SAN JUAN SHOOTOUT: Ole Miss (8-0) vs. DePaul (2-5), La Salle (3-4), #15 Clemson (8-0)
December 20-22, 2007 6:30 p.m. AT
San Juan, Puerto Rico Mario Morales Coliseum
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, color analyst). Listen Online
XM Radio: Channel 200 (Ole Miss broadcast)
Due to limited technical accessibility in the arena, no live video or live stats will be available online for any of the participating teams.
UNDEFEATED REBELS VISIT CARIBBEAN
Ole Miss takes its 8-0 record to the Caribbean in search of equaling the best start in school history of 11 straight wins (1936-37 and 2000-01). The Rebels will play their third, fourth and fifth of six straight games away from Oxford when they face DePaul, La Salle and Clemson in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.
After six straight home games to begin the season, Ole Miss is 2-0 away from Oxford with a 76-67 victory at UCF and a 76-71 win over Winthrop in Jackson, Miss. The Rebels boast the nation’s second-highest scoring offense with 89.9 points per game.
SCOUTING THE BLUE DEMONS
DePaul is 2-5 on the year after their most recent defeat vs. UIC. The Blue Demons are looking to break a three-game losing streak, which includes losses to Kansas and Vanderbilt, both of which are still undefeated. DePaul is averaging 75.0 points per game, with Draelon Burns leading four players in double figures with 18.6 ppg. The team is allowing 79.0 points per contest, however, while opponents are also making shots at a .470 clip.
OLE MISS-DePAUL SERIES
The Rebels and Blue Demons have met just once before, with DePaul prevailing by a 75-67 score on March 25, 1983.
Ole Miss center Dwayne Curtis will face a team from his hometown of Chicago, along with three Blue Demon players who hail from the state of Illinois. There are no Mississippians on the DePaul roster.
SCOUTING THE EXPLORERS
La Salle enters the week with a 3-4 record. The Explorers are 2-1 at home, but 1-3 on the road. La Salle scores 67.9 points per game shooting at a .419 clip from the field and .375 from behind the arc. Darnell Harris leads the club with 17.0 points per contest, while Rodney Green and Ruben Guillandeaux put up over 11 points per game.
OLE MISS-LA SALLE SERIES
Friday’s game will be the first meeting between the Rebels and Explorers.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Clemson is one of 14 unbeaten teams in the country with an 8-0 record. The Tigers are No. 15 in both national polls this week. Clemson is scoring 79.9 points per game and holding opponents to just 63.0 points. The Tigers are shooting .448 from the field and .412 from the 3-point line, while they also rank among the nation’s top 15 in both steals and blocked shots. K.C. Rivers leads four Tigers in double figure scoring with 15.9 ppg. James Mays, a preseason All-America pick who is listed as questionable with a sprained hip, put up 14.8 ppg through five games.
OLE MISS-CLEMSON SERIES
The Rebels dropped an 89-68 decision to the Tigers in last year’s second round of the NIT with Tiger center Trevor Booker scoring a career-high 21. Clemson went on to play in the championship game. The Tigers hold a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series with Ole Miss winning 53-49 in the first round of the NIT at Clemson on March 12, 1982 and the Tigers prevailing in 65 and 74.
REBELS NEAR TOP OF NATION IN SCORING
Eight games into the season, Ole Miss is atop the SEC and ranks third nationally in scoring with 89.9 points per game. The Rebels also rank third in the SEC and 17th in the country with a +18.4 scoring margin. The Rebels have scored 80+ points in six of their first eight 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.
CURTIS IS SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After scoring 22 points with 11 rebounds and helping Ole Miss to a 76-71 win over Winthrop, senior center Dwayne Curtis was tabbed as the SEC Player of the Week on Monday.
Curtis posted his fourth double-double in the last six games and collected season highs in points and rebounds on Thursday. He finished three points shy of his career high and made good on 10-of-12 from the floor to improve his season field-goal percentage to .712, which ranks second in the SEC.
This is the second weekly honor for a Rebel this season. Chris Warren was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Dec. 3. It is the second career honor for Curtis, who was the SEC Player of the Week on Jan. 7, 2006 after leading Ole Miss to a win at Alabama with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
REBELS IN THE POLLS
Ole Miss is receiving votes in both national top 25 polls for the straight week. The Rebels received 22 votes in the AP Poll and 15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Prior to two weeks ago, 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 eight 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 14 teams in the nation with a perfect record.
The eight-game streak is also the longest overall winning streak since the 11-gamer in 2000-01. The school record for a winning streak is 12, set in 1926.
While many of the Ole Miss players have never been to Puerto Rico, one Rebel will feel right at home this week. Sophomore guard David Huertas is a native of Humacao, living on the island until venturing off to Florida for high school.
SHARING THE LOAD
Ole Miss has displayed a variety of ways from up and down its roster to amass 89.9 points per game through eight contests. Five different Rebels (and nearly six) currently average in double figure points, with Dwayne Curtis leading the way at 14.8. Eight Rebels average 13+ minutes, while none rank in the top 30 in the SEC in minutes. The Rebels have had five different leading scorers in eight games.
FABULOUS FRESHMAN FLOOR GENERAL
Freshman point guard Chris Warren has been a tremendous addition to the Rebels this season as he tops the SEC in assists (6.0/game) and ranks second on the team in scoring (14.6 ppg). He ranks 16th in the SEC in scoring, fifth among rookies. The Orlando native has put up double figure points in every game and has dished out 5 or more assists in all but one contest.
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 some statistical categories. The Rebels own the league’s top mark in scoring (89.9 ppg) and rebounding (42.0/game), while Chris Warren leads the league 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 13th nationally with 42.0 rebounds per contest, while also boasting the SEC’s second-best rebounding margin at +9.6.
On the individual level, Kenny Williams tops the team and ranks second in the SEC with 8.8 boards per contest. The senior forward from Miami, Fla., has posted a pair of double-doubles this season.
Senior center Dwayne Curtis is averaging 8.4 boards per game, good for third in the conference. The Chicago native ranks second in the SEC with four double-doubles. He has notched 20 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 29th in the SEC with 11.5 points per game and also ranks among the league leaders in assists (8th at 4.1/game), steals (9th at 2.0/game) and assist-turnover ratio (13th at 1.57).
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.
GASKINS MAKES 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 and sixth in the nation with a .550 3-point field goal percentage and sixth in the league with 2.75 three’s made per game. He has earned the starting nod in the Rebels’ last three games and scored 12, 13 and 10 in those contests.
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.
Through the first eight games of the season, Ole Miss ranks third in the SEC and 16th in the country in field-goal percentage, making baskets at a 50.6 percent clip. The Rebels have shot over 50 percent from the floor in five of the first eight contests.
Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 143-46 record (.757 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.
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 7.4 points in 13.3 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 three contests. The long-range threat made back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half to close a 7-point deficit to just one in the win over Winthrop. 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 six 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 has made two television appearance this 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.
OLE MISS VISITS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
As part of their trip to the Mississippi state capital, the Ole Miss players, coaches and staff visited the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson this past week. The Rebels played games and handed out posters and basketballs while visiting with kids at the hospital before their open practice and autograph session with fans later in the afternoon.
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.