Rebs spread the wealth in exhibition win

Andy Kennedy put his team on the floor for public display for the first time this preseason and for the most part liked what he saw.

But he knows there's work to be done following the Rebels' 115-81 Friday afternoon win over North Alabama in exhibition play.

"This game exposed a lot of things that we as coaches talk about daily and the kids kind of roll their eyes," said the third-year UM head coach. "Our defensive intensity and the things we're doing as it relates to position are things that need a lot of work. But that's understandable when you're dealing with such a young team."

Perhaps the most impressive aspect was the amount of quality players Kennedy kept sending into the game.

"I think everybody can see that we're a pretty talented team and we have a number of different options," he said. "I was trying to be judicious and give everybody an opportunity to play. That was my goal."

Mission accomplished. There are 15 players on the Rebel roster, and all 15 scored.

Seven of them scored in double figures, led by junior college transfer DeAundre Cranston, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior who scored 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 three-point baskets and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. He claimed four rebounds and said he was comfortable out there for his first time in a Rebel uniform.

"It was great. I just wanted to help my team out," said Cranston, one of the players being counted on to replace three departed big men from last year – Dwayne Curtis, Kenny Williams, and Jermey Parnell. "They're going to need me to contribute, and I'm doing whatever I can to contribute to the team.

Others scoring were as follows: Malcolm White, Terrance Henry, and Terrico White all with 14 each, Murphy Holloway with 13, David Huertas with 12, Chris Warren with 11, Eniel Polynice and Will Bogan with 4 each, Zach Graham, Trevor Gaskins, and Ryan Brown with 3 each, Kevin Cantinol with 2, and Patrick Spach and Michael Halford with 1 point apiece.

Kennedy was disappointed in a couple of areas, especially taking care of the basketball. The Rebels had 20 turnovers.

"Turning it over too much is an area of concern," he said. "But a lot of that can be contributed to subbing them in and out, and that made it tough to find an offensive rhythm.

"And then our personal fouls were ridiculous," he continued, noting that the Rebels were whistled for 30 of them and had two players, Terrance Henry and Kevin Cantinol, foul out, and two more players with four fouls at game's end – Murphy Holloway and Will Bogan. "We were just fouling and we had two interior guys foul out, 10 personal fouls in 26 total minutes between them. But it's the first time they've gone against anybody but their teammates in a game-like setting. So these are things we can learn from."

But he said the positives outweighed the negatives in this one.

"You score 115 points, I don't care who you're playing, you've got some weapons," he said.

The Rebels began to pull away late in the first half and led 50-37 on a Cranston three-pointer. The lead was 52-43 at intermission.

In the second half it didn't take all that long for the Rebels to complete their mission as a trey by Terrico White at the midway point of the second period gave Ole Miss a 22-point lead at 85-63. The advantage continued to grow and the final margin of 34 points was the Rebs' largest of the contest.

"This game was actually about a week earlier than we normally play it," Kennedy said of the first exhibition. "Typically we would have the better part of three weeks under out belt. But based on us trying to do it in conjunction with a home football game, this is when we had to play it. In hindsight, and I told the team this, I'm glad it worked out this way."

Ole Miss outrebounded North Alabama 57-27, shot 57 percent for the game (42-74), 79 percent from the free throw line (23-29), and 35 percent from three-point range (8-23). The Rebels held UNA to 37 percent shooting (26-70).

The Rebels continue preseason practice next week and then travel to Birmingham, Ala., to play UAB in a closed exhibition contest on Saturday, Nov. 8.

The official season opener is Friday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. in Oxford against Arkansas State under new head coach and former LSU head coach John Brady.

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