Williams, Rebels work this week to get better

Kenny Williams said he and his teammates understand the importance of these early non-conference games. He only has to check some results to remind him what can happen when you don't.

Alabama lost at home to Belmont University earlier this week. Kentucky was embarrassed at home by Gardner-Webb this month. Oregon fell to St. Mary's Tuesday night. Michigan State lost an exhibition game to Grand Valley State.

There are others, but you get the picture. So does Kenny.

"You watch the scores and see all these teams getting knocked off, you know how important it is to be ready," said the senior forward. "It's kind of a reality check to come in and work hard every day. We need to win all these games if we want to make it to the NCAA Tournament."

The Rebels are 3-0 after wins over Mississippi Valley State, South Alabama, and Lamar, all teams they are supposed to beat, especially playing them at home. Up next on Saturday at 2 p.m. is Louisiana-Monroe in Oxford. Then comes Troy on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Oxford.

The Rebels have a real shot to be 5-0 at that point. But Williams knows the value of focusing on only the task at hand, and that's practice each day and the upcoming game.

And books, too. Williams smiled when it was said that this week might be all about basketball and little else since classes are not in session.

"For most of them it is," he said. "But for me, I've got academics too. I've got some stuff to take care of. I'm a leader and I've got to make sure I lead by example. For the most part we use this time to get better as a team, to correct all the mistakes we've been making. So this is a good week for us to get better."

Williams, currently third among SEC players in rebounding and sixth in field goal percentage (his teammate Dwayne Curtis is currently first in field goal percentage among league players), said the Rebels have improved already in a number of areas since the start of the season. But there's still a lot of room for improvement.

"The main thing we are trying to do is to get our defensive pressure up. Coach wants to be a run and gun team. We've got to get our young guys to mature and more into what's going on. We have to have them to get where we want. Last year we didn't have sometimes but a five or six man rotation. This year we don't want that. We want depth and for everybody to be on the court with fresh legs. We're getting better."

And also keeping an eye scores around the country, which reminds the Rebels that every game counts as one – either a win or a loss.

"We saw what happened to Alabama this week," he said. "We lost at St. Louis last year, and we still feel that might have kept us out of the NCAA Tournament. We're just trying to go 14-0 (in non-SEC play). We believe the SEC is wide open. That gives us the determination to keep working hard and not let these other teams get the best of us."

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