McNeese St.-Mississippi Preview

Around this time last season, Mississippi was struggling to put

together a healthy lineup. Now, it’s back in the Top 25 for the

first time in nearly two years.

Warren and the No. 25 Rebels return to the court for the first

time in a week when they host McNeese State on Saturday.

Mississippi (7-1) is looking to win its fourth straight

following a week-long break for final exams. The Rebels began the

week back in the Top 25 for the first time since Jan. 28, 2008,

when they were ranked No. 24.

“I’m happy for our guys, but we realize it’s a long season and

our team still has much to work on,” coach Andy Kennedy told the

Rebels’ official Web site.

Kennedy’s team moved into the poll following a pair of victories

last week. After winning at Arkansas State by 22 points,

Mississippi pulled out an 81-79 victory over Southern Mississippi

last Saturday.

Although the Rebels allowed the Eagles to shoot 53.3 percent,

Mississippi made a season-high 12 3-pointers and Eniel Polynice

dunked on a breakaway following a rebound and outlet pass by Chris

Warren with two seconds remaining to rally Ole Miss from a 77-71

deficit in the final minute.

“At the end, it came down to a loose ball and we got the biggest

one,” Kennedy said. “It was a great rebound and pass by Warren and

a great finish by Polynice. That’s a hard play to make.”

Warren scored a team-high 20 points to go along with six

assists, while Polynice added 15 points. It was the third 20-point

game in the last five for Warren, who made six of the team’s

3-pointers. He’s shooting 45.8 percent (11 of 24) beyond the arc

the last three games.

Polynice and Warren are combining to average 27.3 points and 7.4

assists, recovering nicely after both missed most of 2008-09

following separate season-ending knee injuries. Warren torn his ACL

last December against Louisville, Polynice got hurt after

Mississippi’s first game and reserve Trevor Gaskins was injured in

the preseason.

Without the three, the Rebels finished 16-15 last season and

missed the NCAA tournament. This time around, the Rebels are off to

their best start since opening 2007-08 with 13 straight


McNeese State (3-4) is looking to win its third straight after a

slow start. The Cowboys are coming off their most decisive win

since 2001, a 101-54 victory over NAIA school Paul Quinn College on


P.J. Alawoya scored 16 points to lead five players in double

figures, while Jermaine Mitchell and Dontae Cannon each added 15.

The Cowboys shot 56.5 percent and scored 51 points off 29


McNeese State is led by Stephan Martin, who is averaging 12.3

points and scored seven in 19 minutes against Paul Quinn.

Elbryan Neal is expected to join the Cowboys for this game and

provide some depth after sitting out the first seven games because

of eligibility requirements. Last season he averaged 5.0 points and

4.1 rebounds as one of the team’s top reserves.

The Rebels lead the all-time series against the Cowboys 6-1,

including a 4-0 record in Oxford, Miss. The teams haven’t met since

1999, however, when Mississippi won 86-59 at Tad Smith