Natural Progression

Having been named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season, forward Murphy Holloway has flashed moments of brilliance during his first year in Oxford. Read about it inside.

With each passing game, a similar stat line always seems to follow freshman Murphy Holloway.

While it may be too early in declaring him Mr. Double-Double, Holloway has posted three consecutive efforts with double digit points and rebounds, making him one of the more formidable players Ole Miss has to offer.

And he's only going to get better.

"He could be a tremendous player," said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. "He has all the physical tools. He's 6-7, with great length, and is a big, broad-shouldered guy. He was one of the last guys to arrive on campus.

"When you get a full summer of weight training and the time to really make some physical growth, the sky's the limit. He has a great skill-set."

After a strong performance against Georgia, it's hard to doubt Kennedy's assessment.

The dynamic newcomer is peaking at just the right moment, while proving relentless in the paint. He got to the rim at will against the Bulldogs, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The 6-foot-7 forward has consistently shown a knack for physicality, proving unafraid when pitting his game against the other great players in the Southeastern Conference.

"He's got a nose for the ball. He's always around the ball and active," Kennedy said. "(In scouting), what we try to look at is not so much your first jump, but your second jump or third jump. Those jumps are what separate him. He's able to get hands on balls before people have a chance to react. He uncoils real quickly. Very quick off his feet."

Described by the coaches as an undersized post, the left-handed Holloway has had to find ways to separate himself from defenders when playing down low.

Being a southpaw certainly helps, as opponents are usually more accustomed to guarding righties according to Kennedy.

"I think it helps you," he said. "I think it's a natural advantage, simply because it's unusual; especially in the post. I wish he would be a little better with his back to the basket, which I think he will in time, but I think it's a natural advantage – to a post player especially."

However, Kennedy said there's no difference when scouting a lefty.

"It's no different as coaches," Kennedy continued. "It's a matter of the player reading shoulders and being on the right side. It's different for him because, typically, you're always playing left shoulder. So when you turn, now all the sudden you have to play right shoulder and it's a different feel for players."

Holloway believes being left-handed has helped his game.

"It helps me a lot. Being left handed is a little bit of an advantage. I go left all the time, unless I have to finish right. I see that a lot and take advantage of it," he said.

He'll have to rely on those innate abilities Wednesday, as Ole Miss trips to Auburn for a crucial SEC matchup.

Having won five of their last seven games, the Rebels stand as controllers of their own destiny. A road win over the Tigers is significant towards the team's postseason resume and would help continue the momentum built in recent weeks.

Auburn swept the season series with a pair of upset victories a year ago, but the Rebs took the last meeting in Oxford 78-59 on Feb. 4.

"We played good defense, but we also played at home," said Holloway. "We play better at home than on the road, so we'll see when we go there."

The Tigers are winners of four of their last five and are tied for with Ole Miss for third in the SEC West with a 6-6 league record.

They're also 4-2 at home in league play and have won each of the last three such outings over Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi State.

"They're playing good," Kennedy explained. "They've got some seniors that have played integral roles. They were playing the same roles my young guys are as freshmen, now they're seniors and are playing with a great sense of urgency you want your seniors to play with down the stretch."

Holloway says it's hard for him and his teammates to not be excited about the prospects of playing in the postseason.

"We don't really talk about it too much. But all the guys, we look forward to playing in the postseason. I think it is (a possibility). We just got to work hard and stay focus," he closed.

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