High Flying Hoops

Ole Miss ended its season at the hands of the Dayton Flyers last spring in Madison Square Garden. Tad Smith Coliseum won't ever be confused with one of the world's most famous arenas. But the Rebels and Dayton square off again today, this time in Oxford.

The Flyers pulled away late for a 68-63 victory at Madison Square Garden, thanks in part to 22 points from Chris Johnson, who is a junior forward this season. The Flyers went on to win the title with a 79-68 victory against North Carolina.

Dayton enters today's 6 p.m. contest 2-0 with wins over Mount St. Mary's (67-52) and Akron (76-68). The senior duo of Chris Wright and Devin Searcy have made an immediate impact on both ends of the floor. Both have double-doubles in their first two contests of the year.

Wright leads Dayton in scoring with 17.0 points per game, while Searcy has a team-best 11.5 rebounds per contest. The Dayton defense has been strong early, limiting opponents to .339 shooting from the field and recording 10 blocks in the first two games.

Terrance Henry

Today's game is a result of not only the two teams playing in New York City seven months ago but also the need both had for early-season games.

Rebs Playing Well:

Ole Miss is 2-0 and looked solid as a rock in the second game, a 77-61 win against a good Murray State program that won 31 games and beat Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament last year.

Nick Williams and Zach Graham combined for 43 points and 10 rebounds, as Ole Miss ran away from Murray State for an impressive, resume-building win Wednesday night.

"That's a good basketball team," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We scheduled them knowing they were going to come in here and really test us. We were going to find out a lot about our team. We've still got some execution issues, but I thought we really took a step forward tonight."

Graham led all scorers with a career-high 22 points. His previous career high was 20 points against Arkansas in 2009.

The 6-foot-6 guard was 6 of 11 from the floor, including 3 of 4 in his 3-point attempts.

"It seemed like their game plan was to pressure Chris (Warren), and I wouldn't be surprised to see that more," Graham said. "Chris is going to draw every team's best defender. When teams are pressuring Chris like that, we've got to help Chris out and just make plays. That's what we tried to do tonight."

Williams, in his first season at Ole Miss after sitting out a year following a transfer from Indiana, had a career-high 21 points. His performance came on the heels of an eight-point, five-rebound effort in Ole Miss' season-opening win over Arkansas State.

"I think he brings a good energy. I think he does a lot of things for us," Kennedy said of Williams. "And when he's making shots, obviously it adds a new dimension to us."

Bigs Cause Trouble:

John Brady, the Arkansas State head coach, said it was Chris Warren who made the difference in the Rebs' 68-60 win against ASU in the season opener. If you recall, the senior all-star point guard had 26 points and took over the game late, leading his team to a season-opening victory.

Reginald Buckner

Billy Kennedy, the Murray State head coach, expressed his postgame concerns for what the Rebels did to his team inside.

"Those big guys inside really caused us problems," he said, specifically mentioning sophomore center Reginald Buckner, who had eight points, five rebounds, and three blocked shots.

But it was also the Rebel frontcourt that created some adverse situations for the talented Racers, who are projected to again be NCAA Tournament participants.

Foul trouble haunted MSU from the start when their front-court, Jeffery McClain and Ivan Aska, picked up their third and second foul respectively early in the game.

"The foul trouble for Jeff and Ivan made us play our young guys, and they were not ready for this kind of environment," Billy Kennedy said. "We had too many turnovers, some were unforced, but Ole Miss had a lot to do with it."

Up next: Big Ten, ACC foes:

Ole Miss hosts Penn State of the Big Ten Conference in its next action on Friday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. That's the night after Thanksgiving Day and the night before the Egg Bowl football game.

Then the Rebels hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to Miami (Fla.) for a Tuesday, Nov. 30 (6 p.m. CT) game against the Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Those two games are further indication that this year's early-season Ole Miss schedule is one of the most challenging and attractive in years.

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