Record-setting Rebels Roll

Andy Kennedy's 18th-ranked Ole Miss basketball team won its 13th game in a row Wednesday night, an 86-50 victory against Alabama A&M.

The 13 consecutive wins are a new school record. It's also a new school mark for consecutive wins to start a season.

Kennedy, the second-year coach of the Rebels now 34-13 at the helm, said he honestly could have envisioned a start like the one his team has put together.

"I could. Our goal is to win every game," he said.

So far in 2007-08, the Rebels have done just that.

While Kennedy isn't surprised, others may be. After all, this is a team that was picked last in the SEC West. But it has proven all the prognosticators and doubters wrong so far as it heads into SEC play.

Likely Alabama A&M didn't stand a chance when it arrived in Oxford. After the Rebels jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the game's first three minutes, the runaway was on.

Eniel Polynice had the hot hand early with a tip-in followed by a 3-pointer from the right corner for the Rebels' first points of the game. David Huertas and Chris Warren followed with 3-pointers of their own. The wealth was spreading, and so was the distance between the Rebels and Bulldogs in this one.

Dwayne Curtis stole the basketball, got it to Huertas who fed Jermey Parnell for a slam to give the Rebels the early 13-point advantage.

The first media timeout came and went before Alabama A&M got on the scoreboard. A layup by Evan Hilton made it 13-2 with 15:22 to go in the first half. But Ole Miss kept the pressure on, especially offensively, and led 30-9 on a drive and layup by Huertas with 7:22 to go before halftime.

The Rebels' lead was its largest in the first half at 28 points when a 3-pointer by Trevor Gaskins from 22 feet gave UM a 45-17 advantage with 1:11 to go before intermission. Ole Miss led 46-19 when the teams headed into the locker room.

The second half was mostly more of the same as Ole Miss expanded its lead to 34 points on a layup by Warren earlyon to make it 53-19. The Rebs' largest leads were 36 points on a Kenny Williams slam (82-46) and on a Terrence Watson dunk late for the final margin of victory.

Leading the Rebels was Huertas with 17 points, followed by Warren with 15.

A&M was paced by LaNorris Smith with 12 and Andrew Williams with 10.

The Rebels shot 53 percent (35-66) from the field, including 48 percent (11-23) from 3-point range. The Bulldogs shot just 31 percent (18-58) from the floor.

"You never really know," said Kennedy of how his team would handle this game, which followed recent contests with DePaul, LaSalle, Clemson, and Southern Mississippi, and was prior to the SEC opener. "Our guys are like everybody. When you approach January, you have the opportunity to play in your league. And our kids are certainly looking forward to that."

Polynice said the team came out firing and scoring in this one and wasn't looking ahead to league play.

"We were only worried about getting this win and making history and breaking records," the sophomore guard with 13 points in the contest said of the Rebels' historic start. "We're taking it one game at a time. We've been patient all year, and we were again tonight."

Kennedy said he likes his squad's focus, and he said it was another positive night in many ways.

"I've been pleased with these kids," Kennedy said. "They have a pretty business-like approach. Even in practice we've been pretty consistent. We're getting better in a number of areas. Tonight was another opportunity for us to gain more experience, most especially for our new guys. And I thought they responded."

Just as they have all season long.


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