DAVID BRANDT, AP Sports Writer
BILOXI — OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's Murphy Holloway jumped into the passing lane and stole the basketball, ambling awkwardly up the court with long, looping strides before lofting a pass toward the basket. Reginald Buckner was there to catch the ball, bobbling it momentarily before stuffing it through the hoop for an easy two points.
The two big men won't necessarily win many style points. But they were certainly effective.
Holloway scored 15 points, Buckner added 13 and Mississippi cruised to a 76-50 victory over McNeese State on Tuesday.
Holloway and Buckner combined to shoot 13 of 13 from the field and grab 16 rebounds, helping the Rebels (4-0) shake out of their early doldrums for a relatively easy victory.
"This is a game that I felt like we were sleepwalking for the majority of it," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Holloway missed most of the first half after picking up two early fouls, and the Rebels looked sloppy on their way to a 39-30 halftime lead. But Holloway returned in the second half to score 12 of his 15 points. He finished 7 of 7 from the field and added nine rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Marshall Henderson came into the game leading the Southeastern Conference with 22 points per game, but scored just nine points.
"I thought we were really lethargic — worst game of the year," Kennedy said. "But we guarded in the second half, we stopped giving up so many second-chance opportunities. Murph's energy really propelled us. We never got into any offensive rhythm whatsoever, but we'll take it. We'll take our fourth win."
The Rebels (4-0) were without Derrick Millinghaus, a 5-foot-10 freshman guard who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Tuesday. He's averaging 9.7 points and three assists per game. He's expected to miss four to six weeks.
Kennedy said Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White would handle most of the point guard responsibilities while Millinghaus recovers from his injury. Both players are capable at the point, but Millinghaus' speed will be sorely missed as the Rebels try to run their up-tempo offense.
Summers had seven points and four assists.
McNeese State (1-3) was led by Desharick Guidry's 14 points. Kevin Hardy added 11.
The Cowboys cut the Rebels' lead to 33-29 with 2:34 left in the first half after a layup by Jeremie Mitchell, but couldn't get any closer. Ole Miss outrebounded McNeese State 47-31 and forced 20 turnovers. McNeese State shot just 7 of 30 (23.3 percent) from the field in the second half.
"The score doesn't really indicate it, but I thought we got better," McNeese State coach Dave Simmons said. "I saw guys challenging each other."
Holloway's energy and production helped the Rebels push their halftime lead to 54-35 with 13:20 remaining. The 6-foot-7, 240-pounder was providing his usual muscle in the paint, but was also effective in the open floor, hitting Buckner for a pair of alley-oop dunks as the Rebels put the game out of reach.
"I've just been working at (expanding my game)," Holloway said. "Trying to get to the next level."
Buckner was 6 of 6 from the floor and added seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Henderson hit his first 3-pointer, but then went cold. The 6-2 junior shot 3 of 12 from the field, including 2 of 10 from 3-point range.
Nick Williams added 10 points.
Demarco Cox scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in his first action this season after missing the first three games with a foot injury. The 6-8, 272-pound junior provides a big body in the paint who was a capable backup for Holloway and Buckner last season.
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