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Head coach Andy Kennedy hoped when Ole Miss took the floor against Troy Wednesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament, the competitive nature of his players would take over.

Well, it did. And in a big way, too.

In the first half, Ole Miss (22-10) used a 20-5 run over a near seven-minute span to pull ahead by a wide margin and virtually put this one away at halftime.

Terrico White, his 27 points a game-high, was his once aggressive self and handled the rest.

Ole Miss easily advanced to the second round of the NIT with an 84-65 final in front of an announced crowd of 3,107 inside Tad Smith Coliseum. The Rebels will meet No. 3 seed Memphis Friday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

"I thought he was aggressive," Kennedy said of White. "It's always helpful when kids make shots early. I'd like to see it every night, but maybe he's not ready to do it every night. You forget that he's only a sophomore. We want him to approach it like that every night, because he's certainly got the ability to do so."

All in all, tonight was how Ole Miss was long expected to play, back in the days when NCAA Tournament selection was all but a formality.

Chris Warren controlled the flow of the game. He had 16 points, six assists and no turnovers. Forward Reginald Buckner, every bit of 6-foot-8, connected on his only 3-point attempt. Murphy Holloway even made a free throw in his 11-point, six-rebound effort. DeAundre Cranston grabbed eight rebounds.

But the story was White, whose sporadic play this season has been well-documented. He finished 11-of-20 from the field and was 3-of-5 in 3-point attempts. He also added seven rebounds and two assists.

"I was just making my shots, really," he said. "The whole game, I was just feeling it."

If there was any hangover from Selection Sunday, it was shown by Ole Miss early.

The Rebels fell behind Troy 13-10 and were shooting poorly from the floor. White connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game, but neither team could separate. The score was nodded a 25-25 with 7:12 to go until halftime.

Then Chris Warren nailed his first 3 in the half. The shot broke an Ole Miss record, as Warren has recorded a trey in 42-straight games. It also sparked the 20-5 run, which was capped by a layup plus the foul by Holloway.

Ole Miss led 45-30 as the buzzer sounded for intermission.

"Troy was very competitive early," Kennedy said. "When we got up 15, you could tell there was a little doubt. You never want that doubt to go away. I thought we came out (in the second half) great, but got lax again."

White opened the second half with two dunks off of lobs for a 51-30 lead. Ole Miss continued to pull away from there, as Warren was good on a jumper to keep his team at arm's length at 56-35 with 15:45 to go.

The Trojans (20-13) did their best to battle back and was within 14 at 65-43. Ole Miss hadn't made a basket in over two minutes, but Trevor Gaskins quickly ended that drought with a long-distance make. From there, the game was all but over.

"No one wants to lose, so when you get on the court, you're trying to win," Warren said. "Since we didn't make the ultimate goal (of the NCAA Tournament), we're stuck here. A lot of guys haven't been to New York, so we're playing for them, too."

Troy was led by Brandon Hazzard, who had 22 points and three rebounds. Michael Vogler followed with 16 points and five assists.

Ole Miss shot 45 percent (31-of-69) from the floor, compared to 43 percent for Troy (26-of-61). Ole Miss dominated the rebounding category, 84-65, and was 10-of-26 from 3.

"First of all, I want to congratulate Ole Miss. I thought they played a good game," Troy head coach Don Maestri said. "They're a talented team. If they keep their focus, hopefully I'd like to see them play well the next game and go a little further. This NIT may be a real positive for their team."

Eniel Polynice returned to the floor for the first time since being suspended before Ole Miss' trip to Arkansas March 6. He was the first guard off the bench and entered around the 16-minute mark of the first half.

Polynice had two points and two rebounds in 11 minutes of action.

"He hadn't played in a couple of games," Kennedy said. "I just wanted to get him in. He was the first guard off the bench, but you could tell he didn't feel very comfortable. He'll continue to get his opportunities."

With the win, Ole Miss has amassed 22 victories for the fifth time in school history. Warren now has 103 3-pointers on the year, which ties his own school record for most in a season.

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