Redskins

No. 23 Mississippi piling up points, victories

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No. 23 Mississippi piling up points, victories

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Mississippi's Nick Williams knows what it's like to just miss the NCAA tournament.

That's why the fifth-year senior isn't too giddy about the Rebels' current seven-game winning streak, including a 4-0 start in Southeastern Conference play and a national ranking for the first time since 2010.

``We don't want to just be 4-0,'' Williams said after Saturday's win over Arkansas. ``We want to keep it going.''

The cautious approach is probably warranted.

The Rebels have been in the NCAA tournament hunt many times over the past several years, only to falter down the stretch during late January and February. The program has won at least 20 games in five of the past six seasons, but has no NCAA tournament appearances during that span, settling for the National Invitation Tournament in all five of those seasons.

Ole Miss hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2002 - the longest drought in the SEC.

But there's little doubt seventh-year coach Andy Kennedy has his most talented team - and certainly his most dynamic on the offensive end. No. 23 Ole Miss (15-2) is averaging more than 82 points per game this season, which ranks 3rd nationally out of 345 Division I teams and easily leads the SEC.

It's an experienced, diverse group that includes Marshall Henderson, a sharpshooting guard who's averaging a league-best 18.9 points per game. But when Henderson's touch goes cold, there are plenty of other options. Murphy Holloway is the only player averaging a double-double in the SEC, with 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Reginald Buckner and Williams are also averaging more than 10 points per game. Buckner - a 6-foot-9 forward who combines with Holloway to form a ferocious duo in the paint - is second in the SEC with nearly three blocked shots per game.

``That's the great thing about our team, we've got so many different people who do some many different things,'' Williams said. ``When two or three people aren't doing what we need to win, we've got other guys who can step up. We're a deep team.''

And because of that, the Rebels are rolling, though they're certainly not invincible. They needed a 35-footer from Henderson at the buzzer in regulation to tie Vanderbilt and eventually beat the Commodores in overtime last week.

But a win is a win, and because the SEC as a whole struggled so badly during nonconference play, the Rebels will likely need a lot of them during the conference's 18-game slog to stay in the NCAA tournament picture. The NCAA's current RPI rankings have Ole Miss at No. 32.

``My hope is that our guys will continue to embrace the grind, because that's what it is,'' Kennedy said. ``We're two weeks into a nine-week grind. We've got seven more and we've got to be ready for those.''

The third week begins on Thursday when Ole Miss hosts Tennessee (9-7, 1-3) at Tad Smith Coliseum.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin had high praise for the Rebels on Tuesday, saying ``they have all the pieces to be very successful.''

Ole Miss certainly played well against Tennessee two weeks ago, beating the Volunteers 92-74 in Knoxville. Henderson scored a career-high 32 points in that game - combining hot shooting with some added theatrics that irritated some of the Tennessee players.

But Martin didn't seem to have an issue with it. He suggested that if his players were embarrassed by Henderson's show, they should play better defense.

``The guy's scoring baskets, making plays. I enjoyed watching him,'' Martin said. ``I hate being on the other side, but this is competitive basketball. You've got to step to the plate.''

Henderson might be the main focus of Tennessee's defensive attention on Thursday, but the entire program is starting to deal with added expectations.

Holloway says he doesn't expect any slippage just because the Rebels are starting to get noticed. If anything, he said it adds to the excitement. Ole Miss has announced two straight sellouts at Tad Smith Coliseum, and expects another on Thursday.

``I've waited so long just to be relevant,'' Holloway said. ``We've still got to be hungry.''

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AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Why the Redskins should take a serious look at Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds

Why the Redskins should take a serious look at Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the second episode above and more here.

Many Redskins fans are hoping the team secures a defensive back in the first round by landing a guy like Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick. But if Washington opts to address a different position in Round 1, there'll be a quality safety available in the middle rounds in Terrell Edmunds.

Terrell, the brother of top-10 prospect Tremaine, is projected to be taken in the third or fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. As of now, the Redskins don't have a selection in the former, but a trade could change that. They pick 109th in the latter.

"Terrell possesses high end speed and explosion traits that are coveted for his position," writes NFL.com. "He has man cover talent against big targets and should step right into a role on the coverage units for special teams."

With D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson, Washington's starting safety tandem is taken care of on paper. Nicholson was injured often as a rookie, though, so depth is needed behind him. And their special teams have been leaky for quite some time, providing the Virginia Tech Hokie a place to make an immediate impact while he works his way into the defensive rotation.

It's a rotation he would likely feel at home in, too. Edmunds is more than comfortable talking trash, so if he does become a Redskin, he'd fit right in alongside the likes of the fellow vocal guys like Swearinger, Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar.