Winning Without

Ole Miss easily handled Louisiana-Lafayette Wednesday night. But the story was less about the action on the court than the absence of one Jelan Kendrick, who was expected to make his Ole Miss debut.

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The Rebels finished off the Ragin' Cajuns, 66-54, to move to 9-1 on the year. Louisiana-Lafayette fell to 5-7. Sophomore guard Dundrecous Nelson, who is battling freshmen Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White in the front court for minutes, led the team in scoring with 21 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Nelson made five of his nine 3-point attempts.

"I felt my shot early," Nelson said. "I've been working on it the last couple of weeks, so coach told me to let it go. That's what I did. As a whole, I think we all came out playing kind of sloppy. They came out ready and we weren't. We had to step it up."

Nick Williams was the only other Rebel in double-digit points. He scored 12 and also grabbed five rebounds. Murphy Holloway led the team in rebounding with 10 boards. He had nine points. Two UL-L players tied for the team lead in scoring. Darshawn McClellan and Bryant Mbamalu had 12 points apiece.

Ole Miss shot 44 percent from the floor for the game. The Rebels made 8 of 19 3s and 10 of 18 free throws. UL-L was 19 of 50 in its field goals, good for 38 percent.

"This team has been consistently inconsistent," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "A lot of that, again, is I'm trying to mix and match combos and we've got a lot of young guys with the ball. Our upperclassmen look really good at times, and then at times we don't display the consistently that you need out of upperclassmen. Hence, our team is up and down.

"I'm proud of the fact that we found a way to win nine out of 10 games while we're learning how to be a basketball team. We've got a ways to go in that regard. But the guys are giving effort, and with effort the performance will improve."

Jarvis Summers
Bruce Newman

Kendrick, meanwhile, was dressed in street clothes at the end of the bench. Kendrick is a former McDonald's All-American. He was declared eligible to play earlier this week, after missing the first eight games of the season due to NCAA transfer rules.

"I thought he was," going to play, Nelson said. "I don't know what happened. We were expecting him to play. I don't know what happened, though."

Kendrick, of Marietta, Ga., was once rated a five-star recruit and the No. 3 small forward in the country by He transferred to Ole Miss from Memphis in January. Kendrick's controversial departure from Memphis is widely known. He left Memphis last November.

"He's not ready to put on the uniform yet. To me, that's a big deal," Kennedy said. "You've got to earn the right to put the uniform on."

Kendrick had sports hernia surgery Oct. 28. He wasn't able to practice for the better part of November, though he did return recently, albeit in a limited capacity. Kennedy said Kendrick's recovery from surgery played a part in the decision Wednesday.

"That certainly has something to do with it, ‘cause that set him back from a progress standpoint. I want to be fair to him, I want to be fair to this team," Kennedy said. "We're 10 games into this. He's got to be ready right, wrong or indifferent, to come into it as if he's on pace at 10 games. Until he's ready for that physically, mentally, emotionally, that's what rendered the decision."

Ole Miss trailed early in the game, 12-6, and struggled to protect the ball with six turnovers in the opening minutes. However, the Rebels reeled off a 14-0 run to lead 20-12, and finished the first half with a 34-27 advantage. Ole Miss led by as many as 19 -- its largest margin of the game -- in the second half, at 63-44. The Rebels rolled on to victory from there.

The Rebels return to action Saturday at Southern Miss. The game is set for a 3:30 p.m. broadcast, and will be carried by FSN. The Golden Eagles enter the game with an RPI rank of 12, according to Ole Miss has an RPI of 29.

"It's going to be really big, just because it's the next game. Also, they've played us tough these last couple of games the last couple of years," Williams said. "We know it's going to be a big, big game for us and also for them. We just got to go in there and play tough."

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