Advantage: Warren

Fair or not, Ole Miss junior point guard Chris Warren will often draw comparisons to South Carolina's Devan Downey. Read about it inside.

To some, size matters. But not to Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy.

In two coaching stops, first as an interim head coach at Cincinnati and now as a full-timer at Ole Miss, Kennedy has featured quick, if not smallish, point guards.

Before transferring to South Carolina, it was Devan Downey who flourished under Kennedy. In Oxford, it's been junior Chris Warren.

"Chris is so different than Devan," said Kennedy when comparing the guards Monday. "Devan is Dexter McCluster on a basketball court. He can go from A to B and really change his pace like a rabbit. Chris isn't like that. Chris is more straightforward speed. When he can get straightforward speed, he's difficult. He's not at his best at changing directions."

In a 66-57 Ole Miss win Wednesday, Warren was the better of the pair.

Yes, Downey scored a game-high 25 points compared to 17 for Warren. However, seven of those were in the game's final minute when the outcome was already decided. His numbers were also inflated by a substantial deficit.

Down by as much as 16 points in the game, the All-SEC performer had to put the team on his shoulders.

"Not very successful was it?" Kennedy answered after the game of his team's defense against Downey.

It wasn't too bad, coach.

With his team trailing 38-23 at halftime, Downey became active in the second period and hit those unthinkable, although expected, shots. That's what he does.

He scored 16 points after intermission, though his increase in intensity would soon be for naught. In the end, South Carolina fell short.

Only one other Gamecock topped double digits in the loss. Downey attempted eight more shots than the next-closest teammate in Sam Muldrow.

"We talked about it at halftime, and we knew that in order for them to win the game, he was going to have to take over the game," Kennedy said.

It's not like high point totals are anything new for Downey.

In three previous conference games, two wins, he contributed 33, 29 and 35 points respectively. He's easily the SEC's leading scorer but, as shown again Wednesday, the only consistent offensive threat for South Carolina.

"He's playing at a whole other level," Kennedy said of his former player. "He's playing with incredible confidence. Obviously, they've had some personnel issues. As a result, he's taken ownership. You have to team defend him. You have to contain him. They play very frenetic defensively, which gets him in the open floor, where he's very difficult to stop."

On the other end, Warren finished a methodical 5-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 in 3-point tries. In fairness, he committed four turnovers, but also added four assists.

And since we're playing the comparison game, both guards logged at least 34 minutes. Heck, Downey committed four turnovers of his own, and was only able to muster one more assist than his counterpart.

"We talked about (Downey) for two or three days," said sophomore Murphy Holloway, who burst out of a mini-slump with 14 points and 12 rebounds. "He's real good. You get scared every time he touches the ball. He's fearless. He's small, but he's got the heart of a lion. He's improved his game a lot, as far as shooting. He's always been able to go to the rim and finish."

"Downey is a great player," Warren added. "He came out and played his game. I don't know how much he had, but hopefully he didn't have 30. We came out and did our job."

Y'all did the job just fine, sir.

In this one, advantage Warren.

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