December 5, 2007

Sixth Man: Warren's off to great start

When New Mexico head coach Steve Alford left Oxford after falling to Ole Miss 85-77 Saturday, one Rebel made an impression.

He hit shots off the dribble, he got in the open court and he orchestrated the offense.

Chris Warren played a career-high 35 minutes, and he made the most of the time. Warren scored 16 points, dished out five assists, grabbed three rebounds and nabbed three steals in the win.

"He's just a hard guy to keep track of," Alford said. "Their offense starts with him."

Warren earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for the effort.

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said he's put a lot of pressure on his freshman point guard.

"He's been pretty good with the ball," Kennedy said. "I played him heavy, heavy minutes."

But Kennedy said he still wants Warren to make better decisions late in the game relative to the score.

"He's doing some things I wish we could correct," he said. "It's difficult. We feel like we're better when we're attacking, and we're certainly better in the open floor. But under two minutes, he's not seeing it clearly enough to value the ball and run some more clock."

Warren's leading the Rebels in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game.

Curtis Strange

Kennedy has made it known that his Rebels want to play fast. He wants his players to be long and athletic.

Dwayne Curtis is not in this mold.

But the senior forward has been a key part of the Rebels' early season success. Against the Lobos, Curtis hit 8-of-10 shots from the field, scoring a game-high 20 points.

He also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

"Dwayne Curtis was big," Kennedy said. "We need him to play this way. We need him to take that next step and be an all-league-caliber player."

Curtis is averaging 14 points a game and shooting an astounding 70 percent from the field.

And more time with the young Rebel backcourt could lead to even more prolific numbers.

"DC is playing a lot harder. He's understanding things. He's been an efficient player," Kennedy said. "I'd like to get him more touches off the ball, but it's difficult. We have to get him working harder off the ball, and sometimes when he is open, the young guys are moving so fast, they don't see him

Tip-ins

Terrence Watson missed his second-straight game with an ankle injury. He should be available for Saturday's game at Central Florida.

• Warren, an Orlando native, returns home Saturday when Ole Miss plays at UCF. He's one of five Rebels who played high school basketball in Florida, along with David Huertas, Kenny Williams, Eniel Polynice and Kevin Cantinol.

• The Rebels game at UCF will be the first time an Ole Miss game will be televised this season. The game will air live on Comcast Sports South at 6 p.m.

• The Rebels don't return to Tad Smith Coliseum until Jan. 2, 2008, when Ole Miss hosts Alabama A&M in a final tune-up before SEC play.


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