Rebs and Eagles Meet Friday Night

Ole Miss reached one goal last Saturday, beating a nationally ranked opponent in No. 15 Clemson at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.

That victory made enough of an impact that Ole Miss (11-0) received its first national ranking since 2001, sliding into the No. 22 spot in The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Now the youthful Rebels face another new challenge today: Playing an in-state rival.

Ole Miss puts its undefeated record to the test against Southern Miss (8-4) at 7 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven. It's the first time the two teams have played each other since 1995, when Ole Miss won a 113-107 thriller in double overtime.

"It's simply another step in the growth process for this team," said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have lots of respect for Southern Miss and the job Larry Eustachy has done. They've got some good players and I'm sure we'll get their best."

If Ole Miss beats Southern Miss, it will mark the best start in school history. The current 11-game winning streak to begin the season was set in 1936-37 and last matched in 2000-01, when the Rebels went on to win a school-record 27 games and reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

The Rebels won three games in Puerto Rico despite not playing particularly well. Ole Miss shot poorly against DePaul and Clemson and had to rally after blowing a lead against La Salle.

Kennedy has juggled his starting lineup, especially on the wings, several times so far this season. Against Clemson, the Rebels went with David Huertas and Eniel Polynice while letting Trevor Gaskins come off the bench.

Huertas, who was benched early in the season after a slow start, had one of his best games of the season against Clemson, making 6-of-11 shots from the field and 2-of-5 from 3-point range for 14 points.

"That's the part of coaching that's a little more instinct," Kennedy said. "We may have more lineup changes as I try to find matchups that will give our guys good shots at success. Different teams pose different problems and opportunities."

The one constant in the backcourt has been freshman point guard Chris Warren, who was named MVP of the San Juan Shootout after scoring 19 points in each of the last two games.

Despite shooting just 5-of-17 against Clemson, Warren scored eight out of the Rebels' final 10 points to secure the victory and give Ole Miss some national attention in the rankings.

Warren has been modest about his impressive start, but his 15.1 points and 5.7 assists per game have been vital to the Rebels' early season success.

"My teammates find me, and I find them," said Warren after the Clemson win.

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