Kennedy, Rebs get a break between games

Ole Miss got a couple of days off from basketball earlier this week. By Tuesday things were back in full swing as they focused on Mississippi State and put the loss to Auburn behind them.

"We needed a break to get some things corrected and for JP and DC to get better," said Coach Andy Kennedy, whose team is 15-2 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play. "So the timing of this is pretty good actually."

Jermey Parnell didn't play at all in the Rebels' 80-77 upset loss to unranked Auburn. Dwayne Curtis was on crutches prior to the Rebels' departure for Auburn, played in the contest, but was limping visibly Sunday. Both are projected to play against Mississippi State in Starkville Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. It's hopeful they will be ready.

Eniel Polynice said Tuesday that a couple of days away and with no game Wednesday should be good for this team at this time.

"We need this week to regroup," the sophomore said. "We can't feel like we're the No. 15 ranked team in the country and just come out and show up and beat teams. We have to play hard like every other team. Teams are looking to beat us now. We have to be ready."

One player who struggled at Auburn and has at times this season is David Huertas. Kennedy said the sophomore continues to be a key component of this team.

"He obviously has not played up to his potential," Kennedy said. "He's had his moments. But if you had told me we'd be 15-2 and nationally ranked with the production he's put up, I'd be most surprised. Having said that, we've been fortunate to have gotten production from other people. We chart every game and the shots that we take. Most of David's shots we would take again. It's unfortunate he is just not in very good rhythm. But we're going to stay with him."

Kennedy said Huertas is but only one aspect of this year's squad with room to improve.

"There's a lot of growth potential on this team," he said. "I think DC has been pretty consistent in his performance. We have to do an even better job of trying to utilize him more, and he has to take on more. It takes a lot more effort to get more shots, most especially when you're an interior guy that's a marked man. So we have to help him and he has to help us.

"Chris (Warren) has been a surprise in his production," Kennedy continued. "But with everybody else across the board, I just see huge areas of growth potential. And Chris will grow, too. He's only played 17 games here."

Kennedy said defense is an area where the Rebels must pick it up even more as the season moves ahead if they are to continue to be successful.

"That's our biggest lapse, most especially since we've gotten into league play," he said. "I don't think we're very fundamental defensively. We've played, in fairness to the guys, in spurts pretty good. We've got to be able to sustain it. We're still trying to figure out an identity as it relates to different lineups. And again, because of our youth and many of them having only played four games at the SEC level, they're getting accustomed to it all. Eniel (Polynice) has been through it. David (Huertas) has also but sat out last year. They're guarding good players and if you make mistakes, good players will take advantage of it. I hope we're learning that."

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