By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The premier program in college basketball visits Tad Smith Coliseum tonight trying to upset the home team.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy calls Kentucky “the most storied program in college basketball.”
The Wildcats (13-6, 4-2 SEC), however, lost most of the players who helped them win last season’s national championship. They enter tonight’s game unranked.
While Kennedy is impressed, his best scorer, Marshall Henderson, has a different opinion.
“I’m not really that excited to play Kentucky. I know they’re good and all, but I never grew up thinking, ‘Oh, Kentucky’” he said. “I was all about Duke. If we were going to play Duke, I would be like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to play Duke!’”
Ole Miss climbed to No. 16 in both polls on Monday after wins against Tennessee and Auburn in which Henderson was 10 for 28 from 3-point range. He had 28 points at home against the Vols and 15 at Auburn including the game-winning free throws with 6.4 seconds left.
The Rebels (17-2) are 6-0 in the SEC for the first time. Their nine-game win streak is the longest in the conference.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said Henderson gives Ole Miss “a different flavor” but adds the Rebels were solid without him when they faced Kentucky team in Lexington last year.
“We didn’t get away from them until a four-minute stretch in the second half. Other than that it was an even game,” Calipari said.
record in sight
Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway needs four rebounds – he’s averaging 10.4 – to tie the school’s career-rebounding record that has stood since 1977.
Holloway and his running mate, Reggie Buckner, will have to contend with Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, a 6-foot-10 freshman averaging 6.2 blocked shots in SEC play. He’s also averaging 10.6 points and 9.4 rebounds overall.
“He’s incredibly talented at the basket,” Kennedy said. “Six blocks a game in league play is mind-boggling. They had a very special player at the basket last year in Anthony Davis. I’m not sure even he was the defensive presence that Noel is at the basket.”