Different Song, Different Verse

Entering Saturday's match with LSU, the Rebels had lost three hoops games in a row. Tad Smith Coliseum provided the atmosphere Ole Miss needed to stop that skid and get back on the winning track.

In every game, there are signs that one looks for.

In the Ole Miss-LSU game Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum, won by Ole Miss 72-48 in relatively easy fashion, the signs were obvious.

Sign: A good start, spurred by the hot hands of Terrance Henry and Nick Williams, who combined for 10-13 shooting from the field in the first half.

"We needed to come out strong, and we did," said Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy. "We played with more aggression, which we needed. LSU beat us badly earlier in the year and we needed an early boost."

Henry concurred.

"Some people may have thought we were going to lay down, but we wanted to show we still have fight in us. We had to have a good start to do that and we came out focused," Henry noted. "We kept our focus throughout the game and that was important too."

Sign: The "old heads" on the team need to produce. Henry had 21 points and Williams 18. Reggie Buckner ended with 11 rebounds.

"I asked our veterans to step up and be more productive and they were," said Kennedy. "Those guys are our veterans and they stepped up. Terrance got his 1,000th career point as well and I'm proud for him. He has improved steadily since he has been here."

Sign: LSU Center Justin Hamilton, who scorched the Rebs in Baton Rouge earlier in the year, did not score until there were six minutes left in the game.

"We fronted him and didn't let him get the ball in his hands often," Kennedy explained. "I thought our defense overall was very good and our post defense was really good."

Sign: The Rebs, a poor free throw shooting team all year, shot over 70% from the charity stripe most of the day, and ended up 22-34 (64.7%).

The Rebs held the edge in rebounding. Though slight, 37-36, it was still an edge.

"With Hamilton and Johnny O'Bryant under there, you have to rebound aggressively and we did," noted Kennedy. "Reggie was big under there today and Murphy (Holloway) was also strong."

Sign: LSU Coach Trent Johnson got so frustrated with his team and what was happening on the court, he got a technical and then got tossed from the game.

"That technical foul had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. Ole Miss was just better than us today," said Johnson. "We came in here thinking we were going to win without playing hard and we got whipped."

Sign: On the rare occasion the Tigers would make a run, the Rebels, who have given up multiple big leads this year, did not flinch, answering every challenge with a run of their own.

"We've had leads before and then lost our intensity and focus. Today, we were able to maintain our focus throughout the game, which was huge for us," Andy stated. "Whenever LSU would make a move, we answered and responded."

In the end, the signs were all there for an Ole Miss victory to snap a three-game losing skid.

The Rebs are now 16-12 overall and 6-8 in the SEC. LSU limps home at 17-11 and 7-7 now.

After gaining a double-digit halftime lead, the Rebels kept the pressure on the Tigers in the second half, scoring the first four points of the stanza and steadily building on their lead.

With 7:17 left in the game, the Rebels were up 55-34 and Johnson was tossed from the game.

Ole Miss coasted in for the big win, reversing an 81-55 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge in the SEC opener.

The Rebs played quality basketball in the opening half, leading by 10 at intermission, 34-24.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Rebels were on target both from the floor (12-24) and from the free throw line (7-9), which has been their Achilles heel in past games.

Terrance Henry, who led all scorers in the half with 13, started things of with a bang, nailing a three on the Rebs' first possession.

Nick Williams, who ended the half with 12 points, quickly got in the action as well with his patented floating jumper.

Ole Miss built a comfortable 22-9 lead on a Henry jumper at the 9:36 mark, but LSU responded with an 8-0 run of their own to cut the margin to 22-17.

The Rebs retaliated with their own 6-0 run and a Henry 15-foot baseline jumper gave the Rebs their 10-point halftime margin.

LSU Center Justin Hamilton, who scorched the Rebs in Baton Rouge with 23 points and 16 rebounds, did not score in the half.

Heralded freshman Johnny O'Bryant, from Cleveland, MS, led the Tigers in the opening half with 7 points and 7 boards, showing why he was so hotly recruited a year ago. O'Bryant only scored one bucket in the second half, but he did lead the Tigers with 11 boards.

"We needed this win," said Williams. "We've been in a slump and have had some long talks with each other and with our coaches. We feel we can string some wins together and get something done, but we had to start today."

The signs were all there.

The Rebels take on Arkansas Tuesday in Fayetteville at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

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