Ole Miss Rebels

OMAHA, NE - NOVEMBER 15: Maurice Watson Jr. #10 of the Creighton Bluejays drives to the hoop past Jordan Hill #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers during their game at the CenturyLink Center on November 15, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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No. 12 Creighton lands come-from-behind win over Ole Miss

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Marcus Foster scored 25 points and Khyri Thomas chipped in 16 points of his own as No. 12 Creighton landed a come-from-behind win over Ole Miss in the title game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, 86-77.

The Rebels were up by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Jays caught fire from deep – Creighton finished shooting 16-for-26 from beyond the arc – but the real difference came on the defensive end of the floor. The Bluejays finally started getting stops, and it’s not a coincidence that those stops came at the same time that they started clearing the defensive glass.

Ole Miss took a 46-40 lead into the break. With 15 minutes left in the game, a jumper from Cullen Neal gave Ole Miss a 59-51 lead. They mustered just 18 points the rest of the way. It’s also worth noting that Ole Miss grabbed 14 of their 17 offensive rebounds in the first 25 minutes; they finished with 20 second chance points.

The defense is going to be the key long-term for Creighton. This is easily the most athletic team that Greg McDermott has had in his time at Creighton – there’s probably an argument to be made that it’s the most talented as well, although that’s a different discussion for a different day – but what they have in shooting prowess and back court dominance they lack in true difference-makers defensively.

Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks, who both had 22 points, are good basketball players – Burnett had 41 points in the opening game of this event – but they got anything they wanted in the first half on Monday night. It helped that they made seemingly all of the open shots that they got, and it also helped that Justin Patton, Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner looked helpless against Sebastian Saiz on the glass. Again, Saiz is a good player, but he should not have been able to dominate the glass like that against a team that’s many believe is a top 15-20 team in the country.

The Bluejays are going to score a lot of points this season. They have shooters everywhere on their roster, they have a group of guards that are as good as any in the country and they those guards thrive in transition and when their spacing creates driving lanes.

But their ceiling will be limited if they cannot get more consistent defensively.

On the other side, Ole Miss is a better basketball team than I thought they were. They may even be the second-best team in the SEC. Burnett is going to score a lot of points this season while Neal and Brooks seem like capable compliments in the back court. Throw in Saiz, who is as underrated as anyone in that conference, and this is a typically-good Andy Kennedy team.

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PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: South Carolina looks to remain undefeated

South Carolina's Duane Notice, left, and Mindaugas Kacinas, of Lithuania,  right, take a selfie during the Southeastern Conference men's NCAA college basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Ole Miss at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.

One of the nation’s best scoring guards will be on display in this one, as senior Stefan Moody leads the Rebels up against Memphis. Moody’s averaging 24.1 points and 4.2 assists per game for Andy Kennedy’s team, and slowing him down is the primary objective of any team. Memphis will counter with a perimeter rotation led by senior Ricky Tarrant, and their top two scorers are forwards Dedric Lawson and Shaq Goodwin. Keep an eye on the free throw numbers in this one, as Memphis is one of the nation’s best when it comes to getting to the foul line (third in free throw rate).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: South Carolina at Clemson, 7:00 p.m.

Despite being 9-0 on the season, Frank Martin’s Gamecocks have flown under the radar nationally to this point in the season. They boast five double-digit scorers led by senior forwards Mindaugas Kacinas (13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Laimonas Chatkevicius (13.0, 4.3), and freshman P.J. Dozier (8.1 ppg) will only get better with time. South Carolina’s gotten the job done thus far with balanced scoring an tough defense (opponents shot 39.9 percent from two), and that will need to be the case when they take on their in-state rival tonight. The Tigers are led by junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, who’s averaging 16.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 57.6 percent from the field.

SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. A game that may float under the radar tonight is Southern’s trip to Ruston to take on Louisiana Tech. Eric Konkol’s Bulldogs are looking to rebound from a 19-point loss at Ole Miss, and they’ll do so against a team that has road wins over Mississippi State, Tulane and Wyoming. The tandem of Alex Hamilton and Eric McCree has been key for Louisiana Tech thus far.

2. BYU is back in action, taking on one of the early favorites in the MAC in Central Michigan. While CMU can put the ball in the basket their issue is defense, as they’re ranked 316th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Can they slow down Kyle Collinsworth and company?

3. Oregon hosts Long Beach State, with the 49ers having already been through a rigorous non-conference schedule. While they’re still awaiting the debut of the injured Dylan Ennis, Oregon’s received steady play at the point from sophomore Casey Benson. His numbers on the season: 31 assists and just two turnovers.

4. Wake Forest faces a Coastal Carolina team that’s expected to contend in the Big South, with Cliff Ellis’ team being a balanced group offensively led by guards Elijah Wilson and Shivaughn Wiggins. The question for the Chanticleers is whether or not they have the power inside needed to deal with Demon Deacon forwards Devin Thomas and Dinos Mitoglou.

5. Grand Canyon heads west to play San Diego State, and this could be a trickier game than one would anticipate. The Antelopes are 8-2 on the season, and the addition of guard Dominic Magee (29 points against Omaha) has given them another guard capable of putting points on the board. The Aztecs will defend, but can they produce enough on the offensive end? That’s been the question all season for them.

6. 8-1 Colorado takes on Nicholls State in a game they should win comfortably. Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes have turned things around after a disappointing 2014-15 season, and while senior Josh Scott has been the mainstay George King’s been good as well. The redshirt sophomore’s averaging 15.9 points per game, shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 48.8 percent from three.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Southern Illinois at Murray State, 8:00 p.m.
  • Texas State at Washington State, 9:00 p.m.
  • Louisiana at Pepperdine, 10:00 p.m.
  • Cal-State Fullerton at Oregon State, 11:00 p.m.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Monmouth picks up another quality win

Brandon Ingram
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY: Wisconsin 64, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 49

Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig scored 15 points apiece as Wisconsin beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 64-49. The Islanders shot 32.8 percent from the field and 4.-for-18 from three. But the drama came after the game, as head coach Bo Ryan announced that he’ll be retiring effective immediately. Associate head coach Greg Gard will take over in an interim role, essentially having four months to audition for the job full-time.

More on Ryan’s retirement can be read here.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 7 Duke 99, Georgia Southern 65: Playing without the injured Amile Jefferson, the Blue Devils took care of business at home with Brandon Ingram leading the way. Ingram, now starting at the four with Jefferson out, tallied 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way for Duke. As a team the Blue Devils posted an offensive rebound percentage of 57.9 percent, converting 22 offensive boards into 27 second-chance points. Ingram was one of five Blue Devils to score in double figures, with Grayson Allen added 18 points and Derryck Thornton Jr. 15.

Monmouth 83, Georgetown 68: King Rice’s Hawks shot 10-for-20 from three and limited the Hoyas to 32.8 percent shooting as they beat another power conference opponent. Je’lon Hornbeak led five Monmouth players in double figures with 18 points, and Monmouth now has wins over UCLA, Notre Dame, USC and Georgetown with the UCLA and Georgetown wins coming on the road.

More about this game can be read here.

Oregon 78, UC Irvine 63: Elgin Cook scored 26 points as the Ducks took care of the preseason favorite to win the Big West. Cook was one of five Oregon players to score in double figures, but it was their defense that made the difference. UC Irvine committed 22 turnovers, with Oregon turning those mistakes into 28 points. Just as important for Oregon: Dwayne Benjamin and Tyler Dorsey both played. Benjamin rolled his ankle in the loss at Boise State, and a knee injury sidelined Dorsey for the last two games. Now, they wait for Dylan Ennis to get completely healthy.

STARRED

Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert not only surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career but he also posted a triple-double in the Wolverines’ 77-62 win over Northern Kentucky. Thirteen points, ten rebounds and ten assists.

Brandon Ingram, Duke: Starting at the four in place of the injured Amile Jefferson, Ingram finished the 99-65 win over Georgia Southern with 26 points and 14 rebounds.

Cameron Ridley, Texas: The senior center accounted for 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks in the Longhorns’ win over Appalachian State.

STRUGGLED

Bradley Hayes, Georgetown: One of the most improved players in the Big East, Hayes struggled in the Hoyas’ loss to Monmouth. He grabbed ten rebounds but scored just one point, shooting 0-for-4 from the field.

Appalachian State from two: The Mountaineers shot 12-for-20 from three in their 67-55 loss at Texas. Why’d they score just 55 points? They shot 6-for-40 inside of the arc (Texas blocked 15 shots).

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Playing without Thomas Welsh (illness) and Prince Ali (bone bruise in knee), No. 22 UCLA held off Louisiana-Lafayette 89-80. Bryce Alford led the way with 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Shawn Long paced the visitors with 26 points and 16 boards.
  • No. 23 Cincinnati rebounded from its loss at No. 10 Xavier over the weekend by beating Norfolk State, 75-59. Farad Cobb scored 20 points and Gary Clark added 19 and seven rebounds for the Bearcats.

OTHER NOTABLE OUTCOMES

  • Ole Miss picked up a solid home win, scoring 99 points in their 19-point win over Louisiana Tech. Stefan Moody scored 29 points and Rasheed Brooks added 20 for the Rebels, who shot nearly 57 percent from the field.
  • Also of note in Michigan’s win over Northern Kentucky was the return of point guard Derrick Walton Jr. After missing the last three games with an ankle injury, Walton scored 16 points against NKU.
  • South Carolina moved to 9-0 on the season with a 79-54 win over Drexel. The Dragons trailed by four at the half, but making just one of their first 18 shots in the second half coincided with the Gamecocks taking control of the game. P.J. Dozier scored 16 points and Sindarius Thornwell 13 for South Carolina.
  • Alex Olah scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Tre Demps added 18 points as Northwestern rolled to a 78-48 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Wildcats are now 9-1 on the season.
  • Memphis survived a tough test from Southern, winning 72-67. K.J. Lawson and Trahson Burrell led a balanced offense with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Southern’s Jared Sam led all scorers with 26 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds.
  • In its first game since beating North Carolina over the weekend, Texas picked up a 12-point win over Appalachian State (67-55). Cameron Ridley finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Longhorns, who blocked 15 shots as a team.
  • Tied with VCU at 27 at halftime, Georgia Tech outscored the Rams 50-37 in the second half as they won 77-64 in Atlanta. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 20 points for the Yellow Jackets, who are now 7-2.
  • Oklahoma State beat Longwood 73-55 in a game that was delayed 43 minutes due to electrical issues at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Leyton Hammonds scored a career-high 22 points in the win.
  • Marcus Allen scored 17 points and Dorian Pickens 16 as Stanford took care of DePaul, 79-60. The Cardinal shot 10-for-19 from three and outscored the Blue Demons 19-4 from the foul line.

NC State, Ole Miss among eight teams in 2016 Paradise Jam

Mark Gottfried
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While the 2015-16 season has yet to get underway, some in-season tournaments have already begun the process of finalizing teams for the 2016-17 campaign. Wednesday evening the Paradise Jam revealed its eight-team field for the 2016 edition of the event, which is scheduled to be played November 18-21, 2016 at the University of the Virgin Islands.

NC State, which has reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last four seasons under head coach Mark Gottfried, is part of the event as are Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss Rebels. Completing the field are Creighton, Loyola-Chicago, Oral Roberts, Montana, Saint Joseph’s and Washington State.

Of the eight teams just two have made prior appearances at the Paradise Jam. Phil Martelli’s Saint Joseph’s team finished fifth in 2009, with Ole Miss finishing third two years later. Washington State may have the most interesting connection to this tournament, however.

The father of forward Josh Hawkinson, who was the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player last season and will be a senior in 2016-17, created the Paradise Jam back in 2000. That should make for a fun return to the Virgin Islands for Josh next November. Nels Hawkinson is the executive director of Basketball Travelers, a company some may be familiar with as they’ve set up foreign tours for many college basketball programs over the years.

While NC State and Ole Miss are the lone teams in this field to reach the NCAA tournament last season, Montana is one of the favorites in the Big Sky entering the 2015-16 season and ORU is expected to be a factor in the Summit League. Scott Sutton’s Golden Eagles were picked to finish third in the Summit League preseason coaches poll.

VIDEO: ‘Randy Kennedy’ makes his return to Ole Miss

Randy Kennedy (Ole Miss Athletics)
Ole Miss Athletics
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While Andy Kennedy has been the head coach at Ole Miss since 2006, leading the program to seven postseason appearances and seven 20-win seasons, he also has an alter ego who want some respect for his own coaching chops. “Randy Kennedy: Landshark Legend” is the winningest coach in city youth league history, and in the video below he interrupts ESPN analyst Jay Bilas’ preparations for an interview with the Ole Miss head coach.

Unfortunately for Randy, the city youth league (8 and under division) he claims to have dominated does not keep score. So we’re not sure exactly how many “wins” he has on his resume. 

As for Andy Kennedy’s accomplishments in Oxford, he’s the program’s all-time winningest coach (192 wins). And prior to his arrival Ole Miss had a total of seven 20-win seasons and nine postseason victories throughout the history of the program. Andy’s matched those numbers, and with senior guard Stefan Moody leading the way for a group that returns three starters from last season the hope in Oxford is that they can put together another successful season. 

Here’s to hoping that at some point Andy Kennedy shows up on the sidelines as Randy, but we’re not holding our breath. 

VIDEO: The return of Randy Kennedy

Andy Kennedy
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Monday marked the return of Randy Kennedy, the head coaching alter ego of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. Randy coming back meant some rambling press conference responses in a video from the Ole Miss twitter.