Rebs on the road again

Was the win over Mississippi State the one that gets this Ole Miss basketball team headed somewhere again? We should know more tonight. Ole Miss plays at LSU at 5 p.m.

The Rebels played their best game in a month Wednesday night, beating the arch-rival 74-63 in Oxford. Was this Rebel team the one we saw in November and December? Did they get some things straightened out to head down the stretch? Or did they simply feed off the crowd, play better, and win?

There are always questions without immediate answers in sports. Some are more difficult to find than others.

One comes up again today. Can the Rebels win on the road? With three road games left - LSU, Kentucky, and Georgia - time's running out. They'll give it another shot at the Pete Maravich Assmebly Center.

Ole Miss (18-7, 4-7 SEC) needs wins to make it to the NCAA Tournament. LSU (9-16, 2-9) is playing for pride, at least until they get to the SEC Tournament where the Tigers will try to make a run.

The Rebels have no SEC road success to show on this year's resume'. They have to get one - or more. Dwayne Curtis says he hopes that is today. Following the big win on Wednesday, the Rebels take some confidence to Baton Rouge.

"There's some pressure off and a few more smiling faces," Curtis said. "That 'W' helped. It had been tough on us lately."

Curtis said he knows the newcomers were wondering what was going on. As a senior, he had a better idea, not necessarily from an indepth situation as to why this particular team wasn't playing as well. But he knew the potential of losing some games and how tough things are in this league. He's been there.

"I don't like what we've been through, but I've been through it before," he said. "Those freshmen are just experiencing those type things for the first time. The win Wednesday night was a chance to get things right again and get back some confidence."

Indeed it was. It couldn't have come at a better time or against a more important foe. Now their attention turns to an LSU team that has played some good basketball this season with little to show for it, a team that is under the direction of interim coach Butch Pierre after former head coach John Brady was released four games ago. The Tigers are 1-3 under Pierre.

While there's the usual scouting reports on the Tigers and the normal game preparation for the next opponent, the Rebels are clearly focused on what is happening in their camp.

The losing of the recent past has caused them to re-evaluate the things going on from the inside out and back again. But that's the way things are supposed to be handled, not just when they are rocky but when the sailing is smooth.

"As bad as I hate to admit it, this adversity we've been dealing with has been good for me," Andy Kennedy said. "It changed some things that probably needed changing for me and the way that I approach these young guys. It was good for our team if it made us stronger, and that remains to be seen."

We should all know a little more after this game, although seeking all the answers in one game, like Wednesday night or even tonight, is not necessarily seeing the whole picture.

"You have to build on it," Kennedy said of the win over the Bulldogs. "We've shown capable. We've just got to be able to take the right approach."

While the team has been a work in progress this season with so many newcomers, so has the approach the coaches have taken in molding them into one successful unit. It's a journey that continues against the Tigers and moves on to the final four regular season games and into postseason.

It's been a long time since October and the official start of practice for the 2007-08 season. The Rebels are hoping for several more weeks of this one.

"You have to be aware of the day to day grind," Kennedy said. "It's a long season."

A win today would certainly be a positive step for a team perhaps headed somewhere again.


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