Ken’s Cats Corner: Ole Miss Preview

The Kentucky Wildcats (16-4, 4-2) invade Oxford, MS tonight in a 7:00 EST tip-off against the Ole Miss Rebels (13-8, 1-5, 78 RPI).  NOTE; THE GAME WILL AIR ON BOTH ESPN2 AND ESPNU DUE TO A PROGRAMMING CHANGE ON ESPN2. The ‘Cats, looking to start their two-game road trip off on a positive note, have won 11-12 overall against the Rebels, and four of their last five games at Tad Smith Coliseum.

So without further adieu, let’s …

Meet the Rebels

Everything for Ole Miss starts with 5-10 All-SEC point guard Chris Warren.  Warren, a senior who has started for Andy Kennedy’s club since his freshman year, is a lightening quick penetrator who is capable of lighting up an opponent from long-range.  On the year, Warren is putting-up 18.2 points per game, and shooting 34.8% from beyond the arc.  He’s also an outstanding free throw shooter, having made 93.9% (93-99) of this charity strip tries on the season.  Warren leads Ole Miss with 3.9 assists per game.

Six-six senior Zach Graham is also a dangerous offensive weapon for the Rebels, checking-in at 14.0 points per game.  Graham, playing as a swing, has made 44.9% of his shots from the floor, and 31.2% of his three-point tries (24-77).  As is true with Warren, Graham is an excellent free throw shooter, making 85.9% of his attempts (67-78).

Terrance Henry, a 6-9 junior forward, is averaging 8.8 points per contest, and is second on the Ole Miss squad with 5.8 rebounds per game.  Henry is not averse to stepping-out and taking the three-ball (29.2%), but he does most of his damage around the basket, making 48.6% of his overall field goal attempts.

The Rebels most consistent long-range shooter is 6-4 sophomore Nick Williams who is connecting on 42.9% of this trey tries (15-35).  Williams is scoring 8.2 points per game, and hits the boards, averaging 4.2 rebounds per game.

Rounding-out the probable Rebel starters is 6-8 sophomore forward Reginald Buckner.  Making 60.4% of his shots from the floor, Buckner is a dangerous weapon around the paint, leading the team in rebounding with 6.4 per game, to go along with 2.1 offensive boards per contest.  The ‘Cats will have to be aware of his presence on the defensive end, for Buckner is averaging 3.0 blocks per contest.

Trevor Gaskins, a 6-2 junior guard comes off the bench to average 8.0 points per game, and 2.1 assists per contest.  Gaskins is also the Rebels top defender, pilfering his opponents an average of 2.1 times per contest.  He is also capable of taking and making the three-pointer, having made 22-64 (34.4%) trifectas on the season.  Freshman guard Dundrecous Nelson has also made an impact on the Rebs team this season, averaging 7.0 points off the bench.  Nelson is yet another long-bomb threat, making 35.2% of his three-point attempts (25-71).  Six-nine Steadman Short comes off the bench to average 3.9 rebounds per contest, and makes the shots he takes, coming into the contest making 57.1% of his field goal attempts.

Coach Calipari on the Rebels

“Well there are two things.  I watched their Tennessee game and they were tied with eight minutes to go and they’d given up about 15 or 16 offensive rebounds.  If they had rebounded the ball they’d have been up 10 or 12 on Tennessee down there.  I just saw the Vanderbilt tape and they were up one with five minutes to go at Vandy.  And then Vandy made – which they can do – some ridiculous 3s and got up six or seven, they missed a free throw and all of a sudden it’s eight, but you know.  We’ve got to play, this is a league right now – I told you guys a few weeks ago, we’re all four points from each other. Whether you’re on the road, at home, we’re about four points (apart).  Auburn beat South Carolina, at South Carolina. Alabama’s beating everybody.  No one thought they’d be any good.  Arkansas goes to Vandy and wins.  Mississippi State beats Florida.  We’re all four points from each other.”

Coach Cal on how important senior guard Chris Warren is to Ole Miss’ team:

“Obviously he scores the ball, he’ll take big shots; he makes big shots that change the game.  You have to guard him and make sure you keep an eye on him, but their other guys play off of him pretty good.  They’re athletic, they drive the ball, Andy’s (Kennedy) done a good job of spacing the court out so they can all drive and they play to their strengths.”

Kentucky & Ole Miss SEC Games Only Team Rankings (SEC rank in parenthesis)

Points per game: UK 71.5 (4)  Ole Miss 70.0 (t5)
Opponents ppg: UK 60.2 (2)  Ole Miss 75.5 (t11)
Free throw%: UK 67.7 (8)  Ole Miss 77.9 (2)
Field goal%: UK 41.9 (9)  Ole Miss 42.0 (8)
FG% defense: UK 36.2 (2)  Ole Miss 47.4 (12)
3-point%: UK 36.8 (2)  Ole Miss 34.6 (t3)
3-point% defense: UK 24.5 (1)  Ole Miss 41.3 (12)
Blocks: UK 6.2 (2)  Ole Miss 5.2 (t4)
TO margin: UK +4.0 (1)  Ole Miss +1.17 (5)
Offensive reb%: UK 32.5 (7)  Ole Miss 29.6 (10)
Defensive reb%: UK 63.9 (10)  Ole Miss 66.7 (5)

Kentucky & Ole Miss SEC Games Only Individual Rankings (Top 10 only)
Scoring: Terrence Jones 19.0 (2); Chris Warren 17.5 (t4)
Rebounding: Josh Harrellson 8.5 (5); Terrence Jones 8.0 (8)
Offensive rebs: Josh Harrellson 3.3 (3); Reginald Buckner 2.7 (t8)
Assists: Brandon Knight 3.3 (8); Doron Lamb 3.2 (t9)
Free throw%: Chris Warren 92.9 (3); Doron Lamb 88.9 (5); Dundrecous Nelson 86.7 (6)
Steals per game: Terrence Jones 1.5 (t7); Terrance Henry 1.5 (t7)
3-pt FG%: Chris Warren 40.7 (t5); Brandon Knight 40.5 (t7); Doron Lamb 38.5 (t9)
Blocks per game: Reginald Buckner 2.8 (2); Josh Harrellson 2.2 (6)

Once again, game time is 7:00 EST and will be simulcast on both ESPN2 and ESPNU.