GAME 11: Ole Miss (7-4) vs. Florida A&M (2-8)
Monday 12.22.08 | 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
OLE MISS HOSTS FLORIDA A&M BEFORE BREAK
After a trip to Cincinnati which resulted in a 77-68 loss to No. 9 Louisville in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, Ole Miss returns to Oxford to host Florida A&M on Monday before having several days off during Christmas week. The result against the Cardinals was not the only downside to the Rebels’ trip, as sophomore point guard Chris Warren’s knee injury was revealed Friday to be a torn ACL, making him the Rebels’ third player lost to a season-ending knee injury. The Orlando native currently ranks as the SEC’s fourth-leading scorer at 19.6 ppg. The Rebels also were faced with the distraction of an arrest of head coach Andy Kennedy for simple assault early Thursday, which charges the Rebels’ third-year coach vehemently denies. Kennedy has already filed a defamation of character lawsuit against the accuser and a stated witness of the alleged incident.
INJURIES PILING UP IN UNPRECEDENTED FASHION
To call the 2008-09 Ole Miss basketball season “injury-plagued” would be an understatement. Before conference play has even begun, the Rebels are down three key members of the backcourt to season-ending knee injuries. In an 11-day stretch during the first two weeks of play, the Rebels lost sophomore Trevor Gaskins (torn ACL in left knee) and junior Eniel Polynice (extensive cartilage damage and loose fragments in left knee). And then on Thursday, sophomore point guard Chris Warren suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on the Rebels’ last offensive possession of the 77-68 loss to No. 9 Louisville.
Gaskins and Polynice have both begun rehab following their surgeries, while Warren’s procedure has not yet been scheduled but will most likely be slated for after Christmas. Each is expected to be ready by next season.
The team is applying for, and expects to be granted, medical hardship waivers for Gaskins and Polynice, which would give each an extra year of eligibility, while it is still uncertain if Warren will be eligible for the medical redshirt based on the number of games he has already played.
All three were primed to be key components of a Rebel backcourt touted by at least one preseason publication (Blue Ribbon Yearbook) as the best in the SEC. Warren goes out as the league’s fourth-leading scorer at 19.6 ppg and also ranking in the top 10 in assists, steals, free-throw percentage, three-pointers and assist-turnover ratio, while claiming the SEC’s top spot with 34.4 minutes played per game. Polynice averaged 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 34 games last year and was known as the team’s best defender, while Gaskins was a member of the SEC All-Freshman team with Warren.
SCOUTING THE RATTLERS
Florida A&M enters Monday’s contest with a 2-8 overall record. The Rattlers have already played three times against Southeastern Conference teams, losing games at Alabama (89-48), Arkansas (86-61) and Florida (73-58). Their two wins have come against Morehead State (79-74) and Kennesaw State (63-58). Head coach Eugene Harris’ club had a 10-point road loss in its last outing at the Big 12’s Texas A&M (67-57), while it has played just two of its 10 games at home, with six away and two at neutral sites. FAMU averages 58.6 ppg while giving up 77.6 ppg to opponents, but does have a +0.6 turnover ratio as the team commits 12.9 turnovers per game while forcing 13.5. Lamar Twitty is the only Rattler averaging double-figure points with 11.8. Yannick Crowder paces the team in rebounding (5.3 rpg) and blocks (13), while Joe Ballard is the top assist man with 3.7/game. FAMU was 15-17 last year and finished in 6th place in the MEAC with a 9-7 league record.
OLE MISS-FLORIDA A&M SERIES
The Rebels and Rattlers are meeting for the first time.
WARREN’S SEASON OVER
Sophomore point guard Chris Warren, a preseason All-SEC first team selection by league coaches, will miss the remainder of the season after an MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (as well as a minor MCL sprain, medial meniscus tear and lateral bone contusion) to his left knee. The injury occurred on a layup attempt on the Rebels’ last offensive possession of the 77-68 loss to No. 9 Louisville in Cincinnati Thursday.
Through 11 games, the Orlando native was following up a sensational rookie campaign in which he broke the school’s three-point record and set the freshman scoring record by showing further improvement in several areas and ranking fourth in the SEC with 19.6 points per game. He also ranked among the top SEC players in several other categories at the time of his injury, as listed below:
Warren’s SEC Ranks (AS OF 12/19)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 4th/50th 19.6/game
Assists T-9th 4.0/game
FT Percentage 4th/45th 85.5
Steals 2nd/38th 2.5/game
3-pt FGs Made T-8th 2.3/game
Assist-Turnover Ratio 8th 1.6
Minutes Played 1st 34.4/game
Ole Miss had already been forced to make backcourt adjustments after sophomore Trevor Gaskins and junior Eniel Polynice went down with season-ending injuries in the first two weeks of the season, but all-star point guard Chris Warren’s injury means even more changes are now needed. Only four scholarship guards remain on the roster - junior David Huertas, sophomore Zach Graham and freshmen Will Bogan and Terrico White. Bogan has served as Warren’s back-up at the point through the first 11 games and is expected to start Monday night vs. Florida A&M. Any of the other three, as well as senior non-scholarship player Patrick Spach, could see some action as the team’s floor general.
REBELS SHOW RESOLVE VERSUS LOUISVILLE
Amidst difficult off-court circumstances surrounding the Ole Miss team on Thursday, the Rebel squad proved resilient on the court despite a 77-68 loss to the 9th-ranked Louisville Cardinals in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational. Down by as many as 18 points in the first half, Ole Miss fought back to tie the score at 67 on a Chris Warren 3-pointer with 5:29 remaining. David Huertas scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, while Warren also contributed to the comeback with 18 points before leaving the game in the final 30 seconds with what was later found to be a torn ACL. The Rebels forced Louisville into 16 turnovers with 11 steals, while only committing seven turnovers. Ole Miss also grabbed 43 rebounds, the second-most in a game this season.
Ole Miss boasts a 36-9 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.
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 a 25-game home win streak over non-league foes and a nine-game overall home win streak, but Ole Miss came back to win 85-81 over Alabama State last Monday. Ole Miss is now 37-4 in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum over the last three seasons.
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 will culminate with the unveiling of the All-Century Team at the Feb. 21 game against Georgia at Tad Smith Coliseum.
FREE-THROW SHOOTING EXPLOITS
Ole Miss leads all Southeastern Conference teams and ranks 13th in the nation with a 77.4 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 85.5 percent free-throw shooting (59-of-69), while David Huertas ranks seventh at 81.2 (56-of-69). 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 a 79.2 percent clip (19-of-24).
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 7.4 treys per game and fourth with a .362 3-point percentage. They have drained 10 or more from downtown on three occasions, including two of the last four outings.
Individually, David Huertas ranks second in the SEC with 3.1 treys per game and a .447 3-point percentage, while Chris Warren is tied for eighth with 2.3/game.
HUERTAS & WARREN SHOULDERING THE LOAD
Leading up to Chris Warren’s season-ending knee injury, junior guard David Huertas and Warren made up a potent duo playing the majority of minutes and scoring most of the points for the Rebels through 11 games. Each is averaging over 32 minutes per game (Warren-34.4, Huertas-32.5), while the duo combines for 40.5 points per contest, 52.9 percent of the team’s 77.5 average. In fact, Huertas and Warren have been the Rebels’ top two scorers in 10 of the first 11 games. Huertas ranks second in the SEC with 20.9 points per game, while Warren is fourth with a 19.6 average. Entering last 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).
HUERTAS TAKES GAME TO A NEW LEVEL
David Huertas has had a hot shooting touch in the Rebels’ first 11 games, averaging a team-high 20.9 points, good for 2nd in the SEC and 24th in the nation. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points in 8 of the 11 contests, including 20 in the most recent outing vs. No. 9 Louisville. He also set or tied career highs with 8 free-throws, 2 blocks and 4 steals against the Cardinals. He ranks second in the SEC in 3’s per game (3.1) and 3-point percentage (44.7). Against South Alabama, he poured in a season-high 27 points and tied his career high with 7 three’s, which is also 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. He ranks among the SEC leaders in several categories this year, as listed below:
Huertas’ SEC Ranks (AS OF 12/19)
Category SEC/NCAA Rank Statistic
Points 2nd/24th 20.9/game
Rebounding 30th 4.7/game
FG Percentage 8th 51.5
FT Percentage 7th 81.2
3-pt FG Percentage 2nd/35th 44.7
3-pt FGs Made 2nd/37th 3.1/game
Minutes Played 4th 32.5/game
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. Freshman forward Murphy Holloway leads the team with 5.0 rebounds per game and has averaged 6.7 over the past 3 games, with a career-high 7 against both New Mexico and Louisville. Sophomore forward Malcolm White showed a lot of promise against Alabama State with a career-high nine boards while also tying his career high with 12 points. DeAundre Cranston grabbed nine boards on Thursday against Louisville to tie White’s mark for the second-highest individual rebounding effort by a Rebel this season, set by Cranston when the junior college transfer had 12 in the win over UCF on Nov. 26.
FRESHMEN MAKING STRIDES
A couple of freshmen have had breakthrough performances in recent games and will be counted on even more now with the loss of point guard Chris Warren for the season. 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, while he added 6 points and 7 boards vs. Louisville in the most recent outing. 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.
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 8 times in the first 11 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 nine.
RECORDS THAT WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
In just their second season playing for the Red and Blue, Chris Warren and David Huertas have both moved up Ole Miss’ career three-point charts at a break-neck pace. With 25 treys this year, Warren eclipsed Clarence Sanders for seventh place on the all-time list with 128. Huertas has knocked down 34 from long range and is now in ninth place in the Rebel records with 109.
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. 128 Chris Warren (46 games, 2008-present)
8. 127 Clarence Sanders (60 games, 2006-07)
9. 109 David Huertas (46 games, 2008-present)
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Will Bogan: Expected to make first career start on Monday night vs. Florida A&M ... Has served as Chris Warren’s back-up at point guard through first 11 games ... 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 had 9 rebounds against No. 9 Louisville ... 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 11 games ... 8 points with season-high 7 rebounds in start vs. No. 9 Louisville ... 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 a 79.2 percent clip (19-of-24) ... 5 points and 5 rebounds vs. No. 9 Louisville ... 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: Leads team with a 5.0 rebounding average ... Leads team and ranks eighth in SEC with 2.7 offensive boards per game ... Tied season-high with 7 rebounds vs. No. 9 Louisville ... 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 10th in the SEC in blocked shots with 14 (1.3/game) ... Had career night vs. Alabama State, tying career high with 12 points and established new personal best with 9 rebounds ... Has started 8 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.