But in Ole Miss' first true road test of the young season, a superior Rebel squad shined. Led by a game-high 19 points from sophomore guard Terrico White, Ole Miss jumped ahead quickly and continued to pour on the points, en route to a decisive 79-57 victory.
"I thought we played well," said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy of the effort. "We set the tone defensively. We really wanted to pressure them. A lot of it was Zach (Graham). He really played well. I thought our front line rallied to the cause. This team is still relatively young. We're trying to live in the moment. I thought it was a good team effort tonight."
Though Ole Miss (6-1) was sluggish at the start, a 5-4 deficit early in the first half, the Rebels used a 12-0 run to pull ahead by a wide margin. At 16-5, Ole Miss was clearly in control and running away. A 3-point make by ASU's Brandon Reed ended the stretch. But with another run, this time of the 17-6 variety, the Rebels led 35-11. It was smooth sailing the rest of the way.
Ole Miss stretched its lead to 40-21 on a two-point basket by sophomore forward Terrance Henry, who contributed six points in the period. Henry also dialed long distance before the horn sounded for intermission, as the Rebels led 43-24.
Junior Zach Graham, starting in place of Eniel Polynice, paced the team in the frame with 11 points. Graham was 2-of-3 from the three-point line and 3-of-5 from the floor. Ole Miss shot 44 percent in the first half (16-of-36).
Polynice returned to the fold in the second half after sitting out with a slight back injury in the first half. The junior contributed game totals of two points and two rebounds in only nine minutes of action.
"He was very good offensively," Kennedy said of Graham, who finished the night with 17 points and four assists in 33 minutes. "He seemed to be playing in a good rhythm. Zach's a good shooter and he can do a lot of good things for us because of his size. He played within himself defensively and really helped us on both ends."
To begin the second half, White kept the blowout intact. He accounted for Ole Miss' first seven points of the period, while Graham again chipped in with another three to put the Rebels out in front 53-26 with 14:28 remaining in the game.
From there, Ole Miss coasted. A layup plus the free throw by junior point guard Chris Warren pushed the advantage to 67-41, and it was all but over. The Rebels grabbed their sixth win of the year with relative ease, punctuated by an alley-oop from Graham to White for a 77-51 lead as fans exited the coliseum with just under three minutes to play.
"I compliment Andy's team. That's a really good team we just played," ASU head coach John Brady said after his team fell to 3-3. "They do a lot of things real easy. To stop that kind of team, you've got to match them athletically or be extremely patient offensively. We couldn't do that tonight. We left too many points on the table. That's a good SEC team. You win championships with good guard play, and they've certainly got that."
For the game, Ole Miss was 46.7 percent from the field on 28-of-60 shooting. The Rebels also shot well from beyond the arc, a 43 percent clip on 9-of-21 made baskets.
Murphy Holloway finished one point shy of a double-double, with nine points and 13 rebounds in the win. Warren added 13 points, along with three rebounds and two assists. Ole Miss held the advantage on the boards with 45, compared to 30 for Arkansas State. Rashad Allison's nine points led the Red Wolves.
The Rebels return to the court Saturday, as they play host to Southern Miss at noon.
Ole Miss is offering several special deals for this Saturday's "Showdown in O-Town" game between the Rebels and the Golden Eagles.
All Ole Miss students will receive free admission for Saturday's game by showing a valid student ID. Any remaining tickets for the game are being sold for $5. All parking lots surrounding the coliseum will be open to fans, free of charge.
In addition, the first 200 Ole Miss students in attendance will receive free T-shirts, while students will also have a chance to win one of 25 season ticket packages that will be given away during the game.
Larry Eustachy's Southern Miss team is 5-0. The two in-state foes have not played in Oxford since 1995.
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