The Tigers do play Arkansas twice, another responded, looking at the score as Kentucky annihilated the Razorbacks. So, yes, there will be some chances for victory, and not just against the Hogs. If the Tigers play the way they did against the Rebels Saturday, minus some critical turnovers, they'll get a win or two, maybe more.
Andy Kennedy was asked after the game, "You really feel good about this win, don't you?"
"Sure I do. I've never seen a bad win," the fourth-year Rebel head coach said after his 22nd-ranked squad beat LSU 73-63.
Kennedy tried to put it in perspective briefly. People forget, he said, that LSU was the SEC champion last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tourney. Ole Miss hadn't won here, he added, in seven seasons.
Beyond that, he had several players step up when others weren't able to do so. Terrico White was frustrated early, it appeared, and got two quick fouls. He sat almost three-fourths of the first half. When he came back in the second half, he picked up another foul fairly early and looked out of sync. He scored one point in 19 minutes, not even close to his 16 points a game average for the season.
And Murphy Holloway, after showing back up against South Carolina with 14 points and 12 rebounds, disappeared again from the stat sheet with only two points and two boards in 19 minutes. But the sophomore forward took quite a spill in the first half and actually went to the locker room with an injured wrist. He returned to the game and half his minutes came in the second half. His wrist obviously was a factor in his limited production, and they'll see Monday if there is any concern that it might take a few days to heal up.
Kennedy said he thought freshman center Reginald Buckner's eight points on 4-for-4 shooting, nine rebounds, and two blocks in 20 minutes might have been his best game to date.
Sophomore Terrance Henry has begun to show real signs of consistent play and stepping up big in games. His buzzer-beating 3-pointer just before halftime was only one example. He was 5-of-6 from the floor including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. He had a key block in the game, as did DeAundre Cranston who made his presence known.
Trevor Gaskins got eight points and so did Zach Graham. The Rebels' depth clearly showed in this one, especially against a team with little of it. Ole Miss got 28 points from its bench; the Tigers eight from theirs.
The Rebels took advantage of numerous and timely Tiger turnovers which they converted into points, especially at the end of each half.
Tasmin Mitchell noticed.
"Ole Miss did a nice job capitalizing off our turnovers," the veteran senior said.
Basketball can often be an ugly game in this day and age. Fans looking for methodical play, a consistent and patient offense, and a contest without multiple miscues may continue to seek but not find.
Still, as Kennedy said, wins are never ugly, really. Just losses.
"We've got a certain standard we talk about every day as to how we feel like we have to play to be successful," he said. "No. 1 on that is we have to compete at a very high level. I think for the most part this team has done that. Everything else is correctable, missing free throws, bobbling balls, lack of execution at times. Those things are correctable. We can go back and work on those the next three days. As long as we keep competing, this team will have a chance."
Among Ole Miss' non-conference victims, lest we forget, are Top Ten team Kansas State, which this past week beat No. 1 Texas but slipped Saturday and lost for only the third time in 19 games when Oklahoma State (15-4) came calling. Upset hangovers can often be tough to overcome, although I only have to guess that's what happened to the Wildcats against a good Cowboys team, which won 73-69.
UTEP, which stopped Memphis' lengthy conference winning streak of 64 games last week on the Tigers' homecourt, lost to Ole Miss earlier. Indiana isn't what it used to be or will be again. But beating a Hoosier team by 18 points like the Rebels did early this season is noteworthy.
Villanova, which beat Ole Miss, is ranked No. 4 nationally this week. The Wildcats, whose only loss came against cross-town rival Temple, is 7-0 in the Big East for the first time.
So the resume' toward March continues to build. The Rebels, 15-4 overall and 3-2 in SEC play, head to Auburn now for a Thursday game at 8 p.m. to see if they can add even more to it.
Never A Bad Win
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