No Problem

Ole Miss was never threatened in its 69-38 win against Southern University (Baton Rouge) Thursday night in Oxford. But Coach Andy Kennedy said his team has a ways to go to get where it has to be, with increased competition coming.

“It’s still obvious that I’m mixing and matching. And we had a new guy to add to the mix in A.J.,” he said, noting that Aaron Jones was back after being suspended for the exhibition game and the first two regular season games. “We’re just trying to find the right combinations.”

Ole Miss led 37-15 at halftime and is obviously playing decent defense, according to Kennedy. But it’s offensively that the Rebels must continue to step up and in a hurry.

“Offensively it’s hard to find a rhythm,” he said. “I could make an excuse that it’s because I’m subbing so frequently. But we’re just not executing to the level we’re going to have to. Then when we do execute, we’re not finishing shots, whether it be at the rim, through contact, or open shots. I know we’re a much better 3-point shooting team than we’ve shown through three games.”

The Rebels, 2-1 on the season, shot 14.3 percent from 3-point range in the second half (1-7) Thursday night, going 5-for-15 in that department (33.3 percent) for the contest.

From the floor the Rebels were 40 percent (24-60), and from the free throw line 76.2 percent (16-21).

But Kennedy said there were some things he was pleased with in the win and also through three games.

“I’ll tell you what I’m proud of,” Kennedy said. “Really for six halves, three games, we’ve guarded. Our field goal percentage defense, which is really the biggest barometer of whether or not you’re defending, is around 30 percent. So we’re guarding. We’re doing a better job. We were outrebounded in game one. We’ve been much better in the last two games.”

Stefan Moody led Ole Miss with 13 points. Ladarius White scored 12.

White said they can build through their defense while the offense finds its way.

“Coach always preaches about defense. Defense wins games,” he said. “If we keep on playing defense as well as we are, we can win a lot of ballgames.”

White said they just need to keep practicing and keep on shooting.

“I feel we are getting the shots we want. It just takes time,” he said. “We’re getting good shots. Some are not falling right now. We’ve just got to get back in the gym.”

Kennedy, with 12 players in double figure minutes against the Jaguars, said he is playing a lot of players at this early stage and knows he will have to scale that back as he finds the right combinations.

“I just don’t think anybody can play as many guys as we are double figure minutes,” he said. “So that will obviously change once people start separating themselves. Right now there is not a lot of separation.”

Ole Miss hosts Northern Arizona at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum on Sunday at 7 p.m.

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