1,000 In A Hurry

Ole Miss won its last non-conference game of the basketball season, and in the process Chris Warren joined the 1,000 point club.

The Orlando, Fla., native sank two free throws with 12:44 to go in the second half against a team from his hometown as the Rebels beat Central Florida 84-56.

Those two made shots put him in an elite club of Rebels. He ended the game with 14 points and his career total now stands at 1,006.

The last Rebel to join had been point guard Todd Abernethy, who scored 1,036 points in 122 games from 2004-07.

"Until earlier today, I didn't know I was that close to getting 1,000 points," said Warren, who becomes the 31st player in Rebel history to reach the milestone. "Then at the timeout, I saw the jumbo screen, and there it was."

The 21-year-old Warren reached the mark in only 60 games as a Rebel. He played in 35 games as a freshman and only 11 last season before being injured. Entering the game Tuesday night, the Rebels' 14th contest this season, Warren was the team's leading scorer on the year with 17.1 points per outing.

Warren said he didn't necessarily come to college to light up the scoreboard as he's done. He'd averaged 24 points a game as a senior for Dr. Phillips High School.

"I didn't really come into college (thinking) like that," he said. "I just came in here to try to make plays and be the best player I can be."

Warren's dad, Charles, was in town to witness his son reaching 1,000 points.

"They seem to think I don't play a good game when my family's in town," Warren said. "But I feel I play regular. Maybe I don't shoot it as well. I just try to play good every game."

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said Warren has become a remarkable player for his program.

"There's one thing you can count on every day at Ole Miss basketball, and that's (Warren) is going to give you an honest days work," he said. "I never really have to worry about his focus. Tonight I thought he was focused."

Kennedy had more glowing comments for his junior point guard, who fought back from reconstructive knee surgery last season to become the Rebels' leader again.

"I'm really proud of the kid," Kennedy said. "There are a lot of words in society that are used way too often, and special being one of them. But he truly is a special player."

The 14th-ranked Rebels (12-2) put this one away early, leading 19-4 only five minutes in.

Certainly there was enough time for UCF (8-6) to get back into it, but it never happened. Ole Miss led 46-24 at halftime.

"I thought we came out with great energy," Kennedy said.

He said much of that fast start could be attributed to Eniel Polynice.

"When he drives with a purpose, we're a very difficult team to guard," Kennedy said.

Polynice had 12 first-half points and 16 for the contest.

"I just wanted to set the tempo from the beginning of the game," said Polynice, also a native Floridian.

"I was hoping we would stay focused," Kennedy said of the second half.

For the most part they did as the Golden Knights never got closer than 18 points in the second half, and the Rebels led by as much as the final margin of 28 points on four occasions late.

Terrico White led Ole Miss in scoring with 21. Murphy Holloway had 11 to round out four Rebs in double figures.

"We're struggling shooting a little bit, but you have to give credit to Missisippi tonight," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "They were aggressive early in the game, and got us back on our heels and uncomfortable. They came out of the box and shot lights out."

For the Golden Knights, A.J. Rompza had 16 points, while Marcus Jordan, son of NBA legend Michael Jordan, had 13.

The Rebels host Mississippi State Saturday at 12:30 p.m. to open Southeastern Conference play.

Kennedy said he felt his team was focused for this one and not looking ahead to MSU.

"We're trying to live right here in the moment," he said. "We needed to be 12-2. Central Florida is a good basketball team. Coming into the game they had some quality wins, and so that's where our focus was.

"Now," he concluded, "it will shift completely."


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