The thought pervading most Ole Miss brains heading into a Tuesday game with Miami in Coral Gables is not one of confidence or assured of leaving the Sunshine State with victory.
This is the Miami team who nearly upset #19 Memphis IN MEMPHIS right?
But it could also be the Miami team who lost to Rutgers by scoring an embarrassing 45 points.
The same could easily be said for Ole Miss. Do we get the consistent, rebounding and solid team effort from the Rebels that we saw against Penn State? Or will it be the team who lacked fundamentals and didn't put away a scrappy Dayton team on the home court?
This game will not come down to an impressive performance by Chris Warren. Ole Miss has utilized its other guards to string together a 3-1 record but will have more difficulty doing so tonight in Miami.The 2009-2010 version of the Miami Hurricanes started out the season as one of the hottest teams in the ACC – streaking to a 15-1 start with the lone loss at Boston College.
What followed was a 5-12 finish as the 'Canes crumbled in conference (4-12). Miami has since lost solid forward Dwayne Collins and long-range scoring threat guard James Dews to graduation – also the top two scorers on the team.
Miami retained a young, talented roster laden with guards who can seriously shoot from just about anywhere on the court. Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott are two New York products who lead Miami in scoring and both shoot more than 40 percent from 3-point range.
The Hurricanes also have 6'10'', 295 lbs. sophomore center Reggie Johnson out of Winston–Salem, N. Car., who is averaging a double-double so far this year. Johnson, Grant and Scott along with two other 'Canes will take the lion's share of minutes as coach Frank Haith uses a rotation of about nine players regularly.
Ole Miss' season, we have said it many times already, leans heavily on the shoulders of Chris Warren. However, there is an interesting trend emerging early on this season. Guards Nick Williams, Zach Graham and Trevor Gaskins have toted the load more than probably most fans expected.
Gaskins and Williams have dropped 20 in a game already – including a 24-point outburst against Penn State from Gaskins – and Graham is averaging more than 10 points a game.
These contributions, if they remain consistent, will allow Warren to eventually take over games in the clutch. It's still too early to tell if this will happen, but it is something to be watchful of as the Rebels work into conference play.
Containing Johnson and his ability to score and rebound will most likely be one of the biggest challenges Reggie Buckner and Terrence Henry have encountered this season. Buckner's challenge, as usual, will be foul trouble. Henry's trouble will be weighing the equivalent of a wheel barrow full of cotton.
Demarco Cox was serviceable in his limited time against Penn State Friday in a starting role and offers a bigger body down low. If he starts again tonight, it could be a signal that Henry or Buckner are resigned to a sixth man role at least until SEC play.
I can't imagine that the home-court presence of Miami is the most intimidating court even in its state, but the Rebels have not yet been tested on the road this year, which could be a big factor.
Also, as one of our loyal readers noted, PLZ KEEP ANDY KENNEDY OFF OF SOUTH BEACH.
- Chris Warren goes off in his home state for his highest point total of the year – 34.
- Reggie Buckner only records 3 fouls.
- Dundrecous Nelson and Will Bogan combine for less than 4 minutes of PT.
Ole Miss 77
Yeah, I know, picked against the Rebels. BONUS: Miami makes a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win.