Hornet Invasion

Alabama State gave Ole Miss fits last season before succumbing 85-81 at Tad Smith Coliseum. The Hornets open a new season Monday at 7 p.m. in Oxford.

But it's quite a different ASU team that arrives from Montgomery, Ala., to meet the Rebels, who are 1-0 after a 92-64 win against Arkansas-Little Rock in their season opener Friday night.

Gone are all five starters from last year's Hornets team. Only seven lettermen return.

ASU is coming off a 22-10 season and NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago, winning the SWAC with a 19-2 league record. It was the second straight conference title for the Hornets.

Coach Lewis Jackson's team earned a 98-83 exhibition win over Talladega College last week, led by Tramayne Moorer's 20 points and six rebounds and Sekani Milligen with 19 points.

There will obviously be some unknowns when Alabama State takes the court. Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said his Rebels need to be ready to play, just like they were against the Trojans in the opener.

"I thought we guarded pretty well," he said. "Our ball pressure obviously really bothered them. As a result, other than a few breakdowns at the end of the game, I was really pleased with how we defended.

"We didn't rebound the ball from the perimeter like we should. One of the strengths of our team is that we do have size on our wing. We didn't rebound the ball as an indication of how big we are and athletic we are at the two and three spot. But overall I was pleased."

Lone senior DeAundre Cranston led Ole Miss against UALR with 21 points. Sophomore Murphy Holloway had 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Kennedy said the two new inside players - junior DeAngelo Riley and freshman Reginald Buckner - made their presence known Friday night.

"DeAngelo gave us some really good minutes," he said. "D-Lo had an opportunity to come in and do some good things. He's a skilled guy. He got on the glass for us a little bit. He had three assists, and that is out of a guy that plays interior for you. That's a good indication.

"Reg offensively you could tell he was making good strong moves but just wasn't finishing. He was a little anxious defensively. Four blocks in 14 minutes gives us a presence there that we just have not had."

The Rebels are 6-0 all-time against the Hornets with an average margin of victory of 18.3 points. Ole Miss has won all five games played in Oxford and the lone contest played in Montgomery.

In last year's contest, David Huertas led four Rebels in double figures with 25 points. Chris Warren had 16 points and Holloway added 15 in the UM win.

Ole Miss enters Monday's contest with a perfect 29-0 record against teams that currently comprise the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Rebels have faced every SWAC school except Texas Southern, while having played Prairie View A&M and Alabama State the most times at six each.

Ole Miss is currently receiving votes in both the AP writers' poll and ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. The last time the Rebels were ranked in the Top 25 in one of those two polls was Jan. 28, 2008, when they were No. 24 and 22, respectively.

Following Monday night's game against Alabama State, the Rebels travel to Puerto Rico for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Tipoff. Their first game is at 4 p.m. Thursday against the Indiana Hoosiers on ESPN2.

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