I know what you're thinking.
"Farewell tours make me sad." It's true. But all of the greats have farewell tours: country music group Alabama, The Who, Cher and Phil Collins. Yep, all great, all beloved, obviously by patrons of our site.
But Chris Warren started his farewell tour by picking our Rebels up and carrying them up and down the court in the first game of the season – an unimpressive 68-60 win over Arkansas State.
Murray State, whilst not an actual state like Arkansas, will provide many more challenges to Warren and Ole Miss tonight at 7 p.m. when they tip-off at the Tad Smith Coliseum.
Warren lit up Arkansas State to the tune of 26 points – including 20 in the second half. This total is only 13 points fewer than what Murray State allowed in its opener against East Tennessee State (a 50-39 victory).
The Racers had a great night defensively against ETSU forcing them to shoot 33 percent from the field. Murray State also got off to a VERY SLOW start and scored only one point in the first nine minutes of play.
If the Rebels can replicate that same kind of start for the Racers in this game, it goes without saying that it's a 'W.'
Ole Miss also had some early season jitters of its own in its first game in coming back from a first half deficit to win its first game.
So what can we expect out of these two teams tonight? The exact opposite, I contend.
Last season, Ole Miss averaged over 78 points per game while Murray State averaged almost 77 points per game. These are two teams who like to get up and down the court, shoot the ball a ton and are guard heavy on offense.
Murray State does not have a ton of size at any position. Their roster actually lists Donte Poole, at 6'3'', as a forward. There are two big men coming in at 6'9'', but neither weigh more than 230 lbs., which should allow the Rebel front-court to at least rebound well.
What this team lacks in size, however, it makes up in the ability to play just about any player at any position. The Racers can have any one of four or five players on its roster play the point or break out three's. Last season, Murray State shot roughly 38 percent from beyond the arc.
If there's one thing we've learned from Andy Kennedy's team, it's that they are willing to take 25 to 30 three pointers a game without batting an eye. We could very well see basically a shooting spectacle tonight (think Reggie Miller vs. Craig Hodges).
Ole Miss will have to take advantage of our size down-low (you won't hear us say that often this season) and use its length in the wings to protect the perimeter.
The intangibles for this game is that it's on a Tuesday in Oxford. We won't have a big crowd (maybe 5,000), but if either team can get a lead early, it definitely is not safe as both teams have the ability to shoot their way back into any game.
Bold predictions for the game:
Chris Warren hits 5 three pointers
Reginald Buckner continues his swat streak and blocks 5 shots
Five Rebels get into double digits in the points column
Ole Miss 83
Murray State 79