Mississippi 71, ETSU 50
Chris Warren scored 22 points and handed out six assists as
Mississippi easily handled East Tennessee State 71-50 on
Warren was 7 of 13 from the field, including 6 of 12 from
3-point range. Reggie Buckner added 16 points and blocked seven
shots – both career highs. Zach Graham came off the bench to score
ETSU, which has played in the past two NCAA Tournaments, had
already surprised one Southeastern Conference team this season,
beating Mississippi State 63-62 on the Bulldogs’ home court on Dec.
11. But the Buccaneers were buried from the start against Ole Miss,
falling behind 13-0 in the opening minutes.
ETSU pulled within five points at 31-26 late in the first half,
but the Rebels scored the next nine points to take a 40-26 halftime
lead. The Buccaneers had a size advantage, but Ole Miss countered
with a small, quick lineup, which was led by Warren’s 12 points and
five assists in the first half.
Ole Miss (7-2) led by double digits the entire second half.
Warren came into the game averaging more than 18 points per
game, so his hot shooting wasn’t a surprise. But Buckner’s
offensive performance was a rare sight – and it’s something that
the post-starved Rebels would love to see more of as SEC play
Buckner scored almost all of his points at point-blank range,
sneaking behind ETSU’s zone defense and catching passes for easy
dunks or layups.
On defense, the 6-foot-8 sophomore provided his usual
intimidating presence in the paint. He set the school’s record for
blocks by a freshman last season and is on pace to shatter the
Mike Smith scored 18 points to lead the Buccaneers, making 10 of
11 free throws in the process. Isiah Brown added 12 points. ETSU
(5-4) shot just 31.4 percent from the field.
The Buccaneers had the rebounding edge, 40-35. Both teams will
play their next three games in the Cancun Governor’s Cup in Mexico
starting on Dec. 22.