Exhibiting Success

Ole Miss proved making baskets can be contagious in Friday night's 102-62 exhibition win against Auburn-Montgomery.

The Rebels trailed 38-35 at halftime and had gone 1-of-12 from 3-point range. In the second half they turned that around, going 10-of-14 from beyond the arc.

"It was just a matter of us turning up the intensity," said junior guard Chris Warren, who led the Rebels with 22 points - half of his eight made baskets in the contest of the 3-point variety. "They outworked us the first half, so our main focus was to come back and outwork them."

Mission accomplished.

The first half shooting percentage for the Rebels was 36 percent. In the second half that was markedly better at 68 percent.

"We've struggled shooting," fourth-year head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Honestly we didn't do a lot of things offensively. We didn't want to show a lot. We just wanted to kind of play and space and play the game of basketball like it's supposed to be played."

That was the case in the second half.

"We're obviously trying to find our way a little bit, as every team is this time of year," Kennedy said. "It wasn't surprising. I'm trying to play nine or ten guys in the first half which is unrealistic. And it's hard to get rhythm."

But once they got it, this one was over.

"When you have kids that have not played in a while, they sometimes base their performance on making shots. And when you're not making shots, it tends to carry over into other aspects of your game," Kennedy said. "That's something we addressed at the half. Our intensity was much better defensively early in the second half. We got into a little better rhythm."

Warren ignited the team first with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 38-38. Over the first six minutes of the second half, the Rebels made seven baskets from 3-point range. By then they led 60-46 and were running away from the visiting Senators.

The Rebels' inside game has been the biggest question mark for the team, the backcourt being loaded with experience. Kennedy said the play of the bigs was acceptable for an exhibition contest.

"In these games it's hard to gauge, because when you play teams at the NAIA level, obviously they're not going to have as much size," he said. "Offensively we were just trying to spread and play. We weren't throwing it close much. We had 19 turnovers and were just being sloppy with the ball. A lot of that is when you play as many guys as we did. I didn't think any one guy was at fault. It was just a number of bad decisions."

Newcomers Reginald Buckner and DeAngelo Riley got into the mix. Buckner came in early, played 18 minutes in the game, and had four points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Riley didn't enter until the second half, played 10 minutes, scored three points all from the free throw line, and grabbed a rebound.

After Warren's 22 points, three players were also in double figures – Terrico White with 16, Trevor Gaskins with 16, and Eniel Polynice with 15.

Murphy Holloway, Polynice, and Buckner each had seven boards to lead the Rebel rebounding effort. As a team, Ole Miss had the heavy end of that statistic 53-27.

The Senators were led by Nathan Thomas and Charles Perona with 15 points apiece.

The Rebels open the regular season next Friday at 6 p.m., hosting Arkansas-Little Rock.

Kennedy said for his team, the exhibition game fulfilled its mission.

"This was good," he said. "I thought it was exactly what we needed from a number of aspects."


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