SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – In its first matchup against a team projected by some analysts to play in the NCAA tournament, the backcourt carried the day for Ole Miss.
The Rebels got huge games from their biggest stars, guards Chris Warren and Terrico White, to turn back Kansas State 86-74 Friday in the second round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off.
Ole Miss will play No. 6 Villanova in the championship game at 7 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2.
Warren scored 27 points and White 25. The preseason All-SEC guards were a combined 6-for-12 from 3-point range with White hitting 3-of-5 and Warren hitting 3-of-7.
The Rebels survived early foul trouble from center DeAundre Cranston, who eventually fouled out, to out-rebound the bigger Wildcats 36-32. Murphy Holloway led Ole Miss with 10 boards, eight of them on the defensive end.
UConn transfer Curtis Kelly, a 6-8, 250-pound presence in the paint, led Kansas State with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the Wildcats’ guards couldn’t keep pace.
Kelly hit 7-of-10 field goals, but the Wildcats found scoring in the paint tough as the Rebels collected seven blocked shots, three by freshman Reggie Buckner.
Kansas State shot 43.1 percent from the field but couldn’t take advantage of trips to the free throw line, hitting just 51.9 percent.
Warren and White took 30 of the Rebels’ 50 field goal attempts and connected on 17 of them.
Eniel Polynice added 13 points and Holloway 10 points for Ole Miss.
Ole Miss shot 63 percent from the field in the second half, quickly building on a 32-30 halftime lead. White’s jumper with 8:58 remaining made it 63-53, and the Wildcats (3-1) never managed to get the lead back under 10 points.
NEMS Daily Journal