Puerto Rico Bound

Terrico White knocked down the game's first points, a 3-pointer, and the rout was on. Eighty-seven points later, Ole Miss had taken its second consecutive blowout victory at home, this time a 90-53 final over Alabama State Monday.

White, a preseason SEC first teamer, led all scorers in points with 19 to go along with four rebounds. Junior guard Eniel Polynice followed, adding 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

"Alabama State is a tough team. They played in the NCAA Tournament last year, which is obviously where we're trying to get to," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I knew they would be very tough. I thought we were a little lethargic early in the game. We were turning the ball over too much."

But in reality, a matchup with the Hornets merely ran the course of a glorified scrimmage in preparation for a trip to Puerto Rico.

Ole Miss is set to head to San Juan for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off Thursday, the first contest with traditional powerhouse Indiana at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. The remaining field includes Boston University, Dayton, George Mason, Georgia Tech, Kansas State and Villanova.

"The field's going to be powerful," said Kennedy of the nationally televised tournament. "This gives us an opportunity to see where we are. We have three very strong games in four days. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Though a lopsided final, the Rebels were challenged in the game's early stages. Ole Miss led 10-6 with 15:13 to go in the first half, but a substantial talent differential made this one easy work.

Ole Miss led 43-24 at halftime, paced by 12 points from junior guard Chris Warren on 5-of-9 shooting. Warren was 0-for-3 in the second half for no more points in the game.

White and Polynice chipped in seven and eight points respectively before intermission, as the team connected on 48.5 percent of its shots. Conversely, Alabama State had netted just 25.8 percent from the field at the break.

In the first half, the Hornets were limited to only eight baskets, and 0-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc.

"Our offense is going to pick up as the season goes, but if you have intensity on defense, that's always going to help you out," junior Zach Graham, who contributed 11 points and three rebounds in 20 minutes, said of the defensive performance. "We work hard on our defense in practice, and it's showing in games."

The second half was more of the same. While the Rebels didn't score first, points came in bunches. On 50 percent shooting from the field in the second half (18-of-36), Ole Miss ran away from the Hornets, with 47 points compared to 29 for Alabama State in the period.

At the 10:18 mark, the Rebels held a commanding 64-41 advantage. The lead continued to swell throughout, as JUCO transfer DeAngelo Riley was good for a layup and an 88-49 lead late in the game.

From there, only the final score remained. With thoughts of a trip to Puerto Rico looming, the Rebels finished off their second win of the season in dominating fashion.

"We're ready. Our team is hungry," Graham said of the trip to San Juan. "We're happy to have everybody back healthy and we're ready to make statements. We want to prove we can compete with the best."

Defensively, the Rebels caused 22 turnovers and limited their opponent to 28.6 percent shooting for the game (18-of-63).

Ole Miss made 16-of-25 free throws, while turning the ball over 14 times. Sophomore forward Murphy Holloway paced the team in rebounds, grabbing nine in the win. Holloway also added seven points.

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