Rebs work early to get back to winning ways

The Ole Miss men's basketball team practiced at 6:30 a.m. today. But it wasn't punishment. They are simply trying to get better.

"That was the first thing he told us," said junior forward Terrence Watson of Coach Andy Kennedy. "This is not punishment. We're just trying to get back to our winning ways, get back to the basics and winning."

And so it goes for a team that's lost three of five games and two in a row. Kennedy reiterated Watson's assessment.

"Just changing pace a little bit, trying to go through some things we need to get corrected," the second-year Rebel coach said.

Kennedy said he's had some time to look back at the loss to MSU.

"After looking at the tape, obviously we didn't play very well and I thought Mississippi State was exceptional," he said. "That's a dangerous combination."

Kennedy said there are still too many areas his team is not doing well in, and that's concerning.

"We're at a point in the season to where I wish I could point to one thing that needs correcting," he said, his team now 15-3 overall and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play. "We've got a lot of areas that we need to get better in."

Kennedy said he's still looking to get more production out of the No. 2 guard spot.

"We're open to anything," he said, and mentioned he is not limited to just David Huertas and Trevor Gaskins. "There are other options. We play six guys on the perimeter. With Brian Smith and Chris Warren, we have some size problems defensively. We may have to move Chris off the ball to play Brian a little bit more. We've got Trevor and Zach (Graham) and David and EP (Eniel Polynice). So we'll continue to mix and match and try to find something that works."

Jermey Parnell's injury remains a problem, and he is still some time away from being effective.

"Day to day," Kennedy said of Parnell, who turned an ankle in the first SEC game at Tennessee. "I don't anticipate him playing this week, because he just hasn't been able to sustain it in practice. I'm not going to do anything until he's ready. Because if he doesn't feel physically ready, he's not going to play with the edge that we need him to play with."

Kennedy said Kenny Williams seems to have suffered from Parnell's absence in recent games.

"Kenny was really good early," he said. "When JP went down, he seems to be getting into foul trouble early. So it's a double whammy. We're limited in our depth as far as experience goes. Malcolm (White) has been playing pretty good. He's learning. Unfortuntely he's learning against high level guys. With Kenny in foul trouble and not having JP, we're just having to deal with it."

Ole Miss hosts Vanderbilt, 17-3 and 2-3, Wednesday at 7 p.m. Kennedy said he's looking for the older guys to once again come through and lead.

"We need our upperclassmen to take hold of the team," he said. "You always look to your older guys to do that, and that's what we've challenged them to do."

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