GAME 9: Ole Miss (6-2) at New Mexico (5-4)
Saturday 12.13.08 | 2 p.m. MT
Albuquerque, N.M. | The Pit/Bob King Court (18,018)
Live TV: Versus (Tim Neverett, play-by-play; Tim McCormick, analyst)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
XM Radio: Channel 200
ANOTHER ROAD TEST FOR OLE MISS AT UNM
Ole Miss plays its second straight game on the road with a tough test at New Mexico on Saturday. Chris Warren scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Rebels to a 78-65 win at New Orleans in their most recent contest last Saturday prior to taking final exams this past week. Entering the upcoming game at “The Pit,” Andy Kennedy’s squad has won three straight road games dating back to last season. David Huertas paces the Rebels with 21.4 points per game, while Warren boasts a 20.4 scoring average. The backcourt stars rank second and third in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, respectively. Ole Miss averages 77.5 ppg and has scored exactly 78 points in each of the last four outings. New Mexico leads the all-time series with Ole Miss 2-1, while the Rebels prevailed 85-77 in last year’s meeting in Oxford.
SCOUTING THE LOBOS
New Mexico improved to 5-4 on the season with a 57-54 road win over San Diego on Wednesday night. The Lobos, coming off a 24-9 season and NIT appearance under head coach Steve Alford, are averaging 73.7 points per game and allowing 64.9 per game to opponents. Five players average 9 or more points, led by senior forward Tony Danridge at 11.7 ppg and senior guard Chad Toppert at 10.3 ppg. Senior forward Daniel Faris is a presence in the middle with a team-high 20 blocked shots, including a career-high six against San Diego. UNM is 4-1 at home this season. A 72-71 loss to UCF on Nov. 22 snapped the Lobos’ 33-game non-conference winning streak at “The Pit.”
OLE MISS-NEW MEXICO SERIES
The Lobos hold a 2-1 advantage over the Rebels in the all-time series, including a 2-0 mark in Albuquerque. Ole Miss claimed an 85-77 win in Oxford last year in a clash of two previously unbeaten teams. Dwayne Curtis had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Chris Warren added 16 points, five assists and three steals in the win (See last year’s recap and box score on page 4). New Mexico prevailed 95-42 on Nov. 19, 2005 at The Pit, and the No. 16-ranked Lobos won 75-64 in the championship game of the 1996 Lobo Invitational also in Albuquerque.
REBELS VERSUS MOUNTAIN WEST
Ole Miss has faced a current member of the Mountain West Conference only eight times in program history, holding a 4-4 record in those contests. New Mexico is the second MWC foe for the Rebels this season. UM fell 83-72 to Utah earlier this season in Daytona Beach, Fla.
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.
Ole Miss boasts a 35-7 record against teams outside the SEC 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 foes, becoming the second Rebel squad to ever accomplish that feat (1948-49). The Rebels’ 83-72 loss to Utah in Daytona Beach was the first regular-season loss to a non-league foe since 2006-07.
FREE-THROW LINE SUCCESS
Ole Miss leads all Southeastern Conference teams and ranks 10th in the nation with a 78.9 free-throw percentage. The Rebels set a school-record with a 22-for-22 performance at the line against South Alabama and shot 93.8 percent (15-of-16) from the stripe against Morgan State. Chris Warren ranks fourth in the SEC with his 87.2 percent free-throw shooting (41-of-47), while David Huertas ranks seventh at 82.4 (42-of-51). Zach Graham has only missed one free throw in 19 attempts (94.4 percent), while Terrance Henry is hitting at an 82.4 percent clip (14-of-17). It is a marked improvement from a year ago, when the Rebels made just 65.1 percent of their attempts.
IT’S RAINING THREE’S
Ole Miss has continued its reputation under head coach Andy Kennedy as a dominant 3-point shooting team in 2008-09. The Rebels are tied with Auburn for second in the Southeastern Conference with 7.8 treys per game, while ranking second in the league with a .397 3-point field-goal percentage.
Individually, David Huertas is the SEC’s top 3-point marksman with 3.1 treys per game and a .472 3-point field-goal percentage, while Chris Warren is sixth with 2.6 three’s per outing and fifth with a .357 percentage.
THE SCOREBOARD KEEPS SAYING “78”
It’s no misprint: At the end of each of the Rebels’ last four games, the scoreboard has shown 78 for Ole Miss. It’s the first time in school history that Ole Miss has scored the same number of points in four straight games. In fact, the only other time Ole Miss finished three consecutive games with the same point total was Feb. 16-23, 1935, when the Mississippians scored 42 points in three straight victories.
Oddly enough, the Rebels are averaging 77.5 points per game for the season.
VOTING BEGINS FOR ALL-CENTURY TEAM
As part of the celebration of the First 100 Years of Ole Miss Basketball, the athletics department will be naming an All-Century Team and are asking fans to help determine the honorees by voting online at OleMissSports.com. Click the All-Century Team link at the top right of the page.
The list of nominees includes any Rebel that earned All-SEC honors or scored 1,000 or more points in his career. Voting opened Wednesday and ends Jan. 31 at midnight. Fans must limit their selections to 10 and are asked to submit online only one ballot per person. The top 10 fan vote-getters will be guaranteed a spot on the All-Century team. The athletics department will determine any remaining members of the squad after consultation with the M-Club Alumni Chapter.
The celebration of the First 100 Years of Ole Miss Basketball will culminate with the unveiling of the All-Century Team at the Feb. 21 game against Georgia at Tad Smith Coliseum.
DEFENDING HOME COURT
Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy’s squads since he took the reins in 2006-07. The 80-78 loss to West Virginia snapped Ole Miss’ 25-game home win streak over non-league foes and a nine-game overall home win streak. Ole Miss is now 36-4 in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum over the last three seasons.
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 eight games. Each player is averaging over 32 minutes per game (Warren-34.6, Huertas-32.4), while the duo combines for 41.8 points per contest, 53.9 percent of the team’s 77.5 average. In fact, Huertas and Warren have been the Rebels’ top two scorers in seven of the first eight games. Entering the New Mexico game, Huertas ranks second in the SEC with 21.4 points per game, while Warren is third with a 20.4 average. Warren also leads the league in minutes per game, while Huertas ranks fourth.
FRESHMEN MAKING STRIDES
With “veterans” David Huertas and Chris Warren scoring the bulk of the Rebels’ baskets, a couple of freshmen have had breakthrough performances in the past two games. Against West Virginia, forward Murphy Holloway earned his first career start and responded with 11 points and 6 rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes of action, while guard Terrico White also started and tallied a season-high 13 points in 33 minutes. White connected on 5-of-7 field goals overall and 3-of-4 from downtown in that game, then added 11 points (4-7 FGs, 2-4 3-pt FGs) in a 78-65 win at New Orleans.
CANTINOL HAS CAREER GAME AT UNO
Redshirt-freshman forward Kevin Cantinol, who had posted just three points and two rebounds in 21 minutes of action through the Rebels’ first seven games, showed up in a big way at New Orleans. The Caribbean native set career highs with eight points (4-4 FGs), four rebounds and 23 minutes played in the 78-65 win.
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has had a hot shooting touch in the Rebels’ first eight games, averaging a team-high 21.4 points, good for 2nd in the SEC and 21st in the nation. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in six of the eight contests. Against South Alabama, he notched a season-high 27 points and tied his career high with 7 three’s, which is tied for the second-highest single-game total in school history. Huertas’ production was kick-started by his finish last year, when he was instrumental in the Rebels’ run to the NIT Semifinals, averaging 16.1 points, 5.0 rebs and 4.0 three’s over the final 8 games. Entering the weekend, he ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories this year, as listed below:
Huertas’ SEC ranks (AS OF 12/11)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 2nd/21st 21.4/game
Rebounding 27th 4.9/game
FG Percentage 4th 54.7
FT Percentage 7th 82.4
3-pt FG Percentage 1st/30th 47.2
3-pt FGs Made 1st/38th 3.1/game
Minutes Played 4th 32.4/game
WARREN DOING SOME OF EVERYTHING
Following up a sensational rookie campaign, sophomore point guard Chris Warren has become an even more well-rounded player this season. In addition to his career-high 29 points against New Orleans, he also hasmade contributions with assists, steals and three-pointers. Entering the New Mexico game, he ranks third in the SEC with 20.4 points per game, while he is also ranks among the top SEC players in several other categories, as listed below:
Warren’s SEC ranks (AS OF 12/11)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 3rd/T-37th 20.4/game
Assists 8th 4.3/game
FT Percentage 4th 87.2
Steals 4th/T-48th 2.4/game
3-pt FGs Made 6th 2.5/game
Assist-Turnover Ratio 7th 1.7
Minutes Played 1st 34.6/game
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 six times in the first eight games, while Warren has done so five times. In fact, three times this year the two guards have both notched 20 or more in the same game, including wins over Marshall (Warren 28, Huertas 21) and Morgan State (Warren 25, Huertas 22) and a 2-point loss to West Virginia (Huertas 23, Warren 20). For their career, Warren now has 14 20+ point outings, while Huertas has racked up seven.
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 20 treys this year, Warren has moved into eighth place all-time with 123. Huertas has knocked down 25 from long range and in the New Orleans game became the 10th player in school history to knock down 100 shots from beyond the arc.
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. 123 Chris Warren (43 games, 2008-present)
9. 107 Kendrick Fox (112 games, 2002-05)
10. 100 David Huertas (43 games, 2008-present)
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Will Bogan: Freshman set season highs with 8 points and 2 three-pointers against Marshall.
DeAundre Cranston: JUCO transfer set a season high with 12 rebounds along with 8 points vs. UCF ... 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: Contributed 9 points and 5 boards off the bench vs. UCF ... 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: Season-high 9 points (including 3-of-3 from FT line) vs. Morgan State ... Season-high 8 rebounds vs. UCF ... 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: Earned first career start and scored 11 points with 5 rebounds vs. West Virginia ... Had 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks vs. Morgan State ... Scored 11 points with 6 boards vs. Utah ... Picked up 4 steals vs. Marshall.
Malcolm White: Started six of first eight games as a sophomore after playing in 26 contests with no starts his rookie season ... Tops the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in blocked shots with 13 (1.6/game).
Terrico White: 11 points, 4 rebounds at New Orleans ... Career-high 13 points on 5-of-7 field goals and 3-of-4 three’s in start vs. West Virginia ... 7 points with season-high 6 rebounds vs. Morgan State ... 8 points and 2-of-4 from behind the arc vs. UCF ... Earned his first starting nod in the 82-78 win over Marshall ... Season-high 5 assists vs. South Alabama ... First Memphis signee for Kennedy’s program.
REBELS ON TV
Saturday’s game at New Mexico, televised by Versus, will be the second of at least 15 games that will be on TV this season, marking the 11th straight season that the Rebels will have played 10 or more TV games. Nationally televised contests include Dec. 18 vs. Louisville (ESPN), Jan. 27 vs. Kentucky (ESPN) and Feb. 7 at Vanderbilt (CBS). Ole Miss followed up a school-record 22 TV appearances in 2006-07 with 20 more last year.