Rebel players disappointed they didn't finish

The disappointment was there. They weren't able to hide it. That they'd lost for the second game in a row didn't sit well with the Ole Miss Rebels because - for the second game in a row - they'd let one get away.

The scenarios were different. Saint Louis was a winnable non-conference road game on Dec. 30, a contest the Rebels would likely have "finished" at home and won after leading by 16 points. But they didn't finish and lost 59-56.

Against Kentucky at home Saturday night, they also led, by a 53-51 margin eight minutes into the second half. But again they didn't finish in a 68-58 loss.

Kentucky turned up the pressure defensively, and the Wildcats hit some key shots as the Rebels couldn't answer late.

"I thought we got good looks for the most part," said senior guard Todd Abernethy, agreeing with UM head coach Andy Kennedy's assessment of the way things unfolded. "I know there were some more shots I should have taken. I put some of our players in bad situations because I passed up some shots I should have taken. Coach has been working with me on that, and I have to do a better job."

Abernethy still led the Rebels with 17 points, shooting 6 of 10 from the field including 2 of 3 from 3-point land. He admitted the UK defense had something to do with the Rebels' late-game scoring deficiencies.

"We didn't get as many looks down low," he said. "Their center, Randolph Morris, played some great defense on Dwayne Curtis and didn't give him anything easy."

In the first half the Rebels' junior center had 11 points, but in the second half got only two.

Senior guard Bam Doyne was frustrated that he couldn't help more than he did. He scored 10 points, well under his team-leading 18 points per game average.

"I missed some nice, open shots and got into some foul trouble early," said Doyne, who was 3 of 13 from the floor and 0 of 5 from 3-point range; he had four fouls at game's end - two in each half.

"We just didn't make shots tonight, and they (UK) shot the ball well," said Doyne, visibly disappointed in the outcome of the Rebels' SEC opener. "That was really the difference in the game."

Senior guard Clarence Sanders said for him the difference in the first and second halves were that he couldn't settle down and play as he had early.

"I'm not one to make excuses, but I was just too anxious," he said after scoring 12 points in the first half and none in the second. "In the first half I took my time, got my shoulders square, and did things right. It wasn't me being scared or anything. I just rushed things and it caught up with me."

Abernethy said the large and enthusiastic crowd of more than 8,700 mostly Ole Miss fans helped the Rebels' cause.

"There was a lot of emotion," said the fourth-year Rebel starter. "It helps so much to have that. It got loud and crazy in there. It was a lot of fun."

Ole Miss, 11-4 overall and 0-1 in SEC action, plays next at Mississippi State Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs opened SEC play Sunday afternoon at Tennessee.

OM Spirit Top Stories