OXFORD, Miss. (AP)—There’s nothing like a little fatherly pressure to get the attention of Mississippi point guard Chris Warren.
“His dad (Charles) was here from Florida and when his dad is here, I think Chris concentrates a little better,” Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said after Warren led a balanced attack in an 84-56 victory over Central Florida on Tuesday night. “At least, it looked like it to me.”
Terrico White had 21 points for the 14th-ranked Rebels (12-2), while Warren had 14 and broke the 1,000-point mark in his 60th game.
“I don’t think I play as well when my family comes up to watch in person,” said Warren, who missed most of last season after an injury required knee surgery. “But the coaches seem to think I play better when my dad is here, so whatever they say is fine with me.”
The Rebels raced to an 8-0 lead and the margin quickly swelled to 19-4 with 15:54 left in the first half. By halftime, Mississippi led 46-34 and Central Florida (8-6) never got closer than 18 points again.
“We’re struggling shooting a little bit but you have to give credit to Mississippi tonight. I thought they were very aggressive early in the game and got us back on our heels and uncomfortable,” Central Florida coach Kirk Speraw said. “They just came out of the box and shot lights out.”
Eniel Polynice had 16 points, five assists and three rebounds while Murphy Holloway added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Rebels, who shot 30 of 59 from the field (51 percent), including 11 of 28 from 3-point range.
Warren’s 1,000th point came on a free throw with 12:44 left that gave the Rebels a 60-35 lead. The junior guard did not realize he had broken the mark until seeing it on the jumbotron after the free throw.
“I really didn’t know I was close until just before the game today,” Warren said. “My main focus was to get us off to a good start and we did that.”
A.J. Rompza had 16 points for Central Florida, while Marcus Jordan added 13. The Golden Knights were 0 of 11 from 3-point range and shot 21 of 62 (34 percent) overall.
Isaac Sosa and A.J. Tyler, who entered the game as the leading scorers for Central Florida, were limited to four and three points, respectively.
Mississippi won the rebound battle 46-35 and blocked 10 shots.
The win completed a sweep of three Conference USA opponents, Texas-El Paso, Southern Mississippi and Central Florida for the Rebels, who improved to 34-1 at home against nonconference opponents in the past four seasons.
The Rebels host Mississippi State in their Southeastern Conference Saturday. Mississippi has lost seven of the last eight SEC openers and follow the rivalry game by playing four of its next five games on the road.