By Parrish Alford / NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – If Chris Warren wanted anonymity from opposing SEC coaches he’d have to do something drastic – like the federal witness protection program, perhaps.
He hasn’t done that, so Warren has the full attention of Kentucky coach John Calipari going into tonight’s SEC game at Tad Smith Coliseum.
What the Rebels need in order to find the win column in a conference home game for the first time is for Warren to do his thing, and his teammates to come alongside and figure more in a box score, too.
Tipoff against the No. 10 Wildcats (16-4, 4-2 SEC) at Tad Smith Coliseum is set for 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Rebels (13-8, 1-5 SEC) have dropped their SEC home games to Mississippi State, Georgia and Kentucky by an average of 14.6 points. Warren, averaging 18.2 on the season, averaged 16.6 in those games.
“We know who they’re trying to go to, we all know. We also know the other guys have got to play off him, which is smart,” Calipari said.
While it may be smart, it hasn’t been all that successful.
Warren had 25 points against in a 69-64 loss to MSU. While Zach Graham added 13 points, most of his impact was on the first half, not in the latter stages when the game was still in the balance.
Georgia did a good job against Warren, holding him to nine points. Graham pumped in 21 in a 98-76 loss, but again there was no solid secondary scoring. Reggie Buckner had 11 points, the only other double-figure scorer.
“Chris is an explosive scorer. Sometimes we do wait and see what Chris is going to do, but we have to be right there with him on the attack,” Graham said.
Warren got off to a hot start with 13 first-half points against the Vols. Tennessee, however, limited him to 1 for 10 shooting in the second half. He finished with 16 points.
But while Warren was harassed, only one other player reached eight points.
Deserving of attention
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy says Warren has the will to take the game on his shoulders, as many great players do, but that’s where size can work against him.
“Chris has made a lot of hard shots, and when the game started slipping away, he did what is natural to him and tried to take over the game,” Kennedy said. “But when you’re 5-10 and 170, you’re not going to get clean looks, especially with the respect he’s earned.”
Warren was 6 for 21 from the floor for the game.
“He deserves a lot of attention from defenses,” Kennedy said. “We have to play off him better. We have to take the attention they’re giving him and use it to our advantage. That’s where we’re falling short.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.