Looking For Another Road 'W'

Winning road games in Southeastern Conference basketball is never easy. Ole Miss has a chance to claim its third before the calendar turns to February.

The 18th-ranked Rebels play at 8 p.m. today at Auburn. Ole Miss (15-4 overall, 3-2 SEC) has away wins at Georgia and LSU already this month.

Sophomore guard Terrance Henry said the Rebels have been intent on winning road games this season. It's why they huddled and yelled "Road Win!" in the tunnel last Saturday prior to taking the court at LSU.

"I think it's just been our focus," said Henry, who had a career-high 14 points with his first start of the season last Saturday in the 73-63 UM win at LSU. "Going into a game, we get together as a team and focus on what we have to do. That makes us better defensively as well as the whole game."

Henry said Auburn (10-10, 1-4) poses problems for the Rebels.

"They play a lot of guards, and like we do they shoot a lot of 3s," Henry said. "We have to play good defense on them and get out on their shooters. They can shoot the 3, so we have to get our hands up and contest that."

The Tigers' only SEC win so far was also at LSU, an 84-80 victory. But they've been competitive in every game. In each of their four league losses, the Tigers led the contest or trailed by less than five points during the second half.

Coach Jeff Lebo's team scores 76.2 points per game and allows 73.3 points. The team's guard-heavy lineup ranks third in the SEC in 3-pointers per game (8.1) and steals per game (8.6).

Senior guard DeWayne Reed leads four Tigers averaging double-figures with his 16.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan scores 13.8 ppg, senior forward Lucas Hargrove 13.3 ppg (and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game), and senior guard Tay Waller adds 11.5 ppg.

Reed is also seventh in the SEC in scoring, fifth in assists (4.5/game) and ninth in steals (1.5/game).

"Last year they won the second-most games in the history of their program with 24 wins and were 10-6 in the league and still didn't get in the NCAA Tournament," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said of Auburn. "They lost some key components off that team. As a result, their team seems to be not as effective from a won-loss standpoint. But they're dangerous because five of their top six players are seniors. They shoot 25 3-pointers a game. We know it will be a difficult challenge."

Kennedy said defensively the Rebels will have to move it out more than they did in their last contest.

"We have to get pressure on the ball, and we have to extend this game," Kennedy said. "Every game is different. LSU does not live as much on success with the 3. You try to pack it in and take away their strength which is (LSU veteran) Tasmin Mitchell. This game is completely different. They're not going to be throwing it to the post as much as LSU was attempting to do. So we have to extend beyond the 3-point line."

The Rebels' game at Auburn is the first of three in six days. Ole Miss hosts Arkansas Saturday at 3 p.m. and plays at Kentucky Tuesday at 6 p.m. The new TV contract of the SEC has some sequences like this.

"It will be a quick turn, but everybody has to deal with it at some point," Kennedy said. "The biggest thing it will cut into is your preparation time. We've had four days in preparation for Auburn. Obviously now we'll have a very quick turnaround and it really cuts into your prep time."

The Rebels have had four of their first six games on the SEC road. Finishing 4-2 with a win at Auburn to close out that first segment would be significant, since three of them would be road wins.

"It would be big," Kennedy said. "Honestly for this group, this is uncharted waters. We don't have guys that can reflect back on postseason play. For us it is a growth process, and it truly is trying to get to the next day and trying to get better.

"One thing that has been encouraging for us and hopefully educational is the fact that we've been in all kinds of situations. We've fought back to win games when we were down late. We've given up leads late that hopefully we can learn from. We've won on the road in difficult venues. We've done it with defense. We've done it with offense. We've had different guys step up. So I'm hopeful all of that will help us as we approach February."

Rebel Notes

- Ole Miss is one of four schools in the country whose football, men's basketball and baseball teams are currently ranked in their respective top 25 polls.

- The Rebels are off to their best start in league play since also starting 3-2 in 2006.

- The Rebels are one win shy of equaling last year's total of 16.

- At 81.6 ppg, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the nation in scoring offense.

- Through five league games, Ole Miss leads the SEC in field-goal percentage defense at 38.1 percent.

- Ole Miss is 11-0 when out-rebounding its opponent.

- Junior guard Chris Warren ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring at 16.5 ppg, and sophomore guard Terrico White is 13th with 15.2 points per game.

- Kennedy said he believes Terrico White remains confident despite not having the production he was earlier in the season.

"Some of the things he says, he acts like it's an issue," Kennedy said. "But I don't ever see that. I don't see that in the body language. I don't see that in reactions. Terrico's Terrico. He didn't make a field goal against LSU and only scored one point. In the locker room, you wouldn't have known any difference. I think that's one of his gifts. He just plays the game."

- Kennedy said his team is healthy after some bumps and bruises the last week or so.


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