What's past is past for Rebs; Bama up next

South Carolina is done. Alabama is all that matters now.

That's the sentiment from Ole Miss basketball on Monday. They aren't happy but they've moved on. At least the players have, according to their head coach.

"Kids are pretty resilient," Andy Kennedy said. "But us coaches - I'm still harboring some thoughts of some things that might have happened three months ago. I'm not sure kids worry about what happened three minutes ago."

So while the players have put USC in the rear-view mirror, Kennedy actually wants to remember things that happened in the Rebels' 76-63 loss to the Gamecocks last Saturday so they don't happen again.

"South Carolina played very well, and we allowed them to take rhythm jump shots," Kennedy said. "At this level, you cannot allow players to take rhythm jump shots, or the outcome will not be what you want it to be. We allowed them to get going, and all of a sudden they make harder shots because you've allowed them to get going. We suffered from that."

The Rebels fell to 18-10 on the season and 7-7 in Southeastern Conference play and are tied with Mississippi State for first place in the SEC Western Division. The Bulldogs, 16-11 overall, play at Arkansas Wednesday night.

Kennedy said that while his team may not always accomplish what it sets out to do in any one game, he and his staff try to have them ready for whatever situations they might face.

"What I can do is to try to help our guys make sure their approach is correct," Kennedy said. "For whatever reason I thought we were stagnant (at USC). Give South Carolina credit. They took advantage of it and put us on our heels."

Kennedy did admit that some of it may have to do with the fact that the current Rebel players have not experienced a race to the finish line for a potential title in their Ole Miss careers.

"It is a different experience and it would be foolish to discount that," Kennedy said. "At this stage in the game, there is expectation. There is pressure. But I think pressure's good. Unless you're unprepared, and then I think it could be bad. Unprepared pressure turns to stress. We're going to be prepared. Everybody across the country and even the coaches in this league, who knew more about our team than I did (before this school year), they all voted us dead last in the SEC. For us to have an opportunity to still control that, I think it's a pretty good situation to be in. What we do with that remains to be seen."

Kennedy didn't want to go so far as to call the Alabama game a "must" win. But he did say it is pretty important.

"It depends on what you determine a ‘must' win is," he said. "I think they are all important because there aren't a lot of them left. We know we are going to play three more games (two in the regular season, and at least one in the SEC Tournament). We have to win some more games. Alabama is the next challenge in front of us. For us to get where we want to be and do what we want to do, then we have to win games."

The Rebels defeated Alabama 75-69 on Feb. 10 in Oxford. The Crimson Tide is coming off a Saturday home loss to Auburn 86-77 in Tuscaloosa. Auburn, at 16-13 and 6-8, is back in the West race as well, tied with Alabama for third. The Tide is 19-9 overall and also 6-8 in SEC play.

"It seems like such a long time ago," said Kennedy of the Rebels' win over Alabama, which was actually just 16 days ago. "I don't think that (win) will serve us one way or the other. We know Alabama is at home and will play with a renewed confidence at home. I'm sure they will come out and attack us. We'll have to be on top of our game."

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