Ole Miss went 22-25 from the free throw line for a blistering 88 percent clip. This effort was led by a 6-7 night from David Huertas and a perfect 4-for-4 outing by freshman Chris Warren. It was only the first game but the ability to complete free throws puts to rest a potential liability following the graduation of three guards last season.
The Rebels converted 70 percent from the charity stripe in 2006-2007. Dwayne Curtis is the top returning shooter from last season (75 percent) and made his only two attempts Friday.
After a technical on the Statesmen bench, Kennedy sent Warren to the stripe for the team's two shots. He converted both opportunities.
Ex-Gator Green Light
Andy Kennedy has a goal for Huertas. He wants the transfer sophomore to lead the SEC in shot attempts. After Friday, Huertas is on his way with a good start. The physical guard had an admittedly off night, but he still took a team-high 12 shots and produced a game-high 18 points in 17 minutes.
"I came anxious and couldn't even sleep last night," Huertas said. "It was a surprise. I didn't know I had that many points when I didn't play well. I have to play well because we have a young team."
Mixing the Minutes
Getting the entire team playing time was Kennedy's intention, and the second-year leader was successful in doing so. Twelve different players received double-digit minutes, while Warren and Curtis were the only two to stay on the floor for more than half the game with 25 and 20 minutes respectively. Rodney Jones (5), Will Poole (1) and Ryan Brown (1) failed to get in at least ten minutes.
"My mission going in was to give everybody an opportunity," Kennedy said. "I did a pretty good job if I say so myself. The players we needed to get double-digit minutes did so. It is impossible to do that for everyone obviously."
Kenny Williams sat on the second row of the Ole Miss bench in street clothes on Friday. Kennedy offered a brief explanation.
"It was a Coach's decision. I wanted to make sure, sometimes kids lose focus as to why they are here, and I wanted to make Kenny got refocused."
Williams was also suspended during last year's exhibition versus North Alabama before returning for the next game.
The minutes weren't the only thing spread around as six different Rebels poured in double figures. Warren held runner-up honors with 17 points, while Zach Graham, Trevor Gaskins and Eniel Polynice all scored 13 apiece. Curtis rounded out the group with 12 points.
"We shot the ball well in the first half and definitely have spurt ability," Kennedy said. "We are athletic and can come at you in a lot of different ways."
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