GAME 5: Ole Miss (3-1) vs. UCF (2-1)
Wednesday 11.26.08 | 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. | C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
Live Video: Watch Online through RebelVision
Live Stats: Watch Live on OleMissSports.com
REBELS RETURN TO OXFORD, FACE UCF
Ole Miss returns home this week after going 1-1 at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla., to move to 3-1 on the young season. The Rebels will sandwich Thanksgiving Day between games vs. UCF on Wednesday and Morgan State on Saturday. Chris Warren scored a career-high 28 points and David Huertas added 21 as the Rebels capped their stay on the beach with an 82-78 win over Marshall on Sunday. This was following the first loss of the season on Friday, 83-72 to Utah. Huertas has scored 20 or more in three of the Rebels’ four games this year, while Warren has 20+ in each of the last two. The backcourt duo has combined for 55 percent of the team’s total points (169 of 308) so far. UCF is 2-1 following a road win over New Mexico on Saturday. Ole Miss defeated the Knights in Orlando last year by a 76-67 margin.
FREE ADMISSION FOR STUDENTS
All college, high school and elementary school students will receive free admission to Wednesday night's game vs. UCF as part of the "Holiday Special" courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics. In addition, the first 2000 fans to Wednesday's game receive free schedule key tags.
INJURIES HIT REBELS HARD
It’s been more like an “injury elephant” than an “injury bug” in the early season for Ole Miss. In an 11-day stretch during the first two weeks of play, the Rebels lost two key members of its backcourt in sophomore Trevor Gaskins and junior Eniel Polynice with season-ending injuries.
The most recent news came on Tuesday, Nov. 18, hours prior to the Rebels’ game vs. South Alabama, when the team found out that Polynice’s arthroscopic surgery to his left knee revealed extensive cartilage damage and loose fragments that will put the Rebels’ most veteran leader on the shelf for four to six months of rehabilitation.
Eleven days earlier the team suffered a blow when Gaskins, a member of last year’s SEC All-Freshman team, would need to undergo season-ending surgery to his left knee after tearing his ACL.
Both Polynice and Gaskins were expected to be primary pieces of a Rebel backcourt touted by at least one preseason publication (Blue Ribbon Yearbook) as the best in the Southeastern Conference.
Polynice averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 34 games last year, including 31 starts. Andy Kennedy has routinely called Polynice the team’s best perimeter defender and one of the toughest competitors on the squad. Gaskins was one of the team’s top long-range threats a year ago when he ranked third on the squad with 46 treys, while averaging 5.9 points per contest. Entering his sophomore year, he was considered one of the toughest competitors and an emotional leader of the team.
Remaining scholarship backcourt members are junior David Huertas, sophomores Chris Warren and Zach Graham and freshmen Will Bogan and Terrico White.
SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS
The University of Central Florida is off to a 2-1 start to the season, including an impressive road win on Saturday at the Pit, 72-71 over New Mexico. The Knights also have a home win over North Carolina A&T and road loss to Valparaiso. Against Ole Miss, they will be playing their third of five straight games away from home. UCF is outscoring opponents by an average of 68.3-67.3. Preseason All-Conference USA pick Jermaine Taylor leads the team with 21.3 points per contest, as he is the only UCF player averaging double-digit points. Taylor also tops the squad in rebounding with 6.7 per game. Kirk Speraw is in his 16th season as the team’s head coach. He led the Knights to a 16-15 record last year and enters Wednesday’s game with a 249-203 ledger at UCF.
OLE MISS-UCF SERIES
The two teams met for the first time last season, as Ole Miss earned a 76-67 victory on the road. Chris Warren scored a team-high 18 points in his hometown to lead the Rebels to a win that moved them to 7-0 at the time.
DEFENDING HOME COURT
Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy’s squads since he took over the reins in 2006-07. With the 89-71 win over South Alabama, Ole Miss improved to 34-3 in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum over the last three seasons. The Rebels have won their last seven straight at home and 23 straight over non-league foes at the Tad Pad.
Ole Miss boasts a 32-6 record against teams outside the Southeastern Conference since Andy Kennedy took over the reins in 2006-07. Last year, the Rebels finished the regular season with a perfect 14-0 record against non-league opponents, becoming the second Rebel squad to ever accomplish that feat (1948-49 team was the other). The Rebels’ 83-72 loss to Utah on Friday was the first regular-season loss to a non-league foe since the 2006-07 season. Of the other losses, two came in the NIT (Clemson and Ohio State) and two more to a nationally ranked foe on the road (No. 19 UConn and No. 16 Memphis).
Ole Miss has several team members who call the Sunshine State home. Sophomore point guard Chris Warren and junior forward DeAundre Cranston both hail from Orlando, while Cranston spent the past two years at Daytona Beach Community College. A pair of Caribbean natives played high school ball in Florida, including junior Puerto Rican David Huertas (Arlington Country Day HS - Jacksonville; University of Florida) and redshirt-freshman Kevin Cantinol (Calvary Christian HS - Clearwater) from the island of Martinique in the French West Indies.
HUERTAS & WARREN SHOULDERING THE LOAD
Junior guard David Huertas and sophomore guard Chris Warren are playing the majority of minutes and scoring most of the points for the Rebels through four games. Each player is averaging over 34 minutes per game (Huertas-35.0, Warren-34.2), while the duo combines for 42.3 points per contest, 55 percent of the team’s 77.0 average. Entering the week, Huertas ranks second in the SEC with a 22.5 average, while Warren is fourth at 19.8.
HUERTAS DOESN’T SKIP A BEAT
Picking up where he left off at the end of last season, David Huertas has had a hot shooting touch in the Rebels’ first four games, averaging a team-high 22.5 points. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in three of the four contests, including a season-high 27 in the win over South Alabama. He ranks among the SEC leaders in points, three-pointers (3.5/game), field-goal percentage (50.0, 27-of-54) and minutes played (35.0/game) after four games. Against USA, he tied his career high with 7 three’s, which is tied for the second-highest single-game total in school history. Huertas was instrumental in the Rebels’ run to the NIT Semifinals last season, averaging 16.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 three’s over the final eight games.
REBELS VERSUS CONFERENCE USA
In non-SEC play, Conference-USA is Ole Miss’ most faced league. The Rebels have an all-time record of 75-96 (.439 winning percentage) against current members of Conference USA, which includes such frequent foes as Tulane (35-55) and Memphis (11-27). Ole Miss has a 10-5 record versus current C-USA teams since the league was formed in the spring of 1995.
WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE KEY
In each of the Rebels’ three wins, they have forced more turnovers than they have committed, while in their one loss they tied Utah with 16 turnovers apiece. In fact, Ole Miss has forced 15 or more turnovers in each game thus far, including a season-high 18 against Marshall on Sunday. Ole Miss enters the UCF game with a +3.0 turnover margin.
20-POINT SCORING GAMES
David Huertas and Chris Warren have made scoring 20 or more points commonplace in the early going this season. Huertas has cracked the 20-point mark three times in the first four games, while Warren enters Wednesday’s game vs. UCF with two straight 20+ outings. In fact, both players scored more than 20 in the Rebels’ most recent win over Marshall (Warren 28, Huertas 21), becoming the first Rebel duo to accomplish that feat since Huertas (29) and Dwayne Curtis (26) in last year’s SEC Tournament first-round game vs. Georgia. For their career, Warren now has 11 20+ point outings, while Huertas has racked up four.
RECORDS THAT WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
In just their second season playing for the Red and Blue, Chris Warren and David Huertas are both moving up Ole Miss’ career three-point charts at a break-neck pace. With seven treys this year, Warren has moved into eighth place all-time with 110. Huertas has knocked down 14 from downtown and moved into a tie for 10th place with Jason Flanigan when Huertas hit his 88th and 89th career triples against Marshall on Sunday.
OLE MISS CAREER THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS:
1. 278 Aaron Harper (123 games, 2001-04)
2. 249 Keith Carter (117 games, 1996-1999)
3. 214 Joe Harvell (114 games, 1990-93)
4. 163 Jason Harrison (132 games, 1999-02)
5. 158 Todd Abernethy (122 games, 2004-07)
6. 131 Joezon Darby (81 games, 1996-98)
7. 127 Clarence Sanders (60 games, 2006-07)
8. 110 Chris Warren (39 games, 2008-present)
9. 107 Kendrick Fox (112 games, 2002-05)
10. 89 David Huertas (39 games, 2008-present)
89 Jason Flanigan (127 games, 1998-2001)
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
WILL BOGAN: Freshman set season highs with 8 points and 2 three-pointers against Marshall.
DeAUNDRE CRANSTON: JUCO transfer started his first game as a Rebel vs. Marshall. Had 9 points and 5 rebounds vs. South Alabama. Despite a wide, 6-9 frame, has the ability to connect from long range.
ZACH GRAHAM: Just hours after learning that junior guard Eniel Polynice would miss the remainder of the season, Graham stepped into Polynice’s spot in the starting lineup vs. South Alabama and responded with a career-high 16 points, including 3-for-4 from the field, 2-of-3 from downtown and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw stripe. Made seven starts as a freshman last season and averaged 5.9 points in 35 appearances.
TERRANCE HENRY: Earned a spot in the starting lineup for the first three games of his collegiate career. Tallied 8 points and 7 rebounds vs. Utah. Had 8 points and 6 boards against South Alabama.
MURPHY HOLLOWAY: Team’s top scorer off the bench with 7.5 points per game. Scored 11 points with 6 rebounds against Utah. Picked up 4 steals vs. Marshall.
MALCOLM WHITE: Has started all four games as a sophomore after playing in 26 contests with no starts his rookie season. Tops the team in rebounding (5.5/game) and blocked shots (1.3/game).
TERRICO WHITE: First Memphis signee for Kennedy’s program. Earned his first starting nod in the 82-78 win over Marshall, scoring 6 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. Season-high 5 assists vs. South Alabama.
SCHOOL-RECORD FREE THROW PERFECTION
Ole Miss set a school record and tied the Southeastern Conference record with a perfect 22-for-22 performance from the free-throw line in last Tuesday’s 89-71 win over South Alabama. It was the first time a Rebel team has converted every attempt in a game with 20 or more chances, and only the fourth time in SEC history for a team to accomplish that feat. Sophomore guard Zach Graham led the way with 8-for-8 from the charity stripe, while Chris Warren, Terrance Henry and David Huertas were 4-for-4 and Murphy Holloway made both of his attempts. The performance was a far cry from last year’s Rebel squad that made just 65.1 percent of its free-throw attempts on the season.
NEW REBELS SEE ACTION
Six newcomers on this year’s Rebel squad saw action in the season-opening win over Arkansas State. Freshman Terrance Henry earned a starting nod at forward, becoming the second rookie to start the season opener during coach Andy Kennedy’s three-year tenure (Chris Warren last year). Henry and fellow freshman Murphy Holloway each scored 7 points. Other newcomers to see action were freshman guards Will Bogan and Terrico White, JUCO transfer forward DeAundre Cranston and redshirt-freshman forward Kevin Cantinol. Sophomore forward Malcolm White is not a new face, but he did make his first career appearance in the starting lineup in the opener.
KEITH CARTER JOINS OLE MISS RADIO CREW
A familiar name to Rebel hoops fans may soon become a familiar voice, as the Ole Miss Radio Network has added former Rebel All-American Keith Carter to its basketball broadcast crew for the 2008-09 season.
Carter, who has spent the past six years playing overseas in the Italian professional league, will serve as an analyst and sideline reporter alongside play-by-play announcer David Kellum for Rebel hoops games this season. A four-year starter at Ole Miss, Carter helped the Rebels to a pair of SEC Western Division titles in 1997 and 1998 and was an honorable mention All-America selection by the Associated Press after his 1999 senior season in which he scored 542 points and drained 77 three-pointers.
RADIO BROADCASTS AVAILABLE ONLINE
The Ole Miss radio call for basketball will now be heard online through OleMissSports.com’s RebelVision after formerly being available on Yahoo. RebelVision subscribers, who hear the radio broadcasts for all Ole Miss football, basketball and baseball, will also have the opportunity to watch live webcasts of select men’s hoops games, including the UCF showdown on Wednesday. Other games already scheduled to be streamed are New Orleans on Dec. 6 and Florida A&M on Dec. 22.