Ole Miss hosts South Alabama today at 7 p.m., and the Rebels will be without two veteran guards. Trevor Gaskins, a sophomore, will redshirt because of an ACL tear suffered in practice. He will have surgery Friday.
Eniel Polynice, a junior, is having scope surgery on a knee today, the same one that was scoped in April. He will be out for a while, but how long is unknown at this point.
So now Kennedy is down to five guards – junior David Huertas, sophomores Chris Warren and Zach Graham, and freshmen Terrico White and Will Bogan.
"South Alabama's still coming. We'll line up and play," said Kennedy, obviously frustrated with the injury situation for his 1-0 team. "We've still got 10 players and three walkons. It doesn't take but five, so we'll figure it out."
Kennedy said the developments have been disturbing.
"We've got a lot of issues as it relates to health overall," he said. "I don't understand it. It could be bad luck. We've tried to evaluate what we're doing and make sure we're not doing anything to hurt us."
It would have been a challenge to figure out rotations and who to play when. Now it has turned into more of what the team is capable of doing with the remaining players. There are obviously still talented players but a lot of them are young. There is still a certain style Kennedy wants to play, but the staff has to evaluate to see what might work at this point.
"The reality is we're still learning a lot," he said. "We're down from seven scholarship guards to five, but we like our five. We have to make some changes based on who is available. With Trevor and EP out, that's two of our most experienced players. It's hard to expand what you want to get to, because you're dealing with a lot of new guys and they've got to get the foundation first."
Graham, one of the remaining five, has also not been 100 percent.
"He's been a little banged up as well," Kennedy said. "He missed some practice last week with some tendonitis issues."
Huertas has stepped up to be a leader and scored 24 points in 34 minutes in the season-opening 65-52 win against Arkansas State.
"David played very well," Kennedy said. "We needed him to do that."
Terrico White was only 1-for-7 with two points in the opener but logged 18 minutes. It helped the 6-foot-5 guard get his large feet wet at the college level, so to speak.
"When I first got in, I tried to shoot and it went off to the left," White said. "That came from being nervous. I tried to get rebounds and play defense. I know I have to step up in practice and in games and play as hard as I can."
White, who says moving defensively in his size 16 shoes can be challenging, has taken one of Polynice's roles upon his own shoulders. That's the one concerning the fact that the coaches usually put Polynice on the opposing team's best offensive player. White's answer was quick and to the point when asked who would fill that important role.
"Me," said the talented freshman. "I will."
Bogan got seven minutes in the opener backing up Warren, missing a couple of 3-point shots, getting a block, a rebound, and a steal with one assist and going 1-of-2 at the free throw line.
Kennedy said the Jaguars bring in a talented team that has postseason experience.
"They're very fast. Their front line is very talented from a ball skills standpoint. One of their kids had 21 (points) and 14 (rebounds) in the opener (an 87-79 win against Alcorn State). The other kid was close to a double-double. The two guards we saw in here last year are now gone and have been replaced by two junior college players. They are making their first road trip in Division I. So they are a little different on the perimeter, but their front line is still very potent. They won 26 games last year and made it to the NCAA Tournament. So they return a lot of experience."
With a young and inexperienced front line himself, Kennedy said tonight's matchup will be interesting.
"It will certainly be another challenge for us," he said. "We will have faced two teams made up of seniors and juniors. Physically Arkansas State did some things to us early that I thought we responded to in the second half. (South Alabama) will be a little bit different challenge because of their skill level. We'll have to do some things away from the basket."
Ole Miss-USA game notes from Joey Jones of Ole Miss athletics media relations:
GAME 2: Ole Miss (1-0) vs. South Alabama (1-0)
Tuesday 11.18.08 | 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. | C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Keith Carter, analyst). Listen Online through RebelVision
Live Stats: OleMissSports.com
OLE MISS HOSTS USA JAGUARS IN GAME TWO
After earning a 65-52 win over Arkansas State in Friday's season opener, Ole Miss returns to the court Tuesday night with a home game against South Alabama. The Jaguars earned an at-large bid to last year's NCAA Tournament after claiming the regular season Sun Belt Conference title and finishing with a record of 26-7 overall and 16-2 in SBC play. USA won its season opener Friday 87-79 over Alcorn State. Ole Miss earned a narrow 81-78 victory over the Jaguars in the second game of the regular season last year. On Friday, David Huertas scored 24 points, including 18 in the second half, to propel the Rebels to an opening night win. Chris Warren added 14, and six players made their Ole Miss debut, including freshman Terrance Henry, who earned a starting nod at forward.
EXPECTATIONS BUILDING FOR REBEL PROGRAM
With Ole Miss coming off its second straight season of 20 or more wins, as well as an appearance in the 2008 NIT Final Four in New York's Madison Square Garden, the programs expecatations continue to rise as Andy Kennedy and his staff enter their third year at the helm.
Kennedy is the fourth coach in league history to amass 45 or more wins in his first two seasons at an SEC school, and last year's 24 wins were the second-highest total in Ole Miss history.
For the first time since Kennedy's arrival two years ago, the Rebels were not predicted to finish in last place in the SEC's Western Division. Instead, a poll of SEC and national media tabbed Ole Miss third in the West, and the Rebels received eight votes for first place in the division, while Alabama and LSU received 11 each. Despite being predicted last both years, the Rebels claimed the 2007 division title in Kennedy's first year at the helm and finished third a season ago.
In various preseason publications, Ole Miss has been predicted to finish as high as first in the division (Blue Ribbon Yearbook) and is tabbed as an NCAA Tournament team by Athlon, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, among others.
Leading a potent returning backcourt is sophomore point guard Chris Warren, a preseason All-SEC second team pick by the media. He will be joined by juniors Eniel Polynice and David Huertas and sophomore Zach Graham off last year's squad.
Sophomore Malcolm White is the lone returning big man. However, a talented group of three freshmen and a junior college transfer will join White in the frontcourt.
SCOUTING THE JAGUARS
An NCAA at-large team last season, South Alabama enters the 2008-09 campaign as one of the top teams in the Sun Belt Conference. The Jaguars captured last season's SBC regular-season title and finished 26-7 overall and 16-2 in league play. Head coach Ronnie Arrow's squad, picked by league coaches to finish second in the SBC this year, won its season opener Friday 87-79 over Alcorn State. Preseason All-SBC senior forward Brandon Davis posted 21 points and 14 rebounds in the victory. Davis is one of the team's top returnees after starting every game and averaging 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest a year ago. Fellow returning starter DeAndre' Coleman chipped in 14 points, 8 boards and 5 assists against the Braves. Preseason All-SBC senior guard Domonic Tilford did not play in the team's opening contest.
OLE MISS-SOUTH ALABAMA SERIES
Ole Miss leads the all-time series against the Jaguars 3-1, including last year's 81-78 win in the second game of the season in Oxford. Ole Miss is 1-0 in games played in Oxford, while the Rebels won 82-72 in Mobile two years ago. Ole Miss also won 80-61 on Dec. 30, 1969, and South Alabama prevailed 70-54 on Dec. 30, 1975.
REBEL-JAGUAR COACHING TIES
For the third straight year, Rebel head coach Andy Kennedy will face the program that gave him his first coaching position. After playing professionally for three years, the 26-year-old Kennedy served one year as an assistant coach for the Jaguars during the 1994-95 campaign when he was hired by USA coach Ronnie Arrow.
Bob Weltlich manned the Rebel sidelines for six years (1977-82) and directed Ole Miss to the SEC Tournament title and the Rebels' postseason debut in 1981. Weltlich later took the reins of USA for five years (1998-2002) and recorded an 81-65 record. He also took the Jags to the NCAA Tournament and three 20-win seasons.
USA senior forward Brandon Davis will see a few familiar faces on the Ole Miss bench Tuesday. In 2004-05, current Rebel assistant Torrey Ward coached Davis as an assistant on the Jacksonville State staff. A year later, while Davis was sitting out as a transfer at Birmingham-Southern, he practiced under BSC assistant coach Bill Armstrong, who now serves as the Rebels' Coordinator of Basketball Operations.
HUERTAS DOESN'T SKIP A BEAT
Picking up where he left off at the end of last season, David Huertas had a hot shooting touch in Friday's season opener. The junior guard led all scorers with 24 points on the night, converting 8-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-5 from downtown. He also was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free-throw line and brought down six rebounds. Huertas was instrumental in the Rebels' run to the NIT Semifinals last season, averaging 16.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 three's over the final eight games.
NEW REBELS SEE ACTION
Six newcomers on this year's Rebel squad saw action in Friday night's season-opening win over Arkansas State. Freshman Terrance Henry earned a starting nod at forward, becoming the second rookie to start the season opener during coach Andy Kennedy's three-year tenure (Chris Warren last year). Henry and fellow freshman Murphy Holloway each scored 7 points. Other newcomers to see action were freshman guards Will Bogan and Terrico White, JUCO transfer forward DeAundre Cranston and redshirt-freshman forward Kevin Cantinol. Sophomore forward Malcolm White is not a new face, but he did make his first career appearance in the starting lineup in Friday's opener.
DEFENDING HOME COURT
Winning at home has been a trademark of Andy Kennedy's squads since he took over the reins in 2006-07. With the season-opening win over Arkansas State, Ole Miss improved to 33-3 in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum over the last three seasons. The Rebels enter Tuesday's contest vs. South Alabama with six straight home wins overall and 22 straight victories over non-league foes at the Tad Pad.
Ole Miss boasts a 30-5 record against teams outside the Southeastern Conference since Andy Kennedy took over the reins in 2006-07. Last year, the Rebels finished the regular season with a perfect 14-0 record against non-league opponents, becoming the second Rebel squad to ever accomplish that feat (1948-49 team was the other). Of the five losses, two came in the NIT (Clemson and Ohio State) and two to nationally ranked foes on the road during the regular season (No. 19 UConn and No. 16 Memphis).
OLE MISS VERSUS SUN BELT
Ole Miss owns a 52-22 record all-time against teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference. Arkansas State is the most frequent Sun Belt foe, and the Rebels hold a 19-9 edge in that series. Louisiana-Monroe is the next most frequent foe, with the Rebels owning a 13-4 record in that series. South Alabama is the second straight SBC opponent for Ole Miss and one of three this season, including Arkansas State (Nov. 14) and New Orleans (Dec. 6).
GASKINS OUT FOR SEASON WITH ACL INJURY
Ole Miss' backcourt suffered a blow when the team learned on Friday, Nov. 7, that sophomore guard Trevor Gaskins will need to undergo season-ending knee surgery after sustaining an ACL injury to his left knee during practice. He is expected to get a medical redshirt.
The Alpharetta, Ga., native looked to be a key component to a Rebel backcourt touted by Blue Ribbon Yearbook as the best in the SEC entering this season. Gaskins was voted by the league coaches to last year's SEC All-Freshman team after he averaged 5.9 points per contest. He played in all 35 games with eight starts and was third on the team with 46 three-pointers a season ago.
KEITH CARTER JOINS OLE MISS RADIO CREW
A familiar name to Rebel hoops fans may soon become a familiar voice, as the Ole Miss Radio Network has added former Rebel All-American Keith Carter to its basketball broadcast crew for the 2008-09 season.
Carter, who has spent the past six years playing overseas in the Italian professional league, will serve as an analyst and sideline reporter alongside play-by-play announcer David Kellum for Rebel hoops games this season. A four-year starter at Ole Miss, Carter helped the Rebels to a pair of SEC Western Division titles in 1997 and 1998 and was an honorable mention All-America selection by the Associated Press after his 1999 senior season in which he scored 542 points and drained 77 three-pointers.
RADIO BROADCASTS AVAILABLE ONLINE
The Ole Miss radio call for basketball will now be heard online through OleMissSports.com's RebelVision after formerly being available on Yahoo. RebelVision subscribers, who hear the radio broadcasts for all Ole Miss football, basketball and baseball, will also have the opportunity to watch live webcasts of select men's hoops games, including the UCF showdown on Nov. 26 Other games already scheduled to be streamed are New Orleans on Dec. 6 and Florida A&M on Dec. 22.
WARREN NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SEC 1ST TEAM BY SEC COACHES
Ole Miss sophomore point guard Chris Warren has been named a first-team selection on the fifth annual men's basketball coaches preseason All-SEC teams, the Southeastern Conference office announced Monday, Nov. 3. The honor is yet another on Warren's growing list of preseason recognition, which includes a preseason All-SEC second team selection by the media, as well as numerous spots on preseason magazine lists for top players in the SEC and top point guards in the country.
MEDIA TAB OLE MISS THIRD IN SEC WEST, CHRIS WARREN PRESEASON ALL-SEC 2ND TEAM
A select panel of SEC and national media picked Ole Miss to repeat its third-place finish in the SEC West and tabbed Rebel sophomore Chris Warren second-team All-SEC in its preseason poll released Monday, Oct. 20. Ole Miss was picked third behind Alabama and LSU in a close battle for the SEC West title, while Tennessee took the top spot overall and in the East. The media predicted Ole Miss to finish last in the SEC West each of the last two years, but instead Andy Kennedy guided the Rebel program to a share of the 2007 division title in his first season and to a third-place finish and NIT Final Four berth a year ago.
CELEBRATING THE FIRST 100 YEARS
Ole Miss will promote a season-long celebration of the first 100 years of its hoops history during the 2008-09 campaign. Ole Miss Basketball began on Jan. 28, 1909, with a game against the Memphis Physicians, and has been an integral part of University life ever since. The Rebels have suited up and played games every year but 1918 and 1944, missing those due to World Wars I and II.
The 100 Years Celebration will include a special page on the official athletics web site, OleMissSports.com, as well as a series of honored guests and highlights from the past during home games, climaxed by a past player reunion at the Feb. 21 game vs. Georgia. Stay tuned to OleMissSports.com for more information as the season progresses.
SEC'S BEST BACKCOURT?
With the top five members of last year's backcourt all returning, including last year's leading scorer Chris Warren (15.8 ppg, 4.5 apg) and junior starters Eniel Polynice (10.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.1 apg) and David Huertas (10.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Ole Miss might have one of the SEC's top sets of guards. At least one publication (Blue Ribbon Yearbook) rated the Rebels' backcourt best in the SEC in its preseason magazine.
DREAMS OF A BIG DANCE
After coming tantilizingly close to an NCAA Tournament bid in each of Andy Kennedy's first two seasons at the helm, the Rebels look to break into the "Big Dance" this season. Kennedy's squad is now completely comprised of his own recruits, and the Rebels will try to build on the momentum of last year's 24-win season and NIT Final Four appearance at New York's Madison Square Garden. Ole Miss last earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2001-02. The NIT appearances of the last two years broke a string of four straight seasons without a postseason berth from 2003-06.
Ole Miss returns the majority of its backcourt from last season, but suffered "heavy" losses along the front line by the departure of three senior big men. Gone are 6-foot-8, 262-pound All-SEC center Dwayne Curtis, 6-foot-8, 240-pound starting forward Kenny Williams and 6-foot-8, 242-pound forward Jermey Parnell. The lone returning frontcourt member is sophomore Malcolm White, who averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in just 6.7 minutes per game last year. Ole Miss will therefore be relying on several young, but talented, newcomers to fill the big shoes left by those three seniors that helped Ole Miss rank second in the SEC and 12th nationally in rebounding.
PACKING THE PAD
Over the last decade, the "Tad Pad" has proven to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play, and third-year head coach Andy Kennedy only added to that success. Ole Miss owns a 33-3 record at Tad Smith Coliseum since Kennedy took the reins in 2006-07.
The Oxford crowds have jumped on board, too. The 2007-08 season averages of 7,301 fans per game and 8,994 fans at each SEC contest both set school records. The LSU game saw the Tad Pad's second-highest attendance ever with 9,328 fans and the Florida game crowd of 9,304 ranks sixth in arena annals. Six of last year's crowds ranked among the top 20 in facility history.
Ole Miss has won 164 of its last 199 games (.824 winning percentage) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. The Rebels have an all-time record of 399-182 (.687 winning percentage) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1965-66.
REBELS ON TV
At least 15 games will be televised this season, marking the 11th straight season that the Rebels will have played 10 or more TV games. Nationally televised contests include Dec. 18 vs. Louisville (ESPN), Jan. 27 vs. Kentucky (ESPN) and Feb. 7 at Vanderbilt (CBS). Ole Miss followed up a school-record 22 TV appearances in 2006-07 with 20 more last year.
WARREN PARTICIPATES IN ALL-STAR PG CAMP
Following his outstanding freshman season at Ole Miss, Chris Warren was one of 11 of the nation's top college point guards invited to participate in Nike's Steve Nash Skills Academy in Newark, N.J., over the summer.
Each of Nike's Skills Academies features elite high school and college players at their position. The athletes have the opportunity to receive personal instruction from the NBA athlete along with a first class group coaches from all levels.
Joining Warren at the camp was Davidson's Stephen Curry, South Carolina's Devan Downey, Connecticut's Jerome Dyson, Pittsburgh's Levance Fields, Baylor's Curtis Jerrells, Florida's Jai Lucas, VCU's Eric Maynor, Miami's Jack McClinton, Duke's Greg Paulus and Boston College's Tyrese Rice.
KENNEDY'S CONTRACT EXTENDED THROUGH 2012
Ole Miss extended the contract of men's basketball head coach Andy Kennedy through June 30, 2012, approved on May 22 by the State College Board.
In his two years with the Rebels, Kennedy has turned around the program and directed the team to back-to-back postseason berths, including the 2008 NIT Final Four at New York City's Madison Square Garden. He earned 2007 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Rebels to an SEC Western Division championship.
Kennedy has guided the team to consecutive 20-win campaigns for a total of 45 victories, which is a school record for an Ole Miss coach in his first two seasons. He is just the fourth coach in SEC men's hoops history to pile up 45 or more wins in two years, joining Eddie Sutton (Kentucky), Tubby Smith (Georgia and Kentucky) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee). Kennedy already boasts two of the nine 20-win seasons in program history, and his Rebels eclipsed more than 25 school statistical records this past season.
OLE MISS AND COACHES VS. CANCER
To help combat cancer, the Ole Miss men's basketball team has again teamed up with Coaches vs. Cancer. The aim is to not only raise awareness but also to generate funding to fight cancer. Rebel men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy said his team is committed to the effort, and he encouraged fans to contribute.
"Fans pledge to donate a certain amount of money for every three-point basket we make throughout the season," Kennedy said. "It's a worthwhile cause."
To make a pledge, fans are asked to pick up a 3-point card at any men's home game at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The program was established by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society in 1993.
Ole Miss hosts South Alabama tonight
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