Sunday Night Victory

Ole Miss beat Northern Arizona 80-74 Sunday night, and as you might expect, Andy Kennedy wasn’t carried away with the victory. Glad to get it, yes, and saw some things he liked. But still some issues to be resolved.

“The high points for us were that we made free throws (30-35). And we were plus-15 on the glass (42-27),” he said.

There were some not so high points as well.

“Our ball security is still in question (16 turnovers),” Kennedy said. “One day I believe we’re going to make a perimeter shot (2-12 from 3-point range). I hope it happens soon. That’s an issue for us.”

Ole Miss and Northern Arizona battled closely for much of the game. The Rebels led 37-32 at halftime.

Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White scored 22 and 12 points respectively and highlighted a 13-0 run in the final 10 minutes. But with Ole Miss leading 65-51, Kennedy wasn’t all that pleased with what happened at that point.

“We’re up 14 points with about six minutes to play, and I didn’t like the way we finished the game,” he said. “We were just trying to run the clock out, and they rose up and made some shots.”

Kennedy still played a lot of players – 11 to be exact. Nine of them played double-digit minutes.

“I’m trying my best to shorten the rotation, but there’s very little separation,” he said. “I’m still playing a bunch of new guys. Even though they are veterans, they are new to us. As a result we’ve had some inconsistencies. We’re still trying to mix and match up front to get some productivity.

“Obviously Jarvis is going to play. He’s our guy. Snoop’s been pretty consistent. I thought he had some good rebounds. He’s got to be a guy that really carries a bigger load for us as we get new guys in that are going to be pivotal parts of our team.”

The Rebels are now 3-1 on the season. Kennedy said he continues to learn about this team.

“We’re not as tough physically as I would have hoped,” he said. “We make excuses, and I didn’t know this group would do that. Some of it is a defense mechanism. I get that. I’ve done this a long time. Sometimes that’s the easy out. But we’ve got to get tougher. We’ve got to play to our abilities. I don’t think we’ve done that yet.”

The Ole Miss-NAU game was actually a first-round game in the Emerald Coast Classic. Ole Miss now plays Creighton in that tournament at the main site in Niceville, Fla. That game is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“We play a Creighton team that may be nationally ranked come the poll tomorrow," Kennedy said. "They beat 18th-ranked Oklahoma. Creighton is a very good team. They’ve got guys that can really shoot it. We know it’s going to be a challenge, and we know we’ll have to play our best game of the season.”

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