What Does it Mean?

After Ole Miss beat Kentucky Tuesday night, I noticed the wooden UK placard on the wall behind media row in Tad Smith Coliseum was knocked sideways. I have no idea when it was done or who did it.

But after the Rebels beat the 10th-ranked Wildcats, it was appropriate. This one knocked a lot of people sideways. Few saw it coming.

Andy Kennedy, who as head coach must remain positive in situations like his team found itself, was asked what this win would do for this team. He said, and rightfully so, he wasn't sure. In other words, we'll see.

But he does know one thing for sure. The next four days will be a lot better than the last four weeks.

Ole Miss now heads to Arkansas for a game Saturday, a place the Rebels have known success and have won the past two years.

A couple of things to remember here to keep this one in a bit of perspective. Kentucky had already lost two Southeastern Conference road games this season – at Georgia and Alabama. So the Wildcats aren't unbeatable away from Lexington.

And Ole Miss' win kept it from going 0-4 at home in SEC play. That would be a record halfway through the home season nobody would have predicted.

Everybody always seems to want to know if the next game is a must win. This one was another one of those.

But to do what? Ole Miss had dug itself such a hole at 0-4 and then 1-5 in league play that all there was left to play for this season might have been getting back in the NIT hunt.

So for the sake of all that March may or may not hold, let's just focus right now on Tuesday night.

This was a game the Rebels "finished," unlike say the Mississippi State game three weeks ago. Had they won that one – and they had a shot at the end to do so – things might have been different.

Even a win against MSU might not have made a difference against Georgia two days later. But there was an admitted hangover from the difficult loss.

Reginald Buckner

Ole Miss played a decent game at Vanderbilt. Against LSU on the road, they were clearly superior and won. Tennessee at home was close until midway through the second half when things went awry again.

So up pops Kentucky on a Tuesday night national TV stage, thanks to a Big 12 game that was snowed out. ESPN2 added the Rebels and Wildcats to their lineup Tuesday afternoon, joining ESPNU – the latter not exactly widespread exposure.

This was a chance for the Rebels to not only win a game but gain some respect. And to get back some of their lost confidence. And to get some fans back on the positive side for this team. Some had lost hope.

But not the Rebels. Not even with the potential end of hope for this season on the horizon. Not with more than half their conference games left to play. Not with a schedule that most would deem more favorable than the first seven they faced.

There's still a lot of work to be done for this team to win more games. Kennedy mentioned the Rebels still getting outrebounded.

But Reginald Buckner grew up some more in this one, and a late block that led to a Rebel bucket by Zach Graham on the other end was as important as any moment in the contest.

Buckner, a sophomore, went 6-for-9 and scored 12 points with five rebounds. Terrance Henry was 5-for-8, also with 12 points and five rebounds. The Rebels were better inside.

But it was outside where they were also good in this one - 8-for-17 from 3-point range.

Zach Graham had 16 points, including 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

Chris Warren scored 22 points, but it was the last shot he took that was the biggest. Only 2.9 seconds remained after his 3-pointer went in to give Ole Miss a 71-69 edge.

When the clock ran out after a Kentucky miss, who knew what this win ultimately will mean? Kennedy didn't. Neither does anybody else.

But it has to help now and on down the road, wherever that road takes a team that was its best so far Tuesday night.

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