Rebel hoops looks to move to 5-0 tonight

Chris Warren has played only four games here. But the soft-spoken, lightning-quick, athletic freshman point guard of the Ole Miss Rebels is getting more comfortable all the time.

"I've still got a lot of learning to do," said the Orlando, Fla., native. "There's a lot to work on in practice. I'm still turning over the ball too much. Hopefully I'll get better at that soon. That's my goal."

The Rebels, 4-0 on the young season, host Troy tonight in Oxford at 7. It's another chance for Warren to improve, and another chance for the Rebels as a team to get another important non-conference win.

"All the teams are giving us good competition," said Warren, averaging 12.5 points per game in 23.3 minutes of action, with an average of seven assists per game and less than three turnovers. "We know it gets tougher. Other teams may expose us more, but we hope we'll be ready. I'm looking forward to even greater competition."

The Rebs needed a point guard to emerge this season after Todd Abernethy graduated. Warren stepped up and continues to do so.

Ole Miss currently has the top-scoring offense (95 points per game) among Southeastern Conference teams this season. But it's not all about handling the basketball and scoring. Warren says the theme this week for the Rebels has been more about defense than offense.

"Coach has been emphasizing defense," he said as the Rebels are allowing 70.2 points per contest. "We know that's an area we need to improve."

The last time Ole Miss began a season 5-0 was in 2000-01, when the Rebs reeled off 11 straight victories to open that campaign and wound up in the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen at season's end.

The Trojans are 1-3 on the season after finishing just short of a comeback attempt in a 97-92 loss to former Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes' Georgia State Panthers on Saturday.

Andy Kennedy says the Rebels know Troy will be another tough test for his young team.

"They shoot a lot of 3s, and as a coach that scares you," he said. "It's going to be an up and down game. If they make 'em, you're in for a long night. So we've got to do a good job pressing up on their shooters. They scored 133 points in a game this year, and that shows they've got ability."

Kennedy feels the Rebels have been able to dictate the pace of the games they've played in so far, and some of that obviously has to be attributed to Warren's directing the troops.

"Pace hasn't been an issue to this point, but a lot of it is that teams want to play fast," he said. "I believe (Troy) will be more of the same."

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