GAME 11: Ole Miss (7-3) vs. #9/9 Louisville (6-1)
Thursday 12.18.08 | 9 p.m. ET
Cincinnati, Ohio | U.S. Bank Arena
Live TV: ESPN (Dan Schulman, play-by-play; Bob Knight, analyst; Allen Hopkins, sideline reporter)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
Live Video: ESPN360.com (Free on-campus viewing at all U.S. colleges and universities)
XM Radio: Channel 199
REBELS FACE 9TH-RANKED LOUISVILLE IN SEC/BIG EAST INVITATIONAL
Ole Miss faces its first ranked opponent of the season when the Rebels travel to Cincinnati to take on No. 9 Louisville in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational on Thursday in front of an ESPN national television audience. The Rebels secured an 85-81 home win over Alabama State in their most recent outing, with junior guard David Huertas’ 25 points leading four Rebels in double figures. Huertas tops the team and ranks second in the SEC and top 20 in the nation with 21.0 points per game, while Chris Warren is the SEC’s third-leading scorer at 19.8 ppg. Ole Miss boasts a 2-0 record in the all-time series with Louisville, while head coach Andy Kennedy owns a 1-1 mark against the Cardinals from his stint as interim head coach at Cincinnati in 2005-06. The Rebels are 9-4 in neutral-site contests and 3-6 vs. ranked foes during Kennedy’s three-year tenure.
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.
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
Louisville enters Thursday’s game ranked No. 9 in the nation with a 6-1 record after entering the season ranked third nationally. UL’s lone defeat was a 68-54 loss to Western Kentucky in a neutral-site contest in Nashville, Tenn. In their six wins, the Cardinals are outscoring opponents by an average of 30.1 points (84.3 to 54.2). Freshman center Samardo Samuels paces the squad with 17.0 ppg, while junior Earl Clark adds 11.6 ppg and 8.1 rpg, and senior Terrence Williams chips in 10.6 ppg and a team-high 8.9 rpg. As a team, Louisville averages 80.0 ppg and 41.4 rpg, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor and limiting opponents to 56.1 ppg and a 36.5 FG percentage.
Head coach Rick Pitino owns a 175-68 record (.720 winning pct.) in his seventh season at Louisville. He led the Cardinals to an NCAA Elite Eight appearance, 27-9 overall record and second-place finish in the BIG EAST with a 14-4 league record last year.
OLE MISS-LOUISVILLE SERIES
The Rebels won both previous meetings between the two schools when they played a home-and-home series in 1997 and 1998. The 16th-ranked Rebels earned a 74-70 victory in Louisville on Dec. 22, 1997 on the strength of 18 points by current Ole Miss radio analyst Keith Carter, while Ole Miss won 88-69 in Oxford on Dec. 5, 1998 behind 24 points by Marcus Hicks.
KENNEDY VERSUS LOUISVILLE
Andy Kennedy has a 1-1 record against Louisville as a head coach, with both games coming in BIG EAST regular-season play when he was the interim head coach at Cincinnati in 2005-06. His Bearcats lost 67-50 on the road before earning a 74-68 victory at home.
Ole Miss boasts a 36-8 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.
REBELS VERSUS BIG EAST
Ole Miss sports a 7-7 all-time record against current members of the BIG EAST Conference. Louisville is the second BIG EAST foe for the Rebels this year. Ole Miss dropped an 80-78 decision to West Virginia on Dec. 3.
AK RETURNS TO CINCINNATI
With the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational on Thursday, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy will be coaching a game in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the first time since he was the Cincinnati Bearcats’ interim head coach during the 2005-06 season. That year he led UC to a 21-13 record and NIT berth under difficult circumstances. He spent the previous four years as the top assistant for Bob Huggins when he helped direct the Bearcats to 24.5 wins per year and four straight NCAA tournament appearances, along with a pair of Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles.
SUCCESS VERSUS TOP 25
Ole Miss was 2-1 last season against teams ranked in the top 25 at the time of the game. The Rebels upended No. 15 Clemson 85-82 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before falling 85-83 at No. 8 Tennessee then winning 74-58 over No. 18 Vanderbilt. Ole Miss is 3-6 against ranked foes under third-year head coach Andy Kennedy.
REBELS VERSUS THE NATION’S TOP 10
With a matchup against No. 9/9 Louisville, the Rebels will be facing their first top 10 opponent since meeting No. 8 Tennessee in last season’s SEC opener. The last Ole Miss win over a top 10 foe was an 84-56 thrashing of No. 6 Alabama on March 3, 2002 in Oxford.
REBELS ON TV
Thursday’s nationally televised game vs. Louisville on ESPN is the fourth of at least 15 games scheduled for TV this season, marking the 11th straight season that the Rebels will have played 10 or more TV games. Other nationally televised contests include 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.
REBELS WIN ON ESPN
Ole Miss boasts a 4-2 record in its last six games televised by ESPN’s primary network channel, including last year’s 81-72 victory over Arkansas. The Rebels have played in 10 contests shown on one of ESPN’s family of networks since the 2005-06 season, with a 5-5 record in those games, including a 4-1 mark last season.
KENNEDY’S TEAMS LIKE NEUTRAL SITES
Ole Miss boasts a 9-4 record in neutral-site contests in three seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. This includes a five-game win streak in such contests last December when the Rebels beat Winthrop in Jackson, Miss., swept all three games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then defeated Southern Miss in Southaven, Miss.
FREE-THROW SHOOTING EXPLOITS
Ole Miss leads all Southeastern Conference teams and ranks 12th in the nation with a 77.5 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 86.9 percent free-throw shooting (53-of-61), while David Huertas ranks seventh at 80.0 (48-of-60). Both players are also among the league’s leaders in free-throw attempts. Zach Graham has only missed one free throw in 20 attempts (95.0 percent), while Terrance Henry is hitting at an 81.8 percent clip (18-of-22).
It is a marked improvement from a year ago, when the Rebels made just 65.1 percent of their attempts. In fact, Ole Miss has already had more games in which it shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe this year (4) than all of last season (3).
IT’S RAINING THREE’S
Ole Miss has continued its reputation under head coach Andy Kennedy as a premier 3-point shooting team in 2008-09. The Rebels rank third in the SEC with 7.7 treys per game and a .385 3-point field-goal percentage. They have drained 10 or more from downtown on three occasions, including two of the last three outings.
Individually, David Huertas is the SEC’s top 3-point marksman with 3.2 treys per game and a .471 3-point field-goal percentage, while Chris Warren is eighth with 2.3 three’s per outing.
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 10 games. Each is averaging over 32 minutes per game (Warren-34.0, Huertas-32.3), while the duo combines for 40.8 points per contest, 52.6 percent of the team’s 77.5 average. In fact, Huertas and Warren have been the Rebels’ top two scorers in nine of the first 10 games. Huertas ranks second in the SEC with 21.0 points per game, while Warren is third with a 19.8 average. Entering the week, Ole Miss was one of two teams in the nation with a pair of players averaging 20+ points (VMI’s Chavis and Travis Holmes - 21.0 and 20.1 ppg).
Last year, All-SEC center Dwayne Curtis ranked second in the SEC with 9.6 rebounds per game and topped the nation in offensive boards. After losing Curtis and two other frontcourt seniors to graduation, the Rebels have been looking for a player or two to help replace some of the lost production this season. While junior guard David Huertas and freshman forward Murphy Holloway are tied for the team lead with 4.8 rebounds per game, it was sophomore forward Malcolm White who showed a lot of promise against Alabama State on Monday. In his second season with the team, the most “veteran” member of the Rebel frontcourt grabbed a career-high nine boards while also tying his career high with 12 points. It was the second-highest individual rebounding effort by a Rebel this season, with junior college transfer DeAundre Cranston getting 12 rebounds in the win over UCF on Nov. 26.
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 recent 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. The Irmo, S.C., native then had a true breakout game with 15 points and 6 boards in the win over Alabama State on Monday. Guard Terrico White also started and tallied a season-high 13 points in 33 minutes against WVU. He followed that up with 11 points at New Orleans and 8 more at New Mexico.
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has had a hot shooting touch in the Rebels’ first 10 games, averaging a team-high 21.0 points, good for 2nd in the SEC and 20th in the nation. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in seven of the 10 contests, including a game-high 25 in the win over Alabama State on Monday. 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 week, he ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories this year, as listed below:
Huertas’ SEC Ranks (AS OF 12/16)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 2nd/20th 21.0/game
Rebounding T-27th 4.8/game
FG Percentage 4th 53.7
FT Percentage T-7th 80.0
3-pt FG Percentage 1st 47.1
3-pt FGs Made 1st 3.2/game
Minutes Played 4th 32.3/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 seven times in the first 10 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 eight.
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 and a 24.5 scoring average in games away from Tad Smith Coliseum, he also has made contributions with assists, steals and three-pointers in the early going. The Orlando, Fla., native ranks third in the SEC with 19.8 points per game, while he also ranks among the top SEC players in several other categories, as listed below:
Warren’s SEC Ranks (AS OF 12/16)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 3rd/44th 19.8/game
Assists T-9th 4.0/game
FT Percentage 4th 86.9
Steals 4th/T-45th 2.4/game
3-pt FGs Made 8th 2.3/game
Assist-Turnover Ratio T-10th 1.6
Minutes Played 2nd 34.0/game
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 23 treys this year, Warren needs just one more to tie Clarence Sanders for seventh place on the all-time list with 126. Huertas has knocked down 32 from long range and is now tied with Kendrick Fox for ninth place in the Rebel records with 107.
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. 126 Chris Warren (45 games, 2008-present)
9. 107 David Huertas (45 games, 2008-present)
107 Kendrick Fox (112 games, 2002-05)
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Will Bogan: Freshman set season highs with 8 points and 2 three-pointers against Marshall.
Kevin Cantinol: Redshirt-freshman forward set career highs with 8 points (4-4 FGs), 4 rebounds and 23 minutes played in the 78-65 win at New Orleans ... Earned his first career start at New Mexico.
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: Has hit 19-of-20 free throws through the first 10 games ... Scored 12 points at New Mexico ... Contributed 9 points and 5 boards 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.
Terrance Henry: 6-foot-9 forward is hitting free throws at an 82 percent clip (18-of-22) ... Tied season high with 9 points at New Mexico, also blocked 3 shots ... Had 9 points 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: Tied for the team lead with a 4.8 rebounding average ... Leads team and ranks seventh in SEC with 2.7 offensive boards per game ... Set career high with 15 points vs. Alabama State, including 5-5 FTs ... Team-high 7 rebounds at New Mexico ... Earned first career start and scored 11 points with 5 rebounds vs. West Virginia ... Scored 11 points with 6 boards vs. Utah ... Picked up 4 steals vs. Marshall.
Malcolm White: Tops the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in blocked shots with 14 (1.4/game) ... Had career night vs. Alabama State, tying career high with 12 points and established new personal best with 9 rebounds ... Started first six games as a sophomore after playing in 26 contests with no starts his rookie season.
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 ... 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.
TROUBLE AT “THE PIT”
Ole Miss struggled to find its game at “The Pit” on Saturday, dropping a 103-70 decision to New Mexico. The 33-point loss was the most lopsided defeat in the Andy Kennedy era and the worst for a Rebel team since an 80-40 loss at Kentucky on Feb. 22, 2006. It also was the first time Ole Miss has allowed an opponent to reach triple digits since a 100-87 loss at Arkansas on Feb. 5, 1998.
OLE MISS ALL-CENTURY TEAM VOTING
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 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.