Successful Start

Ole Miss was looking for a few inside guys to step up. So senior DeAundre Cranston and sophomore Murphy Holloway answered the call as the Rebels beat Arkansas-Little Rock 92-64 Friday night.

"This was a statement," said Holloway, who ended the contest with 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. "(Assistant) Coach (Owen) Miller said nobody thinks we have a frontcourt. So we had to go out and show them we're not just all about our backcourt."

Cranston led the team in scoring with 21 points and also was second on the team behind Holloway in the rebounding department with seven boards.

"We have the pieces down low. It's just up to us to do what we have to do to help our team," said Cranston, who was 8-of-9 from the field including 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

A Cranston 3-pointer with 11:11 to go in the opening half gave the Rebels a 26-8 lead. Good ball movement offensively and relentless defensive pressure kept the Rebels well out in front. Ole Miss led 44-30 at halftime with Cranston pacing the team in scoring at the break with 13.

The Rebels expanded their lead to 70-41 midway through the second half on a 3-pointer by junior guard Chris Warren. All that was in doubt from that point on was the margin of victory for the Rebels.

Cranston's 21 points were far and away his highest output as a Rebel. In his first season out of junior college last year, he scored nine points on three occasions.

"He made some shots, but he's been shooting it for us pretty well," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said of the Rebels' lone senior. "We can trust him. He's got some deficiencies, but he's typically going to be where he's supposed to be."

Kennedy said Cranston is an improved player.

"One of the things he can do that we saw last year and that he's really worked on is we like to ball screen and if we can get some separation from him, it gives him an opportunity to knock down some shots," he said. "He did that early, and when we got a little lethargic in the second half, I thought he stepped up again."

Sophomore guard Terrico White was the only other Rebel in double figures with 16.

Ole Miss shot 48 percent (35-72) for the game, including 32 percent from 3-point range (9-28). The Rebels were 13-21 from the free throw line (62 percent).

The Trojans shot 42 percent (21-50), including 4-9 from 3-point range (44 percent). They were 18-31 from the free throw line for 58 percent.

"Overall I was pleased," Kennedy said. "I thought we moved the ball well; anytime you have 19 assists off 35 field goals, and we only turned it over five times. Our ball-handling was much improved."

But there were some concerns as well, albeit correctable.

"We fouled way too much with 23 fouls," Kennedy said, pointing out one of the concerns. "We give teams too many opportunities to stay in games off the free throw line."

Nine Rebels had double-digit minutes. Newcomers DeAngelo Riley, a junior, and freshman Reginald Buckner were two of those. Riley scored five points with three rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a blocked shot in 10 minutes. Buckner went scoreless with four rebounds and four blocks in 14 minutes.

Sophomore forward Terrance Henry was not available for the opener. He fell down some steps and skinned his hand earlier. According to Kennedy, he won't be available for Monday night's game vs. Alabama State either but is expected to be ready for the trip to Puerto Rico and the game next Thursday against Indiana.

An announced 5,870 watched the action. Ole Miss hosts Alabama State at 7 p.m. Monday.


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