Better Bogan

Freshman point guard Will Bogan finally had his coming out party Wednesday, scoring 16 points to go along with seven assists, in the Rebels' overtime win over Arkansas. Read about it inside.

His season numbers might not be glowing, especially compared to fellow freshman Terrico White, but guard Will Bogan has certainly come into his own over the last few weeks.

While few players stood out in Ole Miss' 21-point blowout loss to Alabama Saturday, Bogan quietly scored eight points on 3-for-3 shooting from the field.

To some, those statistics might seem minimal compared to the contributions of other Rebel newcomers. But to Bogan, they only helped build his confidence.

"I think (the Alabama game) helped. I carried it over into Arkansas," said Bogan. "Even though that game wasn't the best for us, it did help.

"I've been in a little bit of a shooting drought, so I was staying after practice and getting some extra shots up. I've been working hard to get my shot back right and getting my confidence back."

Against Arkansas, the Idahoan shined. With only seven players seeing action, Bogan was forced to raise his level of play and led an embattled Ole Miss squad to an important win on the road.

He responded, however, pouring in 16 points to go along with seven assists, to bury the Razorbacks in overtime. His scoring numbers were obviously a career-high, as he entered Wednesday's matchup having failed to score in double-digits at any point this season.

"He was really incredible with the confidence he played with," said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. "I tell you what's so crazy about our game. In basketball, if you make a shot early, it's just amazing what that does to your confidence.

"We come into the game and had him off the ball. He missed an open three but, from that point on, he just played with confidence. He got into a great rhythm."

As with most freshmen, year one at the collegiate level is usually an adjustment period.

Of course, there are always those players who arrive and make an immediate contribution. But most are used sparingly, with Will initially asked to be no different.

Once injuries began to take their toll early in the season, Bogan was called upon for heavy minutes in a limited rotation. He struggled early, appearing uncomfortable at times when trying to effectively run Kennedy's up-tempo styled offense.

Now with a breakout game under his belt, he can focus solely on an encore performance.

"Last night was a very big game for me, but for the team too," Bogan said. "It's kind of come down to a two-game season for us now. That's how we were looking at it. It was a tight game and I just stepped up and made some big plays happen."

Confidence is a word often used by the 2009 Ole Miss basketball team.

Few can doubt the youngsters' talents, but emotions have run high considering the adversity this squad has faced throughout the year.

Yet, the Rebels have responded positively, despite some difficult setbacks along the way. No game better exemplifies that point than Arkansas, as the team had just suffered consecutive blowout losses a week before.

"A lot of us knew with David (Huertas) not playing, we had to step it up and each contribute a little bit more," Bogan said. "I don't know if I really felt (a 16-point game) coming, but you always hope that game comes. It helped that I knocked a couple of shots down in the first half. That got me going and helped get my confidence up."

Ole Miss will now turn its attention toward Mississippi State, as the Bullies roll into Oxford Saturday.

Unlike most meetings between the instate rivals, however, this game will lack the usual blood-boiling sentiments fans have grown to expect.

It won't be because the teams don't dislike each other, but these young guns simply view each game as a new opportunity.

Maybe they're naïve to a fault.

"I think our confidence now is as high as it's ever been – especially considering the fact we were able to pull off that win on the road at Arkansas without the original three injuries and now David. I think that helped us as far as confidence goes," Bogan said.

He should know.


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