Rebs hit stride in second half for 102-76 win

It was another case of the slow starts for Ole Miss Tuesday night. After the Rebels' 102-76 win over Troy, the players said the difference in the second half was their coach.

"AK," said senior forward Kenny Williams, chuckling a bit as he answered.

There was no hesitation in his voice. There was no doubt the Rebels' second-year head coach had gotten his players' attention at intermission with Ole Miss leading 47-42 after falling behind 8-0 at the start of the contest.

Freshman guard Chris Warren took a bit more proding to get an answer from.

"We got off to a slow start, but towards halftime we got it together and we came out in the second half ready to play," Warren said. "He was just upset about us not coming out ready to play, and how we never come out ready to play. So he emphasized that. He let us know. That was all he needed to do."

The Rebels jumped out in that second half, stretched their five-point lead in a hurry and pulled away from the visiting Trojans. The lead was 20 points at 64-44 on a Warren 3-pointer with 13:35 to go.

The lead reached 30 on a layup by Williams with 8:17 left as the Rebels held a commanding 82-52 lead. The outcome was no longer in doubt, and the largest lead for the home team came with 1:21 to go when a Jermey Parnell jumper made it 102-67. Andy Kennedy cleared the bench at that point.

Kennedy summed up the difference in half one and half two for his team quite simply.

"Pride," he said.

Then there was more. He said this team has to start playing better at the beginning of games or eventually it will cost them.

"We have got to get this team to learn that," said Kennedy after his squad improved to 5-0 with a home game Saturday at 1 p.m. against New Mexico up next. "We've got to get focused."

According to his players, they did at halftime of this one, mainly because of him.

"He didn't throw anything," freshman forward Malcolm White smiled and said. "He just talked to us about some things to get us motivated."

White said he was "about 95 percent" healed with the strained Achilles that has hampered him so far this season. He played 14 minutes against Troy, scoring six points and pulling down six rebounds and looking more comfortable on the court.

"I'm constantly working to get better in practice and getting treatment to heal up, so hopefully I'll get better and better," he said.

Warren led the Rebs with 23 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes, and continues to solidify his spot as the floor general for this ballclub.

"He's got a chance to do something special," Kennedy said. "Not many freshmen come in and run a team this early, but he has that chance."

Warren said he's doing his best to seize the opportunity.

"I'm just going out there and trying to catch on to everything quick," said Warren, who late in the game lost part of a front tooth while scrambling after the basketball. "I just want to come out ready to play. If I do that and we all do that, we can be good."

Four other players scored in double figures for Ole Miss, including Dwayne Curtis with 17 and Parnell with 12. Williams and freshman guard Trevor Gaskins had 10 points apiece. Williams also pulled down 13 big boards in the contest.

The Rebels shot 46 percent (43-of-93) from the floor in surpassing the century mark for the second time in five games. From 3-point range they were 8-of-23 for 35 percent, and from the free throw line 62 percent (8-of-13).

Troy put up 33 3-pointers and made 12 for 36 percent while shooting 34 percent from the floor overall (27-of-79). At the line the Trojans were 10-of-18 for 56 percent.

Ole Miss had the best of it on the boards with 64 rebounds to 46 for the visitors. The Rebels had 23 assists and 11 turnovers, while Troy had 13 assists and 14 mishandles of the basketball.

The Rebels made the most of their points in the paint, outscoring Troy 54 to 20 inside.

Junior Terrence Watson did not play. He turned an ankle in practice two days ago and hopes to be ready for New Mexico Saturday.

Junior Wesley Jones was not at the game because of a death in his family.

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