"Rising to the Challenge: Sam Muldrow will once again face Rebels center Reginald Buckner, who finished 2nd in the SEC behind Muldrow with 3.1 blocks per game. As our research shows, Sam relishes the challenge of going head-to-head with the league's top shot blockers. Look at his numbers (Muldrow ranks #1 in blocks per game):
|2. Reginald Buckner (Ole Miss)||23 (9-15 FG)||10||4|
|3. Delvon Johnson (Arkansas)||20 (8-12 FG)||8||6|
|4. Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt) - 2 gp||27 (11-26 FG)||21||12|
That's nearly a double-double (17.5 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 52.8% FG), with 5.5 blocks thrown in for good measure. Sam averages 11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg. 3.3 bpg, and 41.9% FG for the year.
All season, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy has said that his frontcourt controls his team's fortunes. After their regular-season finale, an 84-74 win over Arkansas to clinch 3rd place in the SEC West, Kennedy said: "If we can get production across out front line the way we did today, then maybe we can stay a while in Atlanta." Buckner's production - or lack thereof - has been a bellwether for Ole Miss. In a midweek loss to Auburn, Buckner had 0 points and 0 rebounds and fouled out in 6 minutes. Against Arkansas, he poured in 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Muldrow will need to bring menacing defense on Buckner - and the numbers suggest he can do it."