No Benefit of Time

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, as he has throughout the 16-game Southeastern Conference schedule, called into the SEC teleconference with reporters Monday morning, two days after his team suffered its fifth straight loss to in-state rival Mississippi State.

Kennedy didn't stray too far from the norm. He discussed the dwindling opportunities, with only four games remaining in the regular season. Ole Miss currently sits in a tie for fourth with Arkansas in the West Division.

"As the opportunities are becoming more limited," he said, "it's a big week for us."

The Rebels, who travel to face South Carolina Tuesday at 6 p.m., are 17-10 overall and 5-7 in league games. Ole Miss then returns home Saturday to meet Alabama for the second time this season. The Crimson Tide beat Ole Miss, 74-64, in Tuscaloosa a little over a week ago.

Kennedy's Rebels have but four SEC games left
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
"We're coming off a game where we didn't shoot the ball well," Kennedy said. "When you don't make shots, it seems to affect you throughout the course of a game.

"Going into Columbia, I know that we're going to have to play really well, handle their pressure and have the right approach if we're going to give ourselves a chance."

For Kennedy, the objective for these four games is rather simple. He wants his team focused.

Ole Miss could have grabbed sole possession of second place in the West with a win at Mississippi State. Instead, the Rebels are now simply trying to keep their name in the postseason conversation.

"Our biggest focus is the fact that there's only four regular season games left leading into the SEC Tournament," he said. "I want our guys to focus on the present and understand how quickly the season is coming to an end. You certainly want to take full advantage of your opportunities. That's where our focus is."

Kennedy said focus has never really been the issue with this team, minus the usual focus issues that arise when dealing with teenagers. Ole Miss, he said, has been far too inconsistent.

A prime example, Ole Miss dominated Auburn by 31 points, shooting nearly 60 percent for the game. Against Mississippi State, the Rebels shot just 34 percent from the floor. Even worse, they made just 16.7 percent of their 3-point attempts. Three players finished in double-digit points, but no player scored more than 13 points.

"We shot high 50s against Auburn, and then we go into Starkville and shoot in the 30s. We took some ill-advised shots and really turned the ball over too much," Kennedy said. "We've been terribly inconsistent in a number of areas.

"That's the reason we're sitting where we are."

Ole Miss readies for South Carolina (13-12, 4-8 SEC) with an RPI of 70, according to RealTimeRPI. Realistically, to even get back into the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Rebels will, at the very least, need to win their remaining conference games and two in the SEC Tournament.

If not, well, the only option left is to run the table in Atlanta, Ga., the home of this year's conference tournament.

"We've hit such peaks and valleys, which is a little bit of a surprise when you have two seniors in your back court," Kennedy said. "We've been either really high or really low, and it flips on us from game to game."

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