Zach Attack

Zach Graham has never been one for words. He's more the lead-by-example type. His play on the floor did all the talking Wednesday night against Auburn.

The senior guard, who is just seven wins shy of becoming the all-time winningest player in program history, eclipsed his career-high scoring total with 30 points -- the most by a Rebel this season -- leading Ole Miss to a lopsided, 90-59 win over Auburn.

The 31-point win was the largest Rebel victory over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2001.

"Coach just tells us to play with confidence," Graham, true to his selfless form, said. "That's what we tried to do. Nick Williams, he stepped up and made some big 3s. He's playing with confidence. We just have to have it collectively going into the next game."

Graham didn't want to talk about himself in the bowels of Tad Smith Coliseum postgame. He was merely happy with a win. However, his head coach, Andy Kennedy, acknowledged the significance of Graham's performance. Graham had been struggling. He needed to breakout.

Graham had a career-high in points and 3-pointers Wednesday
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
And he did in a big way. He was 9 of 15 from the floor, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range. He made five of his seven free throws.

"He needed that so bad," Kennedy said. "He's really worked. He's been in this gym working. He wants it, man. He's playing with a great sense of urgency. We all know he's a super kid. For me, it was rewarding. Maybe he can exhale a little bit."

"I knew I hit more shots than I usually do, but I'm just glad we won," Graham said. "I've just been working hard. To see it pay off, it's good. But our work is not done. We've got another big game on Saturday."

Ole Miss went some nine minutes without a field goal in the first half, leading Auburn by only three, 20-17, with just under six minutes remaining until halftime. They were shooting well under 40 percent from the floor. Points were hard to come by for both teams.

But Ole Miss caught fire, thanks mostly to the hot hand of Graham, who had 11 of the team's first 15 points. Graham had 14 points total in the first half, as the Rebels reeled off a 19-5 run to lead 39-21 at the half. The game was all but over. All attention turned to Graham. And he put on a show.

He scored six points over a 14-5 Ole Miss run to open the second half. He reached 30 with 7:03 left. Ole Miss was cruising. Late in the game, Graham needed but one more 3 to match Keith Carter's single-game record.

But when he got the ball, he was defended well. So he passed, instead settling for a career-high seven treys -- good for a tie of second place all-time.

Henry scored all of his 14 points in the second half
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
"We drew up a play for the last one. (Kennedy) told me this was my last one before I come out," he said. "But I wasn't open when I got it, so I didn't shoot it."

"Zach had a helluva game," junior forward Terrance Henry said. "He was making everything he threw up. Coach was trying to get him a 3-point record in the game, but he couldn't find the last one. That was big for him getting back into a rhythm."

Graham had some help in the game. He was one of four Rebels in double-digit points. Chris Warren had 15, while Reginald Buckner added 11 points, four rebounds and three blocks. Henry had 14 points, all in the second half.

Ole Miss shot 57 percent from the floor for the game, compared to 41 percent for Auburn. Chris Denson was Auburn's leading scorer with 16 points. Ole Miss won the rebounding battle, 33-26. The Rebels had 11 steals and 19 assists.

"We're getting to the back stretch of the season," Graham said. "Our backs are against the wall. This shows what type of player you are, what type of team you are."

Ole Miss is now 17-9 overall and 5-6 in Southeastern Conference play. Next up is a road trip to in-state rival Mississippi State Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Auburn fell to 9-16 overall and 2-9 in league games.

"For us, it's about getting the next one," Kennedy said. "It's an opportunity. Mississippi State has a talented team. Their five starters are as good as anybody in this league. We know it's going to be a big challenge for us."

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