leads the Rebels in rebounding (10.3/game) after three games.
REBEL DEFENSE DOMINATES Ole Miss is allowing just 45.3 points per game to opponents and held each of its first two foes under 40 points (defeated Louisiana-Monroe 60-38 and Grambling State 69-39). That marked 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. Heading into the Paradise Jam, the Rebels topped the SEC in scoring defense (38.5) and field goal percentage defense (28.3).
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 Sunday’s game between Ole Miss and No. 19 Marquette will advance to Monday’s championship game to play the winner of the Norfolk State-TCU matchup. The championship game will be at 9:30 p.m. AT (FSN), while the losers of those games will play for third place at 7 p.m. AT (FSN) on Monday.
OLE MISS VERSUS PARADISE JAM FIELD • vs. Drake: Ole Miss now leads 1-0 • 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 now has a 5-2 all-time record against the Paradise Jam field.
REBELS AT THE BEACH Ole Miss is participating in a sunny, beach tournament for the fifth straight year while at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam this weekend. The Rebels’ record at the beach over the past five years is 10-3, 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 GOLDEN EAGLES Marquette is ranked No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 21 in the Associated Press poll this week. The Golden Eagles are 3-0 after Friday’s 95-73 win over Winthrop. They also have defeated Mount St. Mary’s and Norfolk State. All of their wins have come by at least 22 points, and they have scored more than 90 points in each outing. Darius Johnson-Odom tops three players averaging double figure points with his 20.0 average. Vander Blue and Jae Crowder each contribute 16.7 ppg. Crowder is the team’s leading rebounder at 7.3 rpg. Buzz Williams directed his team to a 22-15 record and NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance last year.
OLE MISS-MARQUETTE SERIES The Rebels and Golden Eagles are meeting for the first time.
REBELS VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS This is the first game Ole Miss has played against a ranked team this season. The Rebels are 5-15 against top-25 opponents under head coach Andy Kennedy. They went 1-2 in such games last season, including a 71-69 win over No. 10 Kentucky on Feb. 1 in Oxford.
OLE MISS VERSUS BIG EAST OPPONENTS Ole Miss owns a 7-10 all-time record against current members of the Big East Conference. Marquette is the first of two scheduled games for Ole Miss against teams from the Big East this year. The Rebels will visit DePaul on Dec. 1 as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge. In the Rebels’ last meeting with a Big East team, No. 15 Ole Miss lost at No. 6 West Virginia 76-66 on Dec. 23, 2009.
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS The Rebels boast a 68-17 record (.800 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.
NELSON CLUTCH IN COMEBACK WIN OVER DRAKE Ole Miss trailed nearly the entire game, but sophomore guard Dundrecous Nelson saved his best for last to propel the Rebels to an opening round Paradise Jam victory. He scored 15 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, including a huge 3-pointer with 2:06 left to put Ole Miss ahead 61-56.
HOLLOWAY RETURNS WITH BIG NUMBERS Junior forward Murphy Holloway has posted some big numbers in his first 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 17 blocks to set the all-time school career record. In just 66 games, the Memphis native has accumulated 164 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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