Sunday, December 23, 2007

Rebs Pull of Major Win

Well they proved me wrong. I just did not think Kennedy and the boys could get passed Clemson, but they did. The Rebels took the lead early and for the most part held on for much of the first half. The second half the Rebels had trouble findimg the basket and were down by as much as six, before back to back threes tied the game.

This was a huge win, and possibly the biggest in AK's time at Ole Miss. A win against an ACC team who is number 15 in the nation on a neutral site will help drastically with RPI. This team will now be noticed in the media as they remain unbeaten. I expect them to break into the polls around No. 19.

Chris Warren continues to be clutch, and was named MVP of the tournament. Dwayne Curtis also had a great tournament on the boards and the scoring column. I also feel like it was a breakout for Huertas who had three pretty good games. This team has the guts to really be something special, it is going to be a fun winter.

(C-L)Ole Miss had trouble shooting Saturday, but the Rebels had no trouble continuing to do what they've done so far in this young basketball season - find a way to win.
Senior Dwayne Curtis and freshman Chris Warren scored 19 points each to lead the Rebels to an 85-82 victory over No. 15 Clemson in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the San Juan Shootout.
Ole Miss tied a school record with its 11th consecutive victory to open a season.
And the Rebels did it despite shooting just 27 percent in the second half.
"Our guys are gritty," said second-year Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy. "They make the plays that we need to make. ... The effort was unbelievable. It was the hardest we've played."
Ole Miss led by as many as six but then fell behind by six, 78-72, with 4:19 left.
But the Rebels tied it on 3-pointers by Warren and David Huertas, then made free throws down the stretch.
Ole Miss outrebounded Clemson 40-33, including 23 offensive rebounds.
"Our undoing was the offensive glass," said Clemson coach Oliver Purnell, whose team grabbed 12 offensive rebounds. "They're a gutsy team, I give them a lot of credit."
Warren and Curtis, who had nine rebounds, went a combined 4-for-5 from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds for Ole Miss, which last started 11-0 during the 2000-01 season.
"Clemson is a very good team, and this is a win we'll be able to hang our hat on deep into the year if we continue to improve because they're going to beat a lot of people," Kennedy said.
Eniel Polynice and David Huertas both added 14 points for the Rebels.
Terrence Oglesby led Clemson (10-1) with 20 points, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
K.C. Rivers added 19 points for the Tigers and Raymond Sykes had 17.
Warren's layup after a steal by Huertas capped an 8-0 Ole Miss run and gave it the lead for good, 80-78 with 2:55 remaining.
"My teammates find me, and I find them," said Warren, who was selected the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Trailing by eight points at halftime, Clemson took its first lead of the second half at 54-53 on a soaring one-handed dunk by Sykes with 13:15 remaining. But the Rebels kept their composure despite the run.
"I think we've got grinders, and the fact that we've been in this situation before with some close games allowed us to not panic and continue to grind," Kennedy said.
Ole Miss opened the game on an 8-2 run capped by Polynice's put-back of his own rebound. The Rebels went ahead 41-32 on a 3-pointer by Warren with 3:22 to play in the first half and held on for the 48-40 halftime lead.
Curtis was 7-for-7 from the field in the first half when Ole Miss outscored the Tigers 34-18 in the paint.
"The difference was our intensity, especially the first five minutes of the game," Curtis said. "There's a lot of things to work on, too, but this shows what we're capable of doing."
Clemson had six blocks and held the Rebels to 27-percent shooting in the second half, but the Rebels dominated the boards and had 24 second-chance points compared to 11 for the Tigers.
"We just responded down the stretch, stepping up and making big plays," Kennedy said.
A cheering section of family and friends of Huertas, a native of Humacao, Puerto Rico, gave Ole Miss an edge in crowd support inside the nearly empty arena in this suburb of San Juan.
Ole Miss is off until Friday, when it plays Southern Miss at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven.