Southeastern Conference (21-10, 9-7)
Big Wins: 11/20 vs Kansas State (86-74), 12/16 vs UTEP (91-81), 1/20 South Carolina (66-57)
Bad Losses: 1/9 Mississippi State (75-80), 1/30 Arkansas (73-80), 2/11 at Mississippi State (63-71)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2002, First Round loss to UCLA
Coach: Andy Kennedy (First NCAA appearance)
Why They Can Surprise:
Mississippi has three great scorers in the backcourt and it all starts with Chris Warren. The 5-10 junior was an All-Conference honoree as a freshman, but missed most of his sophomore campaign with a knee injury. Warren is back at full strength and leading the Rebels with 17.2 points per game. Warren is a prolific outside shooter and knocks down over three long balls per game. Warren will also attack the basket and finish or find one of his teammates.
Terrico White had to pick up the point guard duties last year as a freshman and that really forced him to mature. The result this season has been a steady wing who takes smart shots and has the ability to find his teammates. Standing at 6-5, White is also a solid rebounder. Warren was not the only player gone from last year’s team. Eniel Polynice played in one game before suffering a leg injury. The multi-faceted wing was sorely missed. While he is not much of a shooter, Polynice will use his size and strength to attack the basket. Yet, Polynice is also a superb passer and leads the team in assists and is one of the better defenders on the team.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Despite having two quality rebounders on the wing, this is still a team that gets beat on the glass quite a bit. Murphy Holloway is one of the usual starters up front. The 6-7 sophomore is developing into a fine interior scorer and has always been a decent rebounder, but he needs some help. At 6-9 and 260 pounds, DeAundre Cranston has the size to fill the void. He is not a bad rebounder, but he usually ends up in foul trouble before he has much of a chance to make a major contribution. However, the fact that he can step outside and hit the mid-range jumper makes him difficult to defend. Terrance Henry is a little undersized to help out much on the glass and spends most of his time spelling Polynice or White at the small forward position. The x-factor in the frontcourt is Reginald Buckner. An injury in February has slowed his progress, but Buckner is a good rebounder and easily the team’s best shot blocker.
Who To Watch:
Ole Miss has a couple other scoring options on the perimeter. Zach Graham has earned a handful of starts due to his consistent outside shooting. At 6-6, Graham also gives the team even more size on the wings. Trevor Gaskins has struggled with his shot this year, and is another player who missed last season with an injury, but he has plenty of potential if his shot starts falling.
Chris Warren, Junior, Guard, 17.2 ppg, 3.4 apg
Zach Graham, Junior, Guard, 9.0 ppg, 1.6 apg
Terrico White, Sophomore, Guard, 14.4 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.5 rpg
Murphy Holloway, Sophomore, Forward, 9.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg
DeAundre Cranston, Senior, Forward, 3.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Reginald Buckner, Freshman, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg
Trevor Gaskins, Sophomore, Guard, 4.4 ppg, 1.5 apg
Terrance Henry, Sophomore, Forward, 6.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Eniel Polynice, Junior, Guard, 9.8 ppg, 4.1 apg, 4.3 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.4 (23rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.9 (209, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (60, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (67, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (23, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.5 (74, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.8 (232, 9)
Rebound Margin: 1.6 (133, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (105, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (67, 3)
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