"I'm not going to use that as an excuse," Kennedy said, hopeful Buckner will be back for the Rebels' next game which is Friday night at home against Penn State. "We've got guys on scholarship in an SEC program. We've lost games before, but I don't know if we've ever lost one like that of just getting totally dominated on the glass."
The "like that" Kennedy is talking about was the fact that Ole Miss appeared to be in complete control, even without Buckner, at least for a while. The Rebs led 50-34 with 17 minutes left in the game and still led by 13 points at 63-50 with just more than eight minutes remaining in regulation.
But the Flyers, who eliminated Ole Miss from the NIT in New York City last spring with a 68-63 win, methodically kept chipping away in this one. And they got some help from an Ole Miss team that went ice cold.
The Rebels were 2-for-19 from the floor in the game's final eight minutes and five minutes of overtime. From 3-point range during that stretch, the Rebels were 0-for-14.
"Our inability to make a play. We just froze up and couldn't make a play," Kennedy said. "That was very unusual for us. Our inability to finish inside. Our inability to come up and grab a hard defensive rebound during crunch time ended up putting us in a position where we could lose. And that's what happened."
Ole Miss led in the rebounding department in the first half 19-15. By game's end, the Flyers had a big edge on the boards 51-35.
I know I'm a big part of that," said senior guard/forward Zach Graham. "I didn't have any rebounds tonight. We've got to rebound collectively as a team. Reggie is such a big force out there. It hurt us a little when he came out. But I have to step up and help more."
Ole Miss had a 13-2 lead early and kept it throughout the first half. Actually Dayton never led until the overtime period. The Flyers, now 3-0, took their first lead of the entire contest at 71-69 with 57 seconds to go in the extra period and never lost it.
Graham led five Ole Miss players in double figures with 16 points. Senior guard Chris Warren had 11 but was only 1-for-12 from 3-point range.
From the free throw line, the statistics looked like this game was played in Ohio. Ole Miss was 8-for-16 and Dayton 26-for-33.
The Rebels and Nittany Lions play at 6 p.m. Friday night in Tad Smith Coliseum in an SEC-Big Ten showdown.
An Active Nelson:
Ole Miss freshman guard Dundrecous Nelson was 5-for-8 from the floor, including 2-for-5 from 3-point range, for 12 points with an assist, a rebound, a turnover, and a steal. But he also had four fouls.
The Jackson Murrah star felt pretty good about his best night yet as a Rebel.
"I felt I played OK. I'm just gathering my confidence," said Nelson, who was hampered earlier in the fall with a concussion and an ankle injury.
"I feel I'm getting better," he said. "I'm not 100 percent yet, but I'm getting there.
Nelson said the Rebels simply have to pick up their intensity before the next game.
"Effort," he said of their downfall in this one. "Wanting it more than the other team."
"He had some moments," Kennedy said of Nelson. "I thought it was good for him. He relaxed and made some shots. I thought it was a good night for Dundrecous and he gave us energy."
Not Enough At The Line:
Ole Miss was not able to get to the free throw line even half as many times as the visiting Flyers. Kennedy said the free throw descrepancy was tough for his team to overcome.
"Our guards were 4-for-5 (tonight). Going into this game, our frontcourt had only attempted one free throw and hadn't made any. That's why we were shooting so high (a percentage). Tonight Terrance (Henry) got to the line (4-for-11) but was not able to convert at the rate that we needed."
Kennedy said freshman center Demarco Cox, with two points and one rebound in 15 minutes, continues to improve but has a ways to go yet.
"The game's just too fast for him right now," Kennedy said.
(Photos by Joey Brent)