By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – After Elston Turner pinned 40 points on Kentucky at Rupp Arena, one would think the element of surprise would be a lost advantage.
That wasn’t the case, though, when Ole Miss visited Texas A&M on Feb. 13, and Turner scored 37 points against his father’s alma mater in a game the Rebels lost by a single bucket, 69-67.
“We didn’t think he was going to make the shots he made,” Ole Miss guard Derrick Millinghaus said.
Turner made shots from all over the floor. He’ll try to repeat that performance tonight at 8 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Had the Rebels (20-7, 9-5 SEC) held Turner to 30 points in College Station they’d have won the game and would have added a nice resume-building win. The widely held belief now is that Ole Miss must win its four remaining games to remain in the conversation for its first NCAA tournament bid since 2002.
Following tonight’s game the Rebels play at Mississippi State on Saturday then at home against Alabama and at LSU in the final week of the regular season.
In their first visit to Ole Miss, the Aggies (16-11, 6-8) are playing for the first time since their 93-85 four-overtime home loss to Tennessee.
Turner, a 6-foot-5 guard, was 13 for 20 from the floor, 7 for 10 from 3-point range in his first appearance against Ole Miss. He had 38 points on 16-for-33 shooting against Tennessee.
His father, also Elston Turner, remains the fifth-leading scorer in school history.
Elston Turner the son grew up on the west coast. He played at Washington before transferring to Texas A&M.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy tried to recruit Turner out of high school, but the player had no interested. There was a conversation about Turner at Ole Miss during the transfer, but Kennedy did not have an available scholarship.
The plan to keep Turner from being the big man on his dad’s campus tonight will focus on effort, not a schematic change.
“We can’t let him have easy shots. He scored 37 on us, and in the first half I’m not sure we challenged a lot of shots,” Kennedy said.
The Rebels have played more zone defense than in recent seasons in an effort to keep starter forwards Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner out of foul trouble as the bench has become thinner. Ole Miss hasn’t always defended well from the zone.
“We allowed him to get off early. He got into a rhythm. We didn’t find him in zone. We didn’t find him in transition. He’s a good player. He’s done that to a number of people,” Kennedy said.