A backcourt filled with talented and veteran players will lead Ole Miss into basketball battle tonight as the Rebels hope a less experienced but also talented frontcourt steps forward.
With knees healed and expectations high, Ole Miss tips off its lone exhibition game at 6 p.m. today against Auburn-Montgomery at Tad Smith Coliseum.
"We're going to use this game to try to get better," said sophomore guard Terrico White, who gained college experience as both an off guard and point guard during a freshman season when he played a lot of minutes and won SEC Freshman of the Year honors. "Everybody will play, so Coach will be able to see what we can really do."
Coach, as in Andy Kennedy, said the Rebels will treat this action as a real-time game.
"It will help us, most especially the new guys, to put the uniform on, to run out and have some people in the stands and go through all that," the fourth-year UM head coach said.
The Rebels hosted Tulane last weekend for a lengthy but closed scrimmage session. Tonight's contest, however, is different.
"We didn't do any preparation for Tulane," Kennedy said. "We just said you guard you and you guard you. (This week) we started the whole process of scouting and preparation and accountability as far as not only knowing what we do but now it's at that point where you have to know what your opponent is doing as well."
The Senators of Auburn-Montgomery have traditionally excelled as one of the top teams in the NAIA division and are 1-1 this season with a win over Blue Mountain College and a loss to Freed-Hardeman University.
White said the Rebels hope to kick up their offense a notch in this one.
"We were very intense on defense (vs. Tulane), like staying in the passing lanes and all that stuff," said White, who averaged 18.4 points per game in Southeastern Conference play last season. "Our offense wasn't really that good. We were missing some open shots and free throws and all. We didn't have trouble running the offense. We just weren't making shots."
The Rebels return five starters, including veteran guards Chris Warren and Eniel Polynice, who missed most of last season with knee injuries. White and Warren were picked preseason All-SEC by the media and the league coaches this year.
Warren sprained an ankle against the Green Wave but was walking fine early in the week and is expected to be ready to go tonight.
Ole Miss was 16-15 overall with a 7-9 league record last season, despite the above mentioned injuries along with knee injuries to guards Trevor Gaskins and Zach Graham.
White said the Tulane scrimmage reminded him of some things he needs to improve upon.
"I want to keep improving my defense. And I want to get better at making open shots," the Memphian said. "And I've got to make my free throws."
Tonight gives him and all his teammates the chance to get better and more prepared for the season opener in a week against UALR also in Oxford.
Admission to tonight's exhibition game is free.
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