OXFORD, Miss. -- After a few weeks of frustration with Mississippi, Andy Kennedy left Saturday's 108-64 win over Centenary feeling pretty good about the Rebels.
A blowout will do that for a coach."Today I thought we had a great rhythm," Kennedy said. "I thought our team chemistry was outstanding. We've still got some issues, obviously, as most teams do in December, but I thought we stepped forward today."Terrico White scored 17 points, Eniel Polynice added 13 and the Rebels (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) dominated Centenary from the opening tip. Ole Miss won its sixth straight by blitzing the Gents (4-6) early, building a 24-2 lead to start the game, then maintaining focus throughout its most lopsided win of the season.It was the largest margin of victory for Ole Miss since 2001 and its most points in two seasons.It was also a colossal relief for the Rebels, who needed a mental boost with a game at No. 6 West Virginia on Wednesday up next. Ole Miss needed to rally for wins against Southern Miss, McNeese State and Texas-El Paso in their previous three games, and no one was happy with the way those victories went down.The Centenary win left everyone feeling groovy."That was nice," said Murphy Holloway, who finished with 12 points. "We went up by 24 and I was thinking, 'Yeah, we're going to cruise.' "Ole Miss shot 67.7 percent from the field, by far its best effort of the season, and dominated in the paint with a 50-28 advantage. The Rebels also had 32 assists, one shy of the school record."Sixty-eight percent from the field is ridiculous," Kennedy said. "We were 10 of 11 in the second half at one point. That's just crazy. But we were one assist off the school record and that showed we were sharing the ball. We've got to have that."The Rebels held the Gents to one field goal in the first 8:29 and without a point for a span of 6:30 during the game-starting run. They led by as much as 48-14 late in the first half and were up 52-22 at halftime.Ole Miss' frontcourt was especially effective early, scoring 15 of the team's first 20 points. Center DeAundre Cranston hit back-to-back 3-pointers when left open on the wing to highlight a 20-0 run. Reginald Buckner fired home a pair of flying dunks off his teammates' misses during a 12-2 run that made it 38-11 and Zach Graham and White combined on a 10-0 run for the 34-point lead, the biggest of the first half.White was 7 of 10 from the field and only one of 12 Rebels players to shoot less than 50 percent."We could've played our best game and it still wouldn't have happened," Centenary coach Greg Gary said. "You can't have a bad day against a Top 25 team and we did."Staked to a 30-point lead coming out of halftime, Ole Miss suffered a momentary lapse. Polynice misfired on an alley-oop dunk on the Rebels' first possession out of the locker room, then allowed David Perez to hit a wide-open 3-pointer.Kennedy called a timeout 18 seconds in and tore into his team. The reminder worked and Ole Miss went on to hit 21 of 28 from the field and 7 of 12 3s in the second half."Our approach was terrific," Kennedy said. "It puts a good taste in our mouth going to West Virginia because that's going to be a colossal challenge."