Rebels need road win at Alabama

Coaches aren't going to get cornered calling any game a "must win." Andy Kennedy's a coach, so he didn't when asked about the Alabama game tonight being just that – a must win.

"We all want to say we've gotta win this one or that one," he said. "I understand that. We've got eight games left, four at home and four on the road. We‘ve got to win some games in order for us to have a chance to make an argument in March. Alabama's the next one. Will it be easy? Heck no. They're all hard."

But Kennedy also believes his Rebels, 17-5 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference play, can win it.

"If we go in and take the right approach, I believe so," he said of having a chance to get a road win over an Alabama team that is 13-11 and 2-7. "I think we've shown we're capable. In all of our SEC games, except Mississippi State who had their way with us and Vandy who we had our way with, everything else has been pretty close. LSU and Florida victories, and all of our losses. The Arkansas game, as ugly as it was early, everything has been close. We've got to get some guys performing to the level that we know they're capable."

The players agree that this is a big game, that it is one they can win, but only if they play up to their capabilities.

"We need a road win," David Huertas said. "We've got to go play hungry. We've got to get more wins."

"We've got to get this one," Kenny Williams said without hesitation. "We know we have to win one on the road and we really need two. We've made it tough on ourselves, so we have to go get this one."

One key factor in the rest of the Rebels' season will be Jermey Parnell. Now that he has returned, and hopefully for the stretch run, the Rebels will be better. They've shown with him out of action that they are not the same team.

"His presence means the post position is better," said fellow post player Dwayne Curtis. "The energy that he brings is important. He brings a lot to us."

Defensively the Rebels have struggled and need to improve down the stretch. Kennedy believes his players must place a greater importance on becoming better defensive players if they are indeed going to do so, both individually and collectively.

"Inability to guard the bounce," he says is one problem.

Youth is also one.

"And I think want-to is another," he said. "I think it's understanding the importance of sitting down and taking on a personal challenge not to allow my guy to break me down off penetration."

The Rebels got only their second win in a month Monday night when they beat Presbyterian College 66-55. Kennedy said the best thing to come out of that game was the W.

"We just threw it in to DC and he scored - when he caught it. The rest of the guys were just kinda no-shows." Kennedy said, mentioning there were not a lot of positives to be taken from that one – but one.

"It was a win," he said.

Which is what the Rebels needed then and obviously need again tonight.

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