Thursday Tune-Up

Ole Miss basketball unofficially opened its season Thursday night with an exhibition win over North Alabama in Oxford.

Follow SpiritBen on Twitter

The Rebels, who opened practices Oct. 14 and host Louisiana-Monroe in their season opener Nov. 11, easily handled the visiting Lions, winning 91-62. Dundrecous Nelson led all scorers with 22 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He also had six rebounds.

"I think tonight was good for us," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I've got five guys that haven't been out here in a while, Murphy (Holloway) counted in those five. So I wanted to get those young guys some experience. I wanted to keep our minutes where everybody gets an opportunity to play. Overall, I thought there were some positives."

Four players scored in double-digits for Ole Miss, including sophomore forward Demarco Cox, who earned the start over veteran Reginald Buckner. Cox had 11 points and six rebounds.

"Basically it is (rewarding) because all the hard work has done paid off," Cox said of earning the start. "I've been playing hard in practice and then he saw how I've been playing in practice and how good I've played, so I guess he wanted to start me tonight."

Buckner, meanwhile, had eight points, six rebounds and five blocks off the bench. Kennedy said Buckner has missed some practice time due to turf toe, contributing to the decision to start Cox.

"Reggie's been missing a little bit of practice. Demarco has been, as voted on by his teammates, the hardest worker on our team," Kennedy said.

Jarvis Summers had nine points and three assists in the game
Bruce Newman

"Not only can you see it in the transformation of his body, but he's really just every day, you know what you're going to get. Reggie brings us the ‘X' factor. He just erases every mistake at the rim. He brings us something that we need. Everybody's going to get an opportunity up front."

Ole Miss outrebounded North Alabama 58-37. Holloway, playing in his first game since transferring back to Ole Miss from South Carolina in April, had 11 to lead the team in just 20 minutes of action. The junior forward scored seven points and had a steal.

Holloway was cleared to play by both the NCAA and the SEC in October.

"Man, it felt good," Holloway said. "I was a little rusty. Felt like my timing was off a little bit, but it felt good to be back on the court, back in the groove. I don't even know how to explain it, the feeling. I was happy to be out there. It was definitely surreal."

"It was good to have Murph back, just his energy," Kennedy said. "Murph hasn't changed a whole lot, other than his energy is infectious. He has 11 rebounds in 20 minutes, just because he's all over the floor."

Senior Terrance Henry had 14 points and five rebounds. He, too, was glad to have Holloway back in the lineup.

"It's just like the old days, having Murph out there. He's going to battle down there," Henry said. "He gave us 11 rebounds in limited minutes. He's finally knocking free throws down. That's what I'm proud of. When he knocked that first one down, I said ‘That's the new Murph right there.' That's what we need. I'm just happy he's back."

Nelson Takes Over:

Nelson was the star of the game. He put on his best Chris Warren impression, leading the team in shots attempted. His final line read 22 points, nine assists, six rebounds and just one turnover.

"I'm pretty pleased how I started out the season. It's kind of a relief, ‘cause I didn't know how I was going to come out and play," Nelson said. "As the game got to rolling, I got to feeling good. It played out pretty good."

"He did great. Dundrecous is quick as a cat," Henry said. "People don't realize how quick he is. He did a great job finding the open guys. He took some bad shots, but we're going to take some bad shots as a team. We'll live with those."

Nelson is in his second season at Ole Miss. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound guard played in all 34 games last season, with seven starts.

"I thought he was really dynamic. Was electric with the ball," Kennedy said. "Got to get his conditioning level up, got to get him to slow down a little bit offensively. I thought he was probably the most impressive player tonight."

Dundrecous Nelson
Bruce Newman

White To Wait:

Kennedy said freshman guard Ladarius White has to meet some academic benchmarks, and won't be eligible to participate in games until the conclusion of the fall semester, if he meets them.

Ole Miss hosts Mississippi Valley State Dec. 10. The hope is both White and freshman Jelan Kendrick, a transfer, will be able to play in the game.

"It's good in that he's allowed to practice, he's on scholarship," Kennedy said of White. "He's with the team until grades post at the end of the semester, very similar to the Jelan situation. If he meets the academic benchmarks that have been set forth, then he'll be eligible to play."

Terrico Returns:

Former Ole Miss guard Terrico White, like everyone else, is waiting out the ongoing NBA lockout. Not to say he isn't anxious.

White was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. However, in the first game of the preseason against the Miami Heat, he fractured his right foot, and missed all of his rookie season.

"Lifetime dream and I made it, but I was forced to sit out my rookie year. Now the lockout, I've got to wait even longer," White said. "I haven't really played an NBA minute besides the preseason game when I got hurt. I'm ready. I've been ready."

White played two seasons at Ole Miss. In his final year, 2009-10, he was second on the team in scoring at 15.1 points per game. Ole Miss reached the NIT final four in New York that year, losing to Dayton in the semifinals.

"Well, you know I was hurt the whole year, so I wasn't going to do nothing but watch," White said of his rookie season. "The whole year, all the way through the games, just trying to gain experience just watching than actually being on the court. My teammates, they helped me out, and I was there to support them."

White sat courtside Thursday for the Rebels' exhibition game against North Alabama. Most of his time this offseason has been spent in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., where he has kept in shape with daily running and workouts four to five times a week.

"They send out emails every day, and like on ESPN, they've been talking about every day now. Those are the things that keep me updated," he said of the lockout.

Terrico White
Associated Press

"Hopefully they come up with something soon, ‘cause I'm ready. I've been ready since last year. I missed the whole year last year."

White said he will continue to give Ole Miss his support and attend games when he can. And the re-arrival of Holloway isn't lost on White, the 2009 SEC freshman of the year.

"All of them were my buddies when I was here. Now, they're still my friends. I just wanted to come back, be supportive and show I still care about this team," he said.

"Murphy is a walking double-double almost every game. He brings intensity, he brings defense, he brings hustle, he brings all of that."

OM Spirit Top Stories