Parnell recovers as Rebels beat Georgia

Jermey Parnell didn't feel well at all at halftime. Andy Kennedy said the 6-foot-8 junior forward was basically hyperventilating in the locker room at the break.

So in the second half of Ole Miss' 67-49 victory over Georgia Wednesday night, Parnell had his best half ever as a Rebel.

Parnell finished the contest with a double-double - 11 points and 10 rebounds. Of those totals, six points and six rebounds came after Parnell's intermission illness.

Fortunately for the Rebels and for Parnell, the feeling went away just in time for his splended second half and an important victory for his team.

"I was scared," Parnell said after the game of his halftime situation. "I don't want to ever have that feeling again."

Scared was certainly not the way he played. Parnell took the basketball on offense when it was dished to him and followed with several slams and a layup or two and even a jumper in the lane late. He grabbed offensive rebounds - four of them in the game - and helped the Rebels' cause on that end of the court.

"He was the difference in us winning by 18 points instead of five points," said senior guard Bam Doyne of Parnell's night. "His layups, his rebounding. Man, we needed him tonight."

And on defense. Blocked shots. And more rebounds.

"Jermey was huge for us," said Kennedy, his team now an impressive 18-9 overall and 7-6 in the Southeastern Conference and in a tie with arch-rival Mississippi State for first place in the Western Division. "He played with so much energy."

Parnell wasn't all the Rebels had on this night, but he was as much the headliner as anyone. Defensively it was as good a performance as any Rebel hoops team has had in a long time. With the Bulldogs trailing 39-32 at halftime - the last three points for Ole Miss coming off a Clarence Sanders 3-pointer right before the intermission buzzer - Georgia scored only four points in the first 12 and a half minutes of the second half.

By that time, against a fairly stifling Bulldog defense, Ole Miss had scored 15 second-half points to lead 54-36 when Dwayne Curtis made a layup, courtesy of an offensive rebound from who else - Jermey Parnell.

After Georgia's Billy Humphrey nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs to withing 15 points again at 54-39, it was Parnell once more that brought the crowd of 8,477 to its collective feet as he took a pass from Todd Abernethy and slammed it home for a 56-39 UM lead with 7:31 remaining.

The Rebels took their largest lead of the game at 65-44 with 3:22 to go on a dunk by, yep, you got it - Jermey Parnell.

The Rebels had shot 61 percent in the first half (14-of-23). Abernethy said the Rebels knew they'd have to turn it up a notch defensively in case they didn't shoot it that well in the second half. Their head coach made sure they knew that, too.

"Coach (Kennedy) told us at halftime that if we shot 61 percent again, we'd be fine," said the senior guard who wasn't his usual self, scoring only three points in the game with three turnovers. "But he challenged us to win the defensive and rebounding battles. We just came out in that second half ready to play."

The Rebels cooled off a bit but not as much as Georgia did. The Rebs shot just 37 percent (11-of-30) in the second half. But the Bulldogs went from a decent first half percentage of 44 (14-of-32) all the way down to a dismal 19 percent (5-of-26) in the final 20 minutes.

"They were tremendous," said Georgia head coach Dennis Felton of the Rebels' defensive effort in the second half as his team fell to 16-10 overall and 7-6 in the SEC. "They pushed us around and had their way with us."

Sanders scored 21 points to lead the way for Ole Miss, followed by Curtis with 14 and Doyne with 12.

But it was Parnell's 11-point, 10-rebound double-double that had everyone talking after this one.

"It was my best game here," Parnell said afterwards.

At halftime on this night, there was no way he would have ever thought that would be the case.

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