At A Glance:
Ole Miss: 10-1. AP: 15 ESPN: 21 BP: 33 RPI: 22 BPI: 19
West Virginia 8-0. AP: 6 ESPN: 6 BP: 6 RPI: 6 BPI: 25
Considering the Rebels like to run up and down the court with the enthusiasm of students bolting to the Grove during football games it’s no surprise that their strength is at the guard position. They are led by Chris Warren at over eighteen points a game but he gets plenty of help from Terrico White (16.6 ppg and over four rebounds a game) and Eniel Polynice (four and a half dishes a game to go with his ten points). If any of the starters get tired Zach Graham brings double-figure support off the pine and Trevor Gaskins gives defensive support.
The Mountaineers have an uncertain situation with their guards. Darryl Bryant is a given but beyond that Casey Mitchell and Joe Mazzulla may not play much or even see the floor. Considering how much trouble they had with the press it’s essential that Bryant get some help in that area.
Advantage: Ole Miss. Expect some help from West Virginia’s forwards against this triumvirate.
Murphy Holloway is the third-leading scorer for the Rebs and also leads the team in rebounding at seven a game. Reginald Buckner is another rebounder who is also the team’s leading shot-blocker at two and a half a game. While these starters are certainly game they will have their hands full with the Mountaineers’ endless supply of long, strong forwards. Therefore, reserves DeAundre Cranston, Terrance Henry and possibly DeAngelo Riley need to provide quality minutes.
Like last night’s LSU-Washington State matchup each opponent has contrasting strengths. Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones combine for 32 points and 13 rebounds a game. Butler bailed out the Mountaineers against Cleveland State with his last-second shot. Devin Ebanks is getting back into form after missing the first four games while John Flowers and Wellington Smith offer defensive support. This is certainly one of the best forward units in the nation.
Advantage: West Virginia. That last sentence sums it up.
Andy Kennedy promised Rebel fans that his team was going to run at every opportunity and they have not disappointed. They have scored over eighty points in eight of their ten wins this year. Defensively they have been decent (67.9 ppg) but maybe not as intense in that area as his mentor Bob Huggins would prefer.
Huggins was less than pleased following West Virginia’s narrow win over Cleveland State and considering they gave away layups like they were going out of style his feelings were completely understandable. It was the first time this season that the Mountaineers had given up more than 66 points in a game. Don’t expect a Huggins-led squad to make that a habit.
Advantage: West Virginia. Kennedy has Ole Miss back on the national scene but he’s still the student in this relationship.
I know that Ole Miss has never beaten a Top-10 nonconference opponent. I know that their frontcourt is seriously undermanned. I know that Bob Huggins taught Andy Kennedy everything he knows and is going for a milestone win (one more to pass Gene Bartow for 23rd all time).
You know what? I’m not going to follow logic this time (well, maybe a little). Ole Miss’s guards run the Mountaineers ragged and pull off the upset.
Ole Miss 85, West Virginia 80.