OXFORD — Ole Miss has two preseason All-SEC guards in its starting lineup — Chris Warren and Terrico White — enhancing the Rebels’ reputation as a strong perimeter team.
That reputation may have changed after a 92-64 win over Arkansas-Little Rock. Forwards DeAundre Cranston and Murphy Holloway scored 21 and 17 points, respectively, and combined for 17 rebounds in an impressive debut for the Rebels.
“Nobody thinks we’ve got much of a front court game,” Holloway said. “But we showed it tonight. We made a statement. We still have to get better but this was a good start for all of us.”
The Rebels were never seriously threatened. An early 21-3 surge built an insurmountable 27-8 lead as Arkansas Little Rock managed only three baskets in the opening 10 minutes. Ole Miss led 44-30 at halftime and by as much as 32 points throughout the second half.
White added 16 points, 11 in the second half and four steals for the Rebels, who shot 35 of 72, 47 percent, from the field. Cranston was 8 of 9 from the field, including three from the three-point line while Holloway was 7-for-10.
“I told Murphy that I didn’t think he played particularly well and he still got 17 (points) and 10 (rebounds), so that’s encouraging,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “DeAundre really gave us something around the rim and overall, I’m pleased.”
Arkansas-Little Rock was led by Solomon Bozeman and Wayne Burton with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Trojans out rebounded Ole Miss 39-38 but turned the ball over 22 times.
“Bozeman is a tremendous player, especially with the basketball,” Kennedy said. “We tried to wear him down and keep it out of his hands to try to make him less effective. They play hard.”
Along with the offensive dominance inside, the Rebels had only five turnovers. While Warren was limited to nine points, he had five assists and four steals.
Kennedy praised his team’s ability to take care of the ball.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of any opener when there were only five turnovers and certainly not while I’ve been here,” he said.
Read more in Saturday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.
The Associated Press