In The Zone

Defensively Ole Miss will likely see a lot of zone today at 8 p.m. against Mississippi State in the first matchup of the season between the two arch-rivals. The Bulldogs have had success through the years playing the Rebels that way.

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It's normally been an effective way to defend the Rebels and has been again this season since Ole Miss hasn't proven to be an outstanding outside shooting team. The Rebels are last in the Southeastern Conference in 3-point shooting at 27 percent. They've shot 281 and made just 76 from beyond the arc.

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said he knows Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury will try to go with whatever works for his team to be able to be victorious again.

"This (MSU) team plays more man than zone," said Kennedy, 3-7 in 10 games through five seasons against the Bulldogs. "We're anticipating him, like us, will throw a little bit of everything out there and see what's the most effective. All coaches go by feel and have three or four things to unveil throughout the course of a game to see what's effective."

Auburn, in a 69-68 double overtime win against Ole Miss last Saturday, zoned the Rebels effectively. Junior forward Murphy Holloway said the Rebels have to handle it better.

"As they tighten it up, it makes it a lot harder," Holloway said of the zone. "We've got to penetrate, kick, obviously the guard (has to) flash to the middle sometime, things like that. I think (we have to beat the zone) if we're going to score some points."

At 11-6 overall and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play, the Rebels need to find a way to score, to defend, and to win. Otherwise a season of promise at 9-1 earlier could be considered on the brink 18 games in.

Murphy Holloway
Bruce Newman

Freshman guard Jarvis Summers said the Rebels just need to play - and play with confidence.

"You've just got to keep shooting and don't think about it," said Summers, who apparently did that at Auburn, leading the team in scoring with 22 points, including going 4 for 8 from 3-point range. "I think we're going to make a lot of shots. We're focused and we've been going hard in practice. I think we're ready."

Summers also knows the Rebels have to play on both ends of the court if they are to win.

"Really it's going to come down to playing defense," he said. "If you just stop the opponent from scoring, you'll be OK."

But Summers admitted he has room for improvement, knowing that he should even take his own advice.

"I feel comfortable, but I think I can do better," said Summers, playing point guard much of the time after the departure of former Rebel Dundrecous Nelson. "I'm just thinking a little too much. I've got to let the game come to me and be more patient."

Summers is currently the Rebels' leading scorer, but barely. His 10.8 points per game slightly edge out two teammates – senior forward Terrance Henry at 10.7 and Holloway at 10.6.

Mississippi State comes in strong with back to back four-point wins at home against Tennessee (62-58) and Alabama (56-52). The Bulldogs are 15-3 with a season-opening 68-58 loss to Akron in Starkville, a 54-52 setback to Baylor on a neutral court in Dallas, and a 98-88 loss at Arkansas to open the SEC season prior to the two home wins.

MSU is 20-7 against Ole Miss in Stansbury's 13 seasons. But the veteran mentor said those previous encounters don't matter at this point.

"Those other 27 games that have been played have nothing to do with this one," he said. "They're all different. Each of us has a different team each year. Ole Miss hasn't lost a game at home this year. So it will be a difficult challenge up there. But every game and every year are different."

Junior forward Renardo Sidney and senior guard Dee Bost were the big names for MSU coming into the season. But it's been junior transfer Arnett Moultrie who has lifted the Bulldogs even higher.

"He goes hard every play. He goes to the board. Look at the stat line," said the Rebels' Holloway of Moultrie. "He's averaging a double-double. On film it looks like he's full speed the whole game and not taking plays off."

Moultrie, a forward from Memphis, Tenn., but a UTEP player before arriving at State, was named SEC Player of the Week for his performances in the Bulldogs' most recent two games.

Reginald Buckner
Bruce Newman

"I think he's a tremendous player," Kennedy said. "We've known about him for quite some time. We tried to recruit him toward the end of the recruiting process when he was coming out of high school in Memphis. He's a long, talented, hard-playing, multi-dimensional power forward who I think can do a lot of different things for their team. I think he's really given them consistent performance from day one, which is easier said than done at this level."

"He's a consistent rebounder for us," Stansbury said. "That's a great tool to have on your side. Offensively he continues to get better."

Kennedy said the Rebels' Holloway and junior forward Reginald Buckner will have to be at their best inside, along with Henry.

"They've got a little bit of a size advantage," Kennedy said of the Bulldogs. "Arnett is a legitimate 6-10, and Renardo Sidney is 6-10. Reg and Murph are both strong, athletic, high-level rebounders, defenders at the basket. It should be a heck of a matchup."

Kennedy said his team normally has trouble with Bost.

"Dee Bost has been a tremendous player for State. He has certainly had his way against us over the years," he said. "He seems to always make big plays. I've got a lot of respect for his game. Everything for them, if it's not getting inside touches, it's him off dribble penetration, ball screens and in the open floor. So we've got to do a good job of making sure we try to contain him in the open floor as best as possible. Obviously he's got a huge experience advantage."

Kennedy said the Rebels want to take the fight to MSU and obviously come out victorious.

"We'll take what the game gives us," he said. "We'll just have to do the things that have allowed us to have some success. We've certainly got to be the aggressor. This (Ole Miss) team cannot play on its heels. That's not who we are. So we'll take an aggressive approach."

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