Without Murph

Andy Kennedy feared the worst against Middle Tennessee State, and not because his team trailed by only one with nearly 10 minutes to go in an important non-conference game.

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No, Kennedy had a front-row seat to the injury to his star player, Murphy Holloway, who got tangled up as he dove for a loose ball on the floor. Then a MTSU player fell on his leg. Kennedy walked onto the floor. He saw the pain in Holloway's face.

What was hurt? His knee or his ankle? Kennedy couldn't tell. Even worse, he couldn't shake the possibility of losing Holloway for the year, a player who nearly averages a double-double.

"Thankfully, it was best-case prognosis for us. He's day-to-day, literally," Kennedy said Wednesday, gathering with local media in the team's practice facility. "The one thing that he's got, he's genetically gifted, and he's healing pretty quickly. We'll take it day by day."

Holloway is playing close to 30 minutes a game, and his absence leaves a sizeable hole in the Rebels' lineup at the four. Because Holloway, according to Kennedy and his teammates, is the glue. He holds everything together.

"We're still trying to figure some of those things out. We want to be able to put our five best players on the floor, regardless of position," Kennedy said. "Terrance (Henry) will have to play some four, because then we become thin at that slot. We'll try to figure out the best combination. Some of that will be Terrance bleeding back to that four spot."

Murphy Holloway
Bruce Newman

"Just other guys stepping up, getting their share of rebounds and doing their part for the team," Henry said.

Ole Miss eventually fell to MTSU, 68-56, in Southaven. The loss was the second of back-to-back losses. The Rebels are now 9-3 on the year. Ole Miss returns to action Friday night at Dayton at 6 p.m.

Henry has the most experience at the four, a position he primarily handled last season. However, he'll admit he's better suited for the three, where he can use his outside game while Holloway and junior Reginald Buckner scoop up every rebound.

But he isn't afforded that luxury anymore, at least not for a few weeks. Kennedy said Holloway could return against LSU to open Southeastern Conference play. "That's realistic," Kennedy said.

"Other guys just have to step up, man," veteran Nick Williams said. "Terrance will probably have to move to the four, and (Aaron Jones) is going to get more minutes and Demarco (Cox) is going to get more minutes. Guys got to step up. Next man in. It's how it's always been with any other team. Guys have to step up, and I think they will."

However, Henry is the focal point. Henry is averaging 11.6 points per game and 3.9 rebounds. He's made 47 percent of his field-goal attempts.

"I'm used to it. I've been playing a little four this year anyway, so it's not something I'm not accustomed to," Henry said. "But it'll be an easy transition. We'll have enough guards to rotate in and out while I'm playing the four.

"The hardest thing is rebounding at my position. It's hard, especially when I had Murphy and Reggie down there sucking up every rebound. With me playing the four, it'll be a little easier. I'm already down there."

Henry blamed himself for the struggles of the last two games. He said the team wasn't focused, leading not only to the loss to Middle Tennessee State, but also to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg.

Dayton, 9-4 on the season and winners of four out of its last five games, presents an opportunity to right the ship.

"We weren't focused last week on getting these two wins before Christmas. I kind of put that on me, because I didn't stress that enough to the team," Henry said. "I sound like a coach in here, but as the leader of this team, I didn't stress that enough. Luckily, we've got another game coming up. We can try to get that one."

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