By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Led by Reggie Buckner and Terrance Henry, Ole Miss began the night ranked No. 15 in the nation with 5.6 blocked shots per game.
Combined, they’ve blocked eight shots or more in a game seven times this year.
Buckner ranked third in the SEC, ninth in the nation with 3.1 blocks per game and blocked another three shots against Auburn.
It’s offense where Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy was hoping to see more from his bigs, and they responded against Auburn, both in double figures as they were in wins over Kentucky and Arkansas.
Henry finished with 14 points on 3 for 4 shooting, and Buckner had 11 on 3 for 3 shooting. Henry was 8 for 8 at the free-throw line, Buckner 5 for 7.
– Junior college transfer Donald Williams hasn’t played many minutes this season, but he steps on the floor looking for a shot, and he’s often been successful.
In just three minutes of mop-up duty, Williams was 3 for 3 from the floor, 2 for 2 behind the arc for eight points.
Williams began the night shooting 45.5 percent from the floor in six appearances.
Freshman center Demarco Cox also got some floor time but didn’t get much done in the box score, getting two rebounds, two turnovers and three fouls in six minutes.
– One reason for Auburn’s improved play of late has been the production of guard Earnest Ross, a 6-5 sophomore.
Ross began the night averaging 13.5 points, 10.7 points up from his average of 2.8 points last year, making him the SEC’s most improved scorer to date.
Ross had been particularly lethal in the Tigers’ two previous games, an overtime loss at Georgia and a three-point come-from-behind home win over Mississippi State. In those games he averaged 25.5 points and shot 61.5 percent from 3-point range.
Kennedy thought his team lost some defensive focus in the second half, but the Rebels had the game well in hand most of that time.
Ross got off just six shots and finished with nine points.
– “Obviously coaches would rather have to win three in a row than four in a row. For us, it’s all about getting better, playing our way into the (NCAA) conversation. That’s what we’re attempting to do, we’re not listening to all the other nonsense.” – Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on the importance of finishing second in the West for a bye in the SEC tournament
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600