Primer: Ole Miss - N.C. A&T

Ole Miss (3-0) hosts North Carolina A&T (1-2) today at 3 p.m. What to watch for? We take a look.

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Game: Ole Miss - North Carolina A&T
Date: Nov. 26, 3 p.m.
Location: Oxford, Miss.
TV/Radio: None/Ole Miss Radio Network

The Lede:

Ole Miss is 3-0 as it readies to host North Carolina A&T this afternoon. As ugly as the wins were at times, including a too-close-for-comfort, 72-70 win at Coastal Carolina, the Rebels have done what's needed prior to an all-important work trip to Brooklyn, N.Y., later this week for the remainder of the Barclays Center Classic.

Ole Miss had struggled offensively prior to its 111-82 win over Mississippi Valley State, most notably in the front court. The Rebel bigs, consisting almost exclusively of juniors Aaron Jones and Demarco Cox and freshmen Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby, had totaled all of 33 combined points. Jones was responsible for 17 of those points.

Cox broke out in a big way against MVSU, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. It was his first double-double since 2010 and was hopefully a sign of good things to come. As the games get tougher, starting with Georgia Tech Friday at 3:30 p.m., the Rebels will need Cox to be at least a threat on the offensive end. He's proven capable enough as a rebounder.

Scouting North Carolina A&T:

Demarco Cox
USA TODAY images

North Carolina A&T is 1-2 on the young season after dropping road contents at Utah Valley and Rhode Island. The Aggie won their season opener versus Greensboro College to start the year. Senior Lamont Middleton leads the squad with 19.7 points per game and senior Richaud Pack is close behind averaging 19.0 points. Sophomore Bruce Beckford leads the team pulling down 7.5 boards per game.

The Rebels boast an 90-24 record (.789 win pct.) against teams outside the SEC since Andy Kennedy took over in 2006-07, including a 61-2 mark at home. The Rebels are 3-0 versus non-conference competition this season including a 2-0 mark at home.

The Rundown:

Friday was a welcomed sight for Kennedy and the Ole Miss offense. Not only did Cox, who was limited to all of seven games last season due to a stress fracture in his foot, notch the second double-double of his career, but Derrick Millinghaus produced a career-high 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting.

The performance of Millinghaus was significant, because if the sophomore guard can prove consistent enough (he entered the game shooting 36 percent), Kennedy could use Jarvis Summers, who leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game, off the ball more, allowing Ole Miss to go small with each of its most dynamic scorers on the floor in Millinghaus, Summers and Marshall Henderson.

"Really good offensively," Kennedy said of the 5-foot-10, 172-pound Millinghaus following the win vs. MVSU. "Gave us great push. When he's in the game, we can get up and down the floor and make things happen in the open court."

However, if Ole Miss is to get through the most challenging portion of its non-conference schedule, critical in building a respectable NCAA tournament resume, Cox and Jones will have to do their part. Friday was a good start for Cox. Jones has been steady so far, averaging 8.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. Ole Miss needs more. Saiz will need time to grow. Coleby was out with a minor injury and didn't play against MVSU. He's ready physically, but Kennedy can't count on him for any considerable minutes yet.

Cox is important.

"I was just waiting on that big game to come," Cox said after MVSU. "I didn't know tonight was going to be the game, it just came at the right time. A lot of confidence going my way for the next game coming up."

Spirit's Pick:

Ole Miss

Ole Miss Logo
Today's game, not unlike MVSU, should be an easy win for Ole Miss. If anything, Kennedy will again be able to use his entire bench. The rotation is fairly set, though Saiz or Anthony Perez could have a say in how Kennedy distributes minutes in Brooklyn. Saiz is slowly coming along, while Perez is pushing for a starting role. He has the tools. If/when he puts them together, he'll be a real asset.

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