Three Wins In A Row

At some level they just seem to be getting it. A 19-point win over Auburn is the latest proof.

This young and inexperienced team of Ole Miss Rebels, becoming older and more experienced every day, handled its latest foe like it did Kentucky and Mississippi State.

That would be like a veteran team, not a team that just a couple of weeks ago appeared lost.

They head to Vanderbilt now, a place that's never easy on a visiting team. The nation will watch. It's a CBS 12 noon tipoff Saturday.

But that can wait. For now, they'll reflect a bit on their third win in a row, how they got here, and what it means to be 13-9 overall and 4-4 in Southeastern Conference play.

Then again, maybe they'll just do what they've done lately. Not really think about it at all and just go out and play basketball.

Certainly how they've gotten to this point isn't quite that simple. The way they are playing lately just seems like it.

"We're starting to play our best basketball," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said.

That should potentially be a scary thought for the rest of the conference, a league that appears to be as wide open as any year in a while.

"I thought Ole Miss played well, especially in the first half," Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo said. "They had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half, and that's enough for the whole game. Give Ole Miss credit. I thought they played well."

Certainly much better against Lebo's team this year than last.

Wednesday night against Auburn, a team that beat Ole Miss both times last season, the Rebels were challenged but never rattled. The Rebs jumped out early 4-0 but fell behind 9-4. Kennedy called a timeout and things got back on track. Zach Graham's 3-pointer put them up 14-11, and they never trailed again.

The lead was 11 points at 25-14 when David Huertas scored on a 3-pointer halfway through the first half. A Kevin Cantinol tipin gave Ole Miss its largest lead so far at 19 points (46-27) not long before intermission.

Murphy Holloway fouled on Auburn's last possession with less than two seconds to go in the half. Korvotney Barber made a free throw and missed one, and the UM lead was 46-28 at halftime.

Auburn made an early run in the second half and outscored Ole Miss 10-5, cutting the Rebel lead down to 51-38 and with the basketball in control of the visitors. But a good offensive board possession after a steal by Murphy Holloway seemed to reverse things back in the Rebels' favor a bit.

It was Holloway who finished what he started on that possession. He missed a couple of shots underneath, got his own rebound both times, and on the third effort put it in the basket.

After an Auburn missed 3-pointer on its following trip downcourt, Will Bogan got the ball to Graham who hit a trey for a 56-38 UM lead with 12:13 left. The crowd was back into it, the Rebels seemed confident again, and the Tigers lost some push.

The Rebels moved out to a 21-point lead on a couple of occasions after that, and Auburn only got to within 16 the rest of the way. The largest Ole Miss lead was 22 points at 78-56 with 1:21 to go on a layup by Huertas.

The Rebs had five in double figures, led by Terrico White with 19 points. Huertas had 16, Graham 11, Malcolm White 10, and Terrence Henry a career-high 10.

Auburn was paced by Barber's 17.

Terrico White had a career-high eight rebounds, a team-high on this night, as Ole Miss won the battle of the boards 42-36, including 26-20 on the defensive end.

"Terrico White is a terrific player," Lebo said after his team fell to 13-9 overall but 2-5 in league play. "He has so much size and athleticism. They might have found a position for him to play by accident."

Lebo, of course, was referring to the season-ending injury to starting point guard Chris Warren back in December.

Without Warren, Eniel Polynice, and Trevor Gaskins, the prevailing thought might have been that this team was done for.

The last three games have clearly proven that isn't the case.


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