Ole Miss is one of the surprise teams in the nation with a 14-1 record and almost remained unbeaten, losing an 85-83 heartbreaker to Tennessee. And Kentucky, well they're still Kentucky unless someone tells me otherwise. Billy Gillespie's team is coming off its first significant win of the year, knocking off Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Ole Miss is a strong, physical basketball team with big time rebounders Dwayne Curtis (8.2/game) and Kenny Williams (8.4/game). Freshman Chris Warren was very impressive in the loss to Tennessee and leads the team in scoring at 15.8, followed by Curtis (14.9) Eniel Polynice (12.8) and former Gator David Huertas (9.9).
Billy Donovan on the Ole Miss Rebels:
"They do a lot of things well, but if there was one thing I think they do exceptionally well is they're a terrific rebounding team. They have the ability to shoot the ball from beyond the three point line (8.5/game) and they've gotten off to a great start. They were a team last year that really started to surge at the end of the year and really had some big wins. They are a really balanced team. I think everybody thought, and still does that Tennessee is the best team top to bottom in the league and for them to go in there and have a chance to win on the road speaks volumes about their toughness. It's a tough place to place and another great challenge for our guys."
This week will also give fans a chance to see three of the four best freshmen in the conference. That starts with Nick Calathes matching up with Ole Miss rookie Chris Warren Wednesday night and continues with the Gators facing Patrick Patterson on Saturday night.
Chris Warren is from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando. Calathes is from Lake Howell just outside that Central Florida tourist hotbed. Calathes is hard to pigeon hole into one spot since he plays all three perimeter positions for the Gators. Warren on the other hand is just 5-10 and is a true point guard, but more of a scoring point than most.
Let's look at the numbers the two rookies have put up so far.
Warren has made 44 shots from long range while Calathes has knocked down 27. Both make about 75 percent of their free throws. While they will not be guarding each other most of the time, the freshman sensation that plays the best Wednesday night will likely help his team to a win.
Billy Donovan on Warren "getting away":
"It was hard for us recruiting the last couple of years, not knowing what was going to happen with Taurean (Green). Before the season started and a lot of these guys (Calathes, Warren, etc) signed and Sidney Green, Taurean's father told me he's coming back (for his senior year), he's definitely coming back. I understand that things change and I was very supportive Taurean's decision to go. Chris was a kid that I always liked and admired and respected as a player. Probably for us timing was more of a factor than anything else with where we were in our program and he was in his life getting ready to make a decision."