Rebel bigs work in progress

John Brady has seen Ole Miss basketball teams at least twice a year for many seasons. Last Friday night he saw another one.

The Rebels managed to pull away from the fight that was the Ole Miss-Arkansas State season opener, a 65-52 Rebel win. The ASU head coach, formerly the LSU head coach, said, when asked his opinion, that the Rebels are talented but have work to do, especially inside.

"They're young around that front line," said Brady, who will host Ole Miss in Jonesboro next season, then return to Oxford for game three of this three-game set the following year. "I think when they move up against more physical, experienced players, that front line's going to have to grow up pretty quick. Their perimeter play will give them a chance."

It's the opposite of last season when everybody was talking about the Rebel "bigs" and how they'd have to carry the team until the new guards got ready. That happened pretty quickly, and Ole Miss won 24 games.

Brady said he remembered those inside Rebels and doesn't miss them.

"Those guys last year (Curtis, Williams, Parnell) were brutes," he said. "They'd break your neck. They were hard as rocks. This team is going to be different, and I think it's going to be an adjustment. They're long and athletic but they're just young and don't yet understand the physicalness of teams night after night in the SEC and what it's going to be about. It's all a learning process for Andy's team and our team."

Andy Kennedy's troops, who outrebounded Division II North Alabama 57-27 in an earlier exhibition contest, were outrebounded by the Red Wolves 43-42. Both teams claimed 15 offensive boards, while ASU's edge came with one more defensive rebound – 43 – than the Rebels, who had 42.

"They played with some size at the basket," Kennedy said of the visitors. "They were playing with some juniors and seniors. John's team does have experience. Those kids were a little tougher and quicker to the ball. I thought we seemed hesitant at times. We've got a lot of work to do and that's obvious. I've been doing this long enough to know that when you can win, you take it, try to learn from it, and move forward."

Malcolm White, the sophomore and only experienced D-I player along the front line for UM, started and had four points with six rebounds and two blocked shots in 27 minutes.

Freshman Terrance Henry started, scored seven points, and claimed six boards along with a block in 19 minutes.

Freshman Murphy Holloway was in for 11 minutes and was 3-for-3 shooting and 1-for-1 at the free throw line for seven points, along with three rebounds. JUCO junior DeAundre Cranston played 21 minutes, didn't score but had six rebounds. Redshirt freshman Kevin Cantinol played three minutes with no points, boards, or blocks.

The Rebels get another chance to improve when they host South Alabama Tuesday night at 7 at Tad Smith Coliseum.

The Jaguars and Rebels are wrapping up a three-game series, with Ole Miss winning in Mobile 82-72 two years ago and in Oxford 81-78 last season.

USA opened its season last Friday night with an 87-79 win against Alcorn State.

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