Rebs still shaking off loss at Saint Louis

The long trip back from Saint Louis wasn't made any more pleasant by the fact that the Ole Miss Rebels watched the tape of their 59-56 loss to Saint Louis University Saturday afternoon on the bus ride home.

It wasn't punishment, nor was it designed to be anything but a chance to see how things unraveled.

"I had a captive audience for several hours," Andy Kennedy smiled and said today prior to the Rebels' afternoon practice session at Tad Smith Coliseum. "So I took advantage of that situation. But I wanted them to be able to see what went wrong."

The players said it was tough to watch it but helpful. Todd Abernethy said normally they would have been watching something else.

"We probably would have enjoyed watching a movie if we'd won, but we needed to watch the game," he said. "It hurt to have to watch it. We were playing so well in the first half and to let it slip away....."

The Rebels led by as many as 16 points (32-16) in the first half and by 13 at halftime (34-21). But the double-digit lead evaporated within the first five minutes of the second half, and the game was close the rest of the way.

"We had so many opportunities to take care of the little things that make a difference," Abernethy said. "We could have helped out more on defense. We missed some shots and layups. We could have given that extra effort to dive after more balls. The game was lost not just in the last couple of minutes but throughout the game with those type plays."

The Rebels fell to 11-3 on the season. They had four major road tests in that 14-game pre-conference portion of their season and lost three of them – at UConn and at Memphis in addition to the game at Saint Louis, a team which improved to 10-3. They got an 82-72 road victory at South Alabama.

The Rebels also beat Fairfield (70-67) and Central Arkansas (75-61) in the UConn tourney in two neutral site games. The Fairfield game was obviously closer than most predicted.

But there's no time to waste being down after losing this past Saturday, and so they move on from here, according to Bam Doyne.

"You can't do anything about it," said Doyne of the loss to SLU, which actually was a lot like the pre-conference game the Rebels lost at Illinois-Chicago last season in overtime when they had a large lead but lost the game. "We can't go into the next game still worried about that one. It's over and done."

Easier said than done, according to Kennedy, at least for him.

"It still bothers me, that's for sure," he said. "I'm not sure about the kids. They're more resilient than old people. They bounce back more quickly."

Kennedy said the loss was a bitter pill to swallow.

"We all know how hard it is to win road games, and that was an opportunity to win one," he said. "We played well for 20 minutes, and it's disappointing we weren't able to close the deal."

Kennedy assessed things about like Abernethy had done, that the Rebels lost it throughout the course of the contest and not just near the end.

"What we're trying to get these guys to understand is that it's not just the last shot or mishandling a ball-screen at the end which allowed them to turn the corner and get a basket," he said. "There are just a lot of things that led up to that point. It's attention to detail. There are a lot of games when we may give great effort and just come up short because we're not the better team. But when you break down and don't do the things you practice day in and day out, those are the things we have to learn so we don't repeat those same mistakes."

That, in large part, is what the Rebels are doing this week as the holiday break from regular classes continues.

Up next, the Kentucky Wildcats and the start of Southeastern Conference play in Oxford at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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