GAME 8: Ole Miss (7-0)vs.Winthrop (5-3)
December 13, 2007 7 p.m. CT
Jackson, Miss. Mississippi Coliseum
Live TV: CSS (Matt Stewart, play-by-play; Harry Harrison, color analyst)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, color analyst). Listen Online
XMRadio: Channel200 (Ole Miss broadcast)
REBELS’ FIRST GAME IN JACKSON SINCE 89
Ole Miss is off to its best start since the 2000-01 squad reeled off 11 straight wins en route to a school-record 27 W’s and an NCAA “Sweet Sixteen” appearance. The Rebels will play their second of six straight games away from Oxford when they face Winthrop in a neutral-site contest in Jackson, Miss. It marks the Rebels’ first game in the capital city since 1989.
Ole Miss won its first road game of the year with a 76-67 victory at UCF on Saturday. The Rebels boast the nation’s second-highest scoring offense with 91.9 points per game.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES
A season after Winthrop went 29-5, won the Big South Conference and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Eagles are 5-3 after their first eight games. Winthrop notched a quality win over Georgia Tech on Nov. 18 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, but has losses at Baylor, vs. Missouri State and at West Virginia. The Eagles are out-scoring opponents by a slim 66.9 to 64.0 margin. Senior guard Michael Jenkins tops the team with 15.6 ppg, while senior forward Taj McCullough adds 14.1 ppg and leads the squad with 5.8 boards per contest. They are the only two Eagles to average double figures.
OLE MISS-WINTHROP SERIES
The Rebels and Eagles will be meeting for the first time on the hardcourt.
MISSISSIPPI-SOUTH CAROLINA TIES
There are no South Carolina natives on the Ole Miss roster, and there are also no Mississippi natives playing for Winthrop.
REBELS VERSUS BIG SOUTH
Ole Miss has played only one game against a current member of the Big South Conference. The Rebels defeated VMI by a 27-20 count in the 1925 Southern Conference tournament, when both teams were members of that league.
REBELS NEAR TOP OF NATION IN SCORING
Seven games into the season, Ole Miss is atop the SEC and ranks second nationally in scoring with 91.9 points per game. The Rebels also rank third in the SEC and 13th in the country with a +20.3 scoring margin. The Rebels have scored 80+ points in six of their first seven contests. Ole Miss topped 100 points for the second time this year with a 102-76 victory over Troy on Nov. 27. It is the first time Ole Miss has topped the century mark twice in a season since the 1998-99 campaign. The 108 points in the Nov. 16 win over Lamar were the most in a game since Ole Miss beat Prairie View A&M 111-50 on Dec. 29, 1998.
Kennedy’s style of "pressure basketball" paid tremendous dividends for the Rebels on the offensive side last season. The team averaged 73.1 points per game, a 7.9 raise from the year before, and the highest clip since scoring 77.0 per game in 1998-99.
REBELS IN THE POLLS
Ole Miss is receiving votes in both national top 25 polls for the first time this year. The Rebels received 10 votes in the AP Poll and one in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Prior to last week, the last time the Rebels received votes was Jan. 16, 2006, when Ole Miss was the third of six SEC vote getters with seven. The Rebels were last ranked in the final top 25 polls of 2000-01, when they appeared as high as No. 9 in the USA Today/ESPN rankings.
Ole Miss has won seven straight to open the 2007-08 campaign, the best start since the 2000-01 team reeled off 11 straight victories en route to a school-record 27 wins and an NCAA Tournament “Sweet Sixteen” Appearance. Entering the week, Ole Miss is one of 15 teams in the nation with a perfect record.
The last time Ole Miss won seven or more games in a row was Dec. 19, 2005-Jan. 14, 2006 when the Rebels also won seven straight.
SHARING THE LOAD
Ole Miss has displayed a variety of ways from up and down its roster to amass 91.9 points per game through seven contests. Five different Rebels (and nearly six) currently average in double figure points, with Chris Warren leading the way at 15.3. Seven Rebels average 15+ minutes, while none rank in the top 30 in the SEC in minutes. The Rebels have had five different leading scorers in seven games.
WARREN LEADING THE REBEL CHARGE
Freshman point guard Chris Warren has been a tremendous addition to the Rebels this season as he tops the team in scoring (15.3 ppg) and assists (6.0/game). He is tied with Florida freshman Nick Calathes for first in the SEC in assists and ranks 12th in scoring, including fourth among rookies. He most recently dropped in a team high 18 points in his hometown of Orlando in the 76-67 win over UCF.
LEADING THE SEC
In addition to being one of just two SEC squads with a perfect record (Vanderbilt), Ole Miss also leads the conference in several statistical categories. The Rebels own the league’s top mark in scoring (91.9 ppg), rebounds (43.0/game), rebounding margin (+9.1) and defensive rebounds (28.43/game). Individually, Chris Warren is tied for the league lead with 6.0 assists per game.
BANGING THE BOARDS
With a pair of senior big men leading the way, Ole Miss has been a strong presence on the boards in the early season. The Rebels rank first in the SEC and seventh nationally with 43.0 rebounds per contest, while also boasting the SEC’s top rebounding margin at +9.1.
On the individual level, Kenny Williams tops the team and ranks second in the SEC with 8.9 boards per contest. The senior forward from Miami, Fla., has posted a pair of double-doubles this season.
Senior center Dwayne Curtis is averaging 8.0 boards per game, good for a tie for fifth in the conference. The Chicago native ranks tied for second in the SEC with three double-doubles. He has notched 19 double-doubles in his Rebel career.
POLYNICE FILLING IT UP
Sophomore guard Eniel Polynice has put up big numbers in several columns of the stat sheet in the early season. He ranks 26th in the SEC with 12.7 points per game and also ranks among the league leaders in field goal percentage (10th at 51.5 pct), assists (8th at 4.0/game), steals (T-8th at 2.1/game) and assist-turnover ratio (10th at 1.87).
Polynice shattered several career highs with his stellar performance in the Nov. 13 win over South Alabama, including career bests of 28 points, seven 3-pointers and seven rebounds. He also brought down seven boards in the 102-76 win over Troy and had a career-high four steals vs. ULM and UCF.
Through the first seven games of the season, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 11th in the country in field-goal percentage, making baskets at a 51.3 percent clip. The Rebels have shot over 50 percent from the floor in five of the first seven contests.
Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 142-46 record (.755 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Ole Miss has been particularly dominant against out of conference clubs at home. Ole Miss did not lose a non-conference battle at Tad Smith Coliseum last year and has only dropped five such games since 1995. The Rebels currently own a streak of 18 straight wins vs. non-conference foes at home.
GASKINSMAKES SPLASH AS ROOKIE
One of several freshmen and newcomers contributing for the Rebels this year, guard Trevor Gaskins has made a big impact in the early season. The Alpharetta, Ga., native ranks second in the SEC with a .556 3-point field goal percentage and fourth in the league with 2.86 three’s made per game. He has earned the starting nod in the Rebels’ last two games and scored 12 and 13 against New Mexico and UCF, respectively.
Gaskins got off to a furious start to his Ole Miss career in the season opener. He finished one 3-pointer shy of the school record with seven treys on 10 attempts, but did collect the freshman record previously held by Josh Hayes, who stroked six three’s against Troy State on Dec. 18, 2000 and Joe Harvell, who had six vs. Kentucky on Jan. 27, 1990. The Ole Miss record of eight was set by Keith Carter against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 29, 1998.
WARREN TABBED SEC FRESHMAN OF WEEK
Point guard Chris Warren earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors on Dec. 3 after averaging team highs of 19.5 points and 7.5 assists in two contests. The speedy rookie set career highs with 23 points and 10 assists for his first career double-double in the 102-76 win over Troy. He hit 5-of-9 from behind the arc and directed a 25-0 run at the beginning of the second half to put the game out of reach. He also contributed 16 points, five assists and three steals, with just two turnovers, in a game-high 35 minutes of action in the 85-77 victory over UNM.
He is the first Rebel to earn a weekly honor from the conference this season and the first since Bam Doyne was SEC Player of the Week on Nov. 27 last year.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Zach Graham: An “explosive scorer” according to Kennedy, the rookie from Suwanee, Ga., has proved that true by averaging 7.7 points in 13.0 minutes per game. Posted double figure points in back-to-back games vs. Lamar (12) and Louisiana-Monroe (13). Poured in all nine of his points at UCF in the first half.
David Huertas: After starting the first five games, Huertas has come off the bench in the last two contests. Despite putting up 9.0 ppg, the sophomore transfer from Florida has struggled from behind the arc in his first games as a Rebel, making 7-of-32 three’s at a 21.9 percent clip. He scored a career-high 17 points vs. ULM.
Jermey Parnell: Started the first three games and has come off the bench since. Season-high 12 points on 6-of-7 from the field vs. Troy.
Terrence Watson: A very long, athletic forward, Watson has been slowed by an ankle injury for the past several games. He has nine blocks in five games. Earned the starting nod and logged a season-high 19 minutes vs. Lamar.
Malcolm White: Slowed by knee problems in the first part of the season. Saw most action with 14 minutes vs. Troy and put up 6 points and 6 rebounds. The athletic leaper had two huge dunks in that game.
REBELS ON THE TUBE
Ole Miss is making its second television appearance of the year after seeing a school-record 22 games televised a year ago. Ole Miss is slated to play at least 14 games on TV this year, which will mark the 10th straight season that the Rebels played 10 or more TV games. Thursday’s game will be the second straight Rebel contest televised by CSS.
CURTIS TABBED PRESEASON ALL-SEC
Senior center Dwayne Curtis has established himself as one of the top post men in the Southeastern Conference and has been named to the preseason All-SEC second team by the media and league coaches. He was also rated the SEC’s “Most Underrated” by The Sporting News. The Chicago, Ill., native averaged 12.2 points and 8.3 rebounds for last year’s SEC Western Division champions. At 6-foot-8 and 262 pounds, Curtis has been the Rebels’ top rebounder in each of his two years in Oxford. In his sophomore year he put up team highs of 13.6 points and 7.6 boards per game in garnering All-SEC honorable mention status from the Associated Press.
OLE MISS-USM ANNOUNCE 3-YEAR SERIES
TeleSouth Communications in conjunction with The Mississippi Department of Tourism recently announced a three-year, three-game men’s basketball series between Ole Miss and Southern Miss.
The series begins this year in Southaven at the Desoto County Civic Center on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. CT. The rivalry will then move to Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum on Dec. 27, 2008, and the final game will be staged in Biloxi at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum with the date yet to be determined.
Each game will be treated as a neutral court for each team with game officials from both Conference USA and the Southeastern Conference.
OLEMISSSPORTS.COM STREAMS LIVE GAMES
Rebel fans can catch the Ole Miss basketball teams in action on OleMissSports.com this season, as the Rebels’ official website will air live webcasts of four men’s games and six women’s games.
In addition, OleMissSports.com premium subscribers can view replays of all men’s and women’s home games on-demand. Replays will be available at 8 a.m. CST the following day per Southeastern Conference regulations.
Remaining on the live schedule of men’s games is the Alabama A&M contest on Jan. 2 and Presbyterian College on Jan. 11.
NEW TAD PAD VIDEO BOARDS ON DISPLAY
Among the recent improvements to C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum are colorful new video ribbon boards that were installed prior to the season opener.
The arena has been fitted with 360 total feet of the Sideline ProAd Video Plus Displays above the top row of seating. The two 180-foot strips run baseline-to-baseline parallel to each sideline.
The $2 million project, which also included ribbon video boards at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, was paid for by TeleSouth Communications and installed by Daktronics, Inc.
Other recent changes to Tad Smith include extending the student section bleachers to the top of the North end zone and a newly painted ceiling. Other alterations already in the works include renovations to the media work area, officials locker rooms and cheerleaders warmup area. Those projects are expected to be completed by the end of December.
SANDERS TAKEN IN NBA D-LEAGUE DRAFT
After breaking out as an All-SEC player for last year’s SEC West Champion Ole Miss Rebels, Clarence Sanders has a chance to take his game to the professional ranks after he was drafted by the Anaheim Arsenal in the seventh round of the NBA Development League Draft on Nov. 1.
A native of Phenix City, Ala., Sanders led Ole Miss and ranked fifth in the Southeastern Conference with 16.1 points per game last season en route to All-SEC second team honors from the league coaches.
Known for his ability to stroke one from behind the arc at any moment, Sanders set a school record with 96 three-pointers last season, as well as leading the SEC with 56 treys in league play.
Sanders is the third Rebel to play in the NBA D-League, which was formerly known as the NBDL. Rahim Lockhart was an All-NBDL performer in 2001-02, while Ansu Sesay was the NBDL’s Player of the Year that season.
MORE REBELS IN THE PROS
Ole Miss’ two other senior leaders from a year ago have also moved on to the professional ranks in recent months. All-SEC guard Todd Abernethy is a member of the Matrixx Magix in Holland, while Bam Doyne ranks second on his Falco KC-Szombathely team with 20.3 points per game after seven contests in the Hungary League.
Other Rebels currently playing professionally overseas include Derrick Allen (Germany), Keith Carter (Italy), Aaron Harper (Ukraine), Londrick Nolen (Uruguay), Ansu Sesay (Italy), Jason Smith (Romania) and LaTaryl Williams (England).