And if rust was a factor, Ole Miss (5-1) refused to show it early. Following two wins over quality opponents in San Juan, the Rebels jumped ahead quickly on an undermanned Islanders squad, before running away to a 73-58 victory.
"We came out great," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "You're always concerned when you play in an atmosphere such as this. We were coming off playing the No. 4 team in the country. Our approach initially was fantastic. But when we got ahead, we kind of put it in cruise control. That's something we've got to improve on as a team."
Aided by productive shooting from the 3-point line (6-of-17) and a 17-2 run in the early stages of the first half, Ole Miss moved out in front 19-4. But the lopsided opening frame didn't end there. The Rebels continued to distance themselves from their opponents, outscoring Corpus Christi (4-3) to the tune of 21-19 until intermission.
With the horn sounding for halftime, Ole Miss led 40-23. Selected to the all-tournament team in Puerto Rico, junior point guard Chris Warren paced the Rebels with 12 points in the period. He also went on to tie all scorers in points with 19 points along with two rebounds and two assists for the game.
The outcome was never in doubt in the second half, but play was sluggish. There were four turnovers on Ole Miss' end, while Corpus Christi shot 52 percent. Though the Islanders got no closer than 11 points, Ole Miss was less effective from long distance, a 14 percent clip on 2-of-14 shooting (8-of-31 for the game).
But thanks to preseason All-SEC first teamer Terrico White, who knocked down another three plus the penalty to open the period, the Rebels had plenty left in the tank to finish this one out. The four-point play by White gave Ole Miss a 44-23 advantage and it was cruise control the rest of the way. The Rebels stretched their lead to 54-30 on another basket by White, before grinding out the final.
White logged 13 points in the half, and was 6-of-15 from the field for the game. He finished with 19 points – tied with Warren for the team lead.
"We were being passive on offense and turning the ball over," White said of the second half. "We got comfortable with the lead."
From the floor, Ole Miss shot 42.9 percent for the game compared to 40.4 percent for Corpus Christi. The Rebels also held the advantage on the boards, 38-36 in the win. Ole Miss was 64.7 percent (11-17) from the free throw line. The Rebels had only six turnovers in the game.
Freshman Reginald Buckner drew his first start of the season in Murphy Holloway's absence, contributing eight points, three rebounds and one block. Buckner now has 17 blocked shots in his first six collegiate outings.
In 22 minutes, sophomore Terrance Henry notched 12 points and four rebounds. He was perfect from the field, 5-of-5 and 2-2 from 3-point range.
"He was the bright spot for us," said Kennedy of Henry. "He was very, very active."
The Islanders were led by guard Kevin Palmer's 23 points and seven rebounds. Terence Jones and Justin Reynolds followed with nine points apiece.
* Holloway missed the contest after turning his ankle in practice Friday. Kennedy said he doesn't anticipate Holloway missing much time, and believes he'll return to the fold Wednesday at Arkansas State.
* Though totaling seven points in the win, junior Eniel Polynice missed much of the second half with what Kennedy deemed a lingering back injury.
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