Jonesboro Journey

Ole Miss will face a tough road test at Arkansas State Wednesday night. The last time the Rebels visited ASU for a men's basketball game, they lost 70-68 on Dec. 1, 2004.

Both head coaches are different now, and each has valuable experience as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference.

Andy Kennedy is now in his fourth season as head coach of the Rebels. John Brady is in his second at ASU after a decade as head coach at LSU. Brady brought his first Red Wolves team to Oxford last year for the season opener and fell 65-52.

Arkansas State is 3-2 on the season. The Red Wolves wrap up a three-game home stand as the Rebels are in town for a 7 p.m. tipoff today.

ASU has two players averaging in double-digit scoring. Sophomore guard Daniel Bryant leads the team, averaging 16.4 points per game followed by freshman guard Brandon Reed who is averaging 13.4 ppg. Bryant ranks sixth in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring average while Reed ranks 20th. Last season, ASU had one player averaging in double-figures.

Bryant has provided a spark off the bench for the Red Wolves. He had a pair of career games last week when he broke the 20-point barrier for the first time against Tennessee-Martin and set a new career high of 23 points against Indiana State the next game.

At 6-2, freshman guard Trey Finn is leading the team in rebounding average, pulling down 7.0 per contest. Finn's average ranks fifth in the conference.

ASU has gotten lots of production from its reserves this season. In addition to leading-scorer Bryant, freshman Brandon Peterson also leads the team in blocked shots (14) and ranks second in rebounding while scoring 8.2 ppg.

ASU's bench has scored in double-digits each game, highlighted by 62 and 33 point performances against MacMurray and Indiana State respectively.

As a team ASU has averaged 5.4 blocks per game. Petreson ranks second in the league with 14 blocks through five games, with five against MacMurray. Peterson has had multiple blocks all but one game, including four against UT-Martin.

The Red Wolves have continued their reputation of strong defense, holding their first five opponents to shooting just 41 percent from the field (116-280) and shooting only 24 percent from three-point range (14-58), best in the conference.

ASU has also forced opponents into 76 turnovers and recorded 38 steals. Against Southeast Missouri State, ASU held the Redhawks to 14 percent from the three-point line and allowed only one of the opponents' players to score in double-figures (10). Against Tennessee-Martin, the Red Wolves held the Skyhawks to only 8.3 percent from the three-point line (1-12).

Ole Miss (5-1) continues to receive votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for the fourth straight week.

Defensively, the Rebels are playing well. Ole Miss leads all SEC teams with 9.8 steals per game and ranks second with a +5.0 turnover margin. The defensive intensity has also forced teams into poor shooting, as the Rebs have limited opponents to a 39.4 percent field-goal percentage, fifth-best among SEC teams.

The Rebels were expecting to have stellar guard play and have to date. Chris Warren leads the team with 17.8 points per game (4th in SEC), and Terrico White is right on his heels with 16.6 ppg (5th in SEC).

The Rebels are a better shot-blocking team this time around. The intimidating presence of freshman Reginald Buckner, who leads the team and ranks third in the SEC with 2.8 blocks per game, has helped the Rebs average 7.3 swats per contest. The 12 blocks against Indiana in San Juan, an 89-71 UM victory, were one shy of a school record.

Ole Miss returns home to host Southern Mississippi at noon Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum.

(UM and ASU athletics media relations contributed to this story.)

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