Self Motivation

Ole Miss has four games remaining on its schedule. The NCAA tournament is a long shot, save for an improbable run in the SEC tournament next month.

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Regardless, Murphy Holloway said the team remains motivated.

Ole Miss is 15-11 (5-7 SEC) overall on the year with four games left to play. The Rebels travel to face Tennessee (14-13, 6-6 SEC) tonight at 6 p.m. CT, before closing the regular season out against LSU, at Arkansas and against Alabama.

"The goal is to try and win them all. It might not go your way, but just try to compete and win them all," Holloway said.

"I hope that they understand the privilege it is to play basketball in the SEC," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I'm not oblivious to the fact that there's some disappointment. But the reality is we can't really do anything about that now. We've got to focus on Tennessee and then the three remaining games to try and garner some momentum."

Ole Miss has an RPI rank of 62, according to RealTimeRPI. The Rebels hold the nation's No. 32 strength of schedule. In short, they need as many wins as they can get. There's little time left, and the conference tournament in New Orleans, La., is fast approaching.

Murphy Holloway
Bruce Newman

Ole Miss and Tennessee are two of six teams separated by one game from 4-9 in the league standings. The Volunteers had their four-game winning streak snapped at Alabama Saturday, while the Rebels are reeling, having lost each of their last two games.

Ole Miss is looking for its first road win since Jan. 21 at Georgia.

"Basketball is what we all came here to do," Holloway said. "If you make it to the tournament or not, you're playing for yourself and for this school.

"I think I speak for everyone when I say everybody's still motivated to play basketball."

Knee "issue" troubling Buckner:

Kennedy said Monday junior forward Reginald Buckner is battling a chronic knee issue.

The on-again, off-again injury has limited Buckner in practices due to swelling and pain. Buckner, who is the Rebels' all-time career leader in blocked shots, will be reevaluated after the season, and off-season surgery hasn't been ruled out.

"It's odd in that some days after a game, he'll have some swelling," Kennedy said. "Some days he does not. It makes it kind of unnerving as a coach. Is he with us? Can he play? We've had to deal with that a little bit."

Jones gets angry:

Freshman forward Aaron Jones played 12 minutes in the Rebels' conference-opening loss at LSU. In the four games that followed, he played no more than seven minutes.

He grew angry. Angry that he wasn't playing. Angry that his minutes were being spread out to a number of his teammates. So he worked harder in practices. He worked out more. He wanted to make the decision to not play him difficult for his head coach.

"I encourage our guys to get mad about it," Kennedy said. "It's easy to say we all get frustrated. I try to stay out of that and I want my guys to stay out of it because the reality is frustration is an empty emotion. It does you no good.

"Anger, on the other hand, can have some positive results if you channel it properly. I think A.J. was disappointed that he wasn't playing. But he didn't mope and pout. He continued to work and when he got his opportunity, he took advantage of it."

Jones played a combined 29 minutes in the last two games, both Ole Miss losses.

Aaron Jones
Bruce Newman

He scored five points and grabbed six rebounds Thursday against Vanderbilt -- easily his most productive game since a 10-point, seven-rebound effort against Grambling in November.

"It's paying off," Jones said of the extra work. "I'm going to keep working hard."

Kennedy looking for scoring:

Ole Miss signed two players, Anthony Cortesia and Martavious Newby, in the fall signing period. The Rebels have two scholarship left to give.

Kennedy said the staff will search far and wide for scoring. Cortesia is an accomplished scorer, as is Newby. However, Kennedy said the team needs more. Much more, in fact.

"We've obviously got to bring an infusion of scoring," he said. "We have to have somebody that can put the ball in the basket. Makes it very difficult to win without somebody that can score consistently. It's one of the Achilles heels of this team."

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