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TB Jaws with the Ole Missians

Why, you ask, am I posting this if the answers are TB's?

Let's just say that I moonlight as a ghostwriter for slave wages and leave it at that.

Anyhow, our fearless leader imitated me in exchanging friendly questionnaires with the Fighting Colonel Sanders of Ole Miss, and the play-by-play follows after the jump.

Ole Miss blog: Denis Clemente is the go-to guy. Talk about how important he is to the team.

TB: He's the team's motor. When he's running smoothly, everything clicks. When he's missing, everything's a little choppier. This year, he has more weapons around him to help out, so even if he's a little off, we should still be able to get by. We're also looking forward to how his game will react to having legitimate low-post threats, something we haven't had in recent years. The hope is that it opens up the perimeter and driving lanes a little more.

OMb: Outside of Clemente, who are one or two other players that Ole Miss fans need to keep an eye on?

TB: One would be Jamar Samuels, a highlight reel waiting to happen. He tends to find his way to the rim for putbacks and such, and is starting to develop an outside game. I'll take a bit of a wild card on the other and say freshman Rodney McGruder. He's our sniper from the outside, and has connected on nine of his 12 3-point attempts this season.

OMb: The freshman that everyone has been talking about is Wally Judge. Just how good is he? And what other freshmen should make an impact?

TB: He's very good, but he's still adjusting to the college game a little bit. Right now, he's not getting a lot of minutes (12.7 per game), because a) he's not up to speed in Frank Martin's system, and b) we're pretty deep in the frontcourt. I have a feeling that when the light clicks on, he's going to go off.

OMb: What's your prediction for the final result?

TB: Given that I'm fairly optimistic about our basketball team, this may come as a surprise, but I think we lose this one tonight. Our players have not started well in any game this season, and have relied on depth to wear down vastly inferior opponents as the game wears on. We won't be able to do that to Ole Miss, and if we play poorly in the first half, we may be in too deep of a hole to make it up. Toward that end, this may serve as a "wake up" game for us. Right now, I'll say Ole Miss 68, K-State 64, and hope that I'm wrong.

And now for a change of possession...

TB: K-State and Ole Miss are two branches of the Bob Huggins coaching tree. How has Andy Kennedy been received in Oxford?

OMb: He's gotten nothing but support, from what I've seen, read and heard. It was understood when he took over that it would be a rebuilding job, but Kennedy is 64-39 at Ole Miss coming into today's game. Now, Kennedy finally has his own recruits coming into the program who can learn his system, which only bodes well for the future of Ole Miss basketball.

TB: It looks like Ole Miss starts a fairly small lineup. What do you expect the Rebels to do to counteract K-State's size advantage?

OMb: The Rebels almost certainly will look to keep the tempo at a high pace. With the small-ish lineup that Ole Miss will feature, it will allow for the guards to run the secondary break with guys like Murphy Holloway, Reginald Buckner and DeAundre Cranston filling the middle.

TB: Pardon my ignorance, but give us a player or two to keep an eye on in tonight's game.

OMb: First, Terrico White. He's a preseason First Team All-SEC selection after coming on as a freshman last season. White's one of the more athletically gifted players in the nation and if he develops into a more consistent jump shooter, watch out. The other guy who still is finding his legs is Chris Warren. Warren suffered a season-ending knee injury just 11 games into last season, after he came off a 2007-08 season in which he led the Rebels in scoring. If those two players are clicking, then Ole Miss' backcourt will be hard to contain.

TB: Zone defenses have been a thorn for Frank Martin's teams. Will Kennedy play zone, or is he strictly a man-to-man coach?

OMb: So far, it's strictly been man-to-man. You might notice at times, off made baskets, when Ole Miss will jump into a soft, 1-2-1-1 full-court press. It's really a soft press in that there is one, or two, trap options and if they can't force an early trap, the defense will fall back into a traditional man-to-man set.

TB: Give us one key to Ole Miss winning, and your prediction for the game.

OMb: There are two factors, for me: 1) free-throw shooting and 2) rebounding. If the Rebels are able to win the margin on the glass and hit their free throws, then I don't see why they can't win. That said, this is the biggest test of the season thus far for Ole Miss. Kansas State will feature size and athleticism that the Rebels haven't seen. Clearly, these are two teams that are poised to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which makes this such a huge game early in the season. As for a prediction, I'll let a coin flip do the honors.