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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Feb. 24-March 2, 2015

Track & Field

- Ole Miss got SEC titles from Jalen Miller (60m), Daniel Bulmer (mile) and the distance medley relay, and the Rebels achieved their best SEC indoor finish since 1984.

- The Ole Miss men scored 62 points to finish fourth in the team standings, their third-best result in school history and best since tying for third 31 years ago. The team's 62 points were also their most at an SEC indoor meet since that year.

- Overall on the weekend, Ole Miss snagged three SEC titles, two runners-up and two school records. The only other time the Rebels won three titles at the SEC indoor meet was 1983.

- The Rebels' success was notable because 20 of the team's 44 participants were competing in their first SEC Championships, and the men were without injured distance standouts Sean Tobin and Robert Domanic.

- Miller has won every 60-meter race in which he's lined up this year, and captured the school's first ever SEC crown in the event with a time of 6.56 on Saturday.

- Bulmer and Craig Engels finished 1-2 in the men's mile at 4:03.28 and 4:03.76, respectively. Bulmer is the first SEC mile champion in Ole Miss history.

- Bulmer and Engels teamed with Dameon Morgan and Holland Sherrer to capture to Rebels' second straight SEC distance medley relay title. Crazy enough, it was four different men than last year's championship relay team.

- The women were highlighted a pair of school records. Freshman Brooke Feldmeier earned a silver medal in the 800 meters with a school-record time of 2:04.34, and senior Fabia McDonald broke her own record in the pentathlon (4,168) to place sixth.

Women's Basketball

- Ole Miss closed the regular-season with a 2-1 record in the final week of action, which included wins over No. 11/13 Kentucky and LSU before losing to instate rival, Mississippi State in the regular season finale. 

- Ole Miss concludes the regular season with a 17-12, 7-9 SEC record -- the most overall and SEC wins since 2009-10. 

- The Rebels, who were picked to finish 14th in the preseason SEC poll, finished tied for seventh and earned the No. 8 seed in the SEC Tournament -- its highest seed since 2009-10. 

- Tia Faleru posted double-doubles in two of the final three games of the regular season. She now has 13 double-doubles on the season and 33 career double-doubles. It is the second consecutive season the senior has recorded 10 ore more double-doubles after entering her junior campaign with just five career double-doubles. 

- Ole Miss' win over Kentucky gave the Rebels two wins over a ranked opponent this season and gave Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell his first win over his former team. The last time Ole Miss defeated two ranked foes was in 2009-10 when they had wins over No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 LSU. Additionally, the win over a top 15 foe was the first in the last 20 tries. 

Baseball

- The No. 18 Ole Miss baseball team went 2-2 last week with all four games being decided by one run

- The Rebels started with a 2-1 victory over Arkansas State in their first midweek game of the season.

- Sophomore left-hander Evan Anderson picked up the win, going five innings and allowing just one run on one hit and two walks while also adding four strikeouts to his stat line. Freshman Will Stokes closed out the game to earn the first save of his career.

- After the midweek victory, the Rebels hit the road for the first time this season, taking on an undefeated UCF team that was ranked 15th in the nation.

- In the series opener Friday night, Ole Miss saw the Knights rally from a four-run deficit before a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth lifted UCF to the 5-4 decision.

- Errol Robinson's diving catch and flip for a double play was No. 2 on Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays Friday night, Feb. 27.

 - Due to inclement weather on Saturday, Ole Miss and UCF played in a doubleheader on Sunday. It marked the third straight weekend the Rebels played a doubleheader, and for the third time, Ole Miss split the two games. The Rebels fell, 3-2, in a shortened 7-inning game one before claiming the series finale, 4-3.

- The Sunday victory gave UCF its first loss of the season. Florida natives Tate Blackman, Colby Bortles and Sikes Orvis recorded all four RBI in the win. Blackman doubled in the first run of the game, and Bortles hit his second homer of the season. Orvis also played long ball with a solo shot of his own before drawing a bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth that brought in the winning run.

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss dropped a pair of games last week versus Georgia and at LSU, snapping its school record four-game SEC road winning streak. 

- With one more win, Ole Miss will reach 20 wins for the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons before Kennedy's arrival. 

- The Rebels have 35 wins against SEC foes over the last three years trailing only Florida and Kentucky in the SEC. 

- Ole Miss ranks fourth in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 77.6 percent of its attempts. The Rebels have hit 326 of their last 416 (.784) attempts from the line. Junior guard Stefan Moody leads the SEC and ranks fifth in the nation shooting 91.2 percent from the free throw line.  

- Head coach Andy Kennedy is tied with Alabama's Wimp Sanderson for the third-most wins in SEC history with by a coach in his first nine years in the league at one school with 190. He trails only Kentucky's Joe B. Hall (205) and Florida's Billy Donovan (193). 

- Junior guard Stefan Moody averaged 25.5 ppg and knocked down 14 3-pointers in wins over MSU and Tennessee en route to his second SEC Player of the Week honor of the month. Moody is averaging 19.6 ppg over his last nine games and leads the SEC in scoring in league play at 18.4 ppg. 

- Senior guard Jarvis Summers is tied for the lead the league in assists in SEC play at 5.3/game and has posted 75 assists in his last 13 games. 

- Summers is the SEC active career leader in points (1,580), assists (500), minutes (3,730) and wins (82), and is just the fifth player in SEC history with 1,500 career points and 500 career assists.

Men's Tennis

- Ole Miss rose to No. 10 in the ITA National Rankings last week, their highest ranking since ending the 2013 season in the top 10. The Rebels finished the week 4-0 including wins over Tulane and No. 16 Vanderbilt to improve to 9-2 overall, 1-0 in the SEC.

- Senior Nik Scholtz went a combined 5-0 in doubles and singles on the week, including wins over the No. 14 ranked and No. 9 ranked players in singles.  His come-from-behind win over No. 9 Gonzales Austin clinched the Rebels' 4-0 victory against the Commodores.  He improved to 7-1 at No. 1 singles.

- Freshman Grey Hamilton came up big in his first SEC match, serving twice to stay in it at No. 3 doubles and then hitting a forehand winner down the line at 5-5 in the tiebreaker, setting up Scholtz' to serve it out for the first point of the match.

- The Rebels are a combined 14-3 at the two spots in the lineup, as junior Stefan Lindmark owns a 7-2 mark at No. 2 singles. He won both his doubles and singles to help in the win over Vanderbilt.

- The Rebels have now won 10 of the last 11 meetings against Vanderbilt.

Softball

- Ole Miss is coming off a 4-1 performance at the Felsberg Invitational hosted by FIU this past weekend in Miami.

- The Rebels' 12-5 start is the best through 17 games since posting the same mark to open the 2010 season.

- With a pair of one-run wins this past weekend, the Rebels have played in seven one-run games with a 5-2 record.

- Ole Miss has played 18 consecutive games on the road and will play 21-of-22 on the road to open the season.

- The Rebels have four players hitting over the .350 mark, paced by sophomore OF Miranda Strother at a .537 clip.

- Sophomore P Emily Gaitan helped lead the Rebels at FIU, posting a 3-1 record and is now 7-1 with a 1.53 ERA.

Women's Tennis

- The Ole Miss women rose to No. 15 in the rankings last week, their highest ranking since 1999.

- The Rebels opened SEC play on the road at No. 25 Kentucky and No. 13 Vanderbilt and lost a tight match to the Wildcats, 4-3, before dropping a 6-1 decision to the Commodores to close out the road trip.

- Senior Julia Jones, ranked No. 14, went 1-1 in singles and picked up her 93rd career last Friday in the loss to Kentucky. She is now 19-5 overall and 9-2 at No. 1 singles.

Rifle

- Ole Miss hosted the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships this past weekend and finished fifth overall with a 4613 aggregate.

- Freshman Jessica Haig led the Rebels with a personal best 579 in smallbore followed by a 590 in air rifle.  She finished with the 11th best combined score in her first conference championships.

- Sophomore Sarah Emery shot a career-best 584 in air rifle.

Kennedy, Rebels Look to Flush LSU Loss

BATON ROUGE, La. -- With an opportunity to perhaps lock itself into the NCAA Tournament, or at the very least enhance its resume, Ole Miss lost back-to-back games for the first time all season, falling on the road at LSU on Saturday afternoon after dropping a home contest against Georgia on Wednesday night.

The Rebels used a 12-0 run to take a 26-15 lead with 5:57 left in the first half. The Tigers cut the lead to 27-23 going into halftime and opened the second half on a 13-2 run to take a 36-29 lead with 15:14 left. 

Ole Miss got to within four on three separate occasions, but they were unable to string enough plays together on both ends of the court to get any closer the rest of the way in a 73-63 loss in Baton Rouge.

"We knew coming in, from a length and talent standpoint, that if this game was pretty, it was not going to be good for the Rebels," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We needed to make it ugly and dirty it up. In the first half, we did a good job of that, keeping them off-balance and not letting them for us with second-chance points, but the margin shouldn't have been four. We should have been up eight, nine, 10, 11, but we didn't close the half very well."

"In the second half, when you have opportunities on the road, you better take advantage of them. We didn't; they did."

Stefan Moody led the Rebels with 15 points, but he was just 3-for-17 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Along with Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White, the Ole Miss big three combined for just 25 points on 7-for-29 shooting.

"We have been in a lot of close games," Kennedy said. "Tonight notwithstanding, we have been very competitive in almost every game, a possession here or possession there, and it's really been the timeliness of Stefan Moody. It's not as if Jarvis and Snoop don't have their moments, but we have struggled in a number of regards with manufacturing offense."

Entering Saturday, Ole Miss was 17-3 in games in which it shot 40 percent of better from the field, with the only losses coming to Dayton, Kentucky and Georgia, all road games, and three games decided by a combined 12 points.

The Rebels did not reach that benchmark, as they shot 38.3 percent from the field, including 4-for-14 from 3-point range, and 13-for-21 from the free throw line, and they committed 17 turnovers, their most in a game since committing 18 in a road win at Arkansas on Jan. 17.

"Why is that?," said Kennedy, referring to the benchmark. "It's because we make free throws at a high rate and we don't turn it over. Today, we shoot under 40 percent, we didn't make three throws, and we turned it over."

Ole Miss, now 19-10 overall and 10-6 entered Saturday as the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament and a No. 8 or No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and with the loss to LSU, they fall to the No. 6 seed in the SEC Tournament and will likely see a fall in their seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The last two losses, notwithstanding, Ole Miss remains 8-7 against the RPI top 100, including a 3-5 mark against the RPI top 50, with wins over No. 20 Arkansas, No. 31 Texas A&M and No. 39 Oregon. 

When the new bracket projections come out, the Rebels will likely see their name in the field, although closer to the close line, going into their final two regular-season games on the road at Alabama on Tuesday and then back home against Vanderbilt next Saturday. 

"They're disappointed," Kennedy said. "It's the first time all year we have lost games in a row. They're disappointed. It took me a little bit longer (in the locker room) because now I'm playing psychologist, and the reality is we didn't play well today. We lost against a good LSU team. We have to flush it. We have a Tuesday swing and we have to get ready and close strong in Week 9 (of SEC play)."

QUOTABLE: "You have to be honest, but at the same time, there's not going to be a drill we can do tomorrow to change some of the things we do. We are who we are. Guys who are struggling know they're struggling. I'm a big believer in owning it. Let's own it and let's try to figure out how to fix it. I have played this game and I have coached this game now for number of years. You fix it by seeing the ball go in the basket. You don't allow the negative to weight you down. Your self-talk has to positive. It's easier said than done, when things aren't going well, and you have to man up and close strong. That's what we're going to do." - Andy Kennedy

Despite the most recent home loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field, as the Rebels put their school record four-game SEC road winning streak on the line when they travel to LSU on Saturday.

Ole Miss, 10-3 in games away from Tad Smith Coliseum and 8-6 against the RPI top 100, Oregon, looks to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume with a road win at LSU, ranked No. 55 in the latest NCAA RPI.

"We better play better," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We better play like we're playing for our NCAA Tournament lives because we are. We have to play with a hunger and a desire. I don't think it was an energy thing (against Georgia). Our energy was fine. You have to make some plays. When you get hit with contact, you have to go through it. When you have an open 3 off a ball reversal, you have to step up and make it. That's what NCAA Tournament teams do."

Georgia made those plays, while Ole Miss did not in the Rebels' loss earlier this week. The same was true in the Rebels' loss to LSU earlier this season. 

The Ole Miss big three -- Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White -- were a combined 14-for-45 from the floor, while the LSU duo of Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey each recorded double-doubles, and Keith Hornsby led all scorers with 21 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range.

Martin and Mickey average a combined 33.0 points and 19.1 rebounds per game, with both ranked among the top four players in the league in both categories. Mickey also leads the league in blocked shots (3.7/game), while Hornsby ranks fifth in the league in 3-pointers made (2.0/game), shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc.

"We'll battle," said Kennedy of Martin and Mickey. "We have to put bodies on bodies. They're big, fast and strong. They're a handful for everybody. We'll have a chance to try to game-plan and do the best we can to put our guys in position to be successful."

Coming into Saturday's matchup, Ole Miss, ranked No. 45 in the latest NCAA RPI, is a No. 8 seed in the latest brackets from ESPN's Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports' Jerry Palm and a No. 9 seed in the latest bracket from USA Today's Shelby Mast, while LSU is a No. 9 seed in Palm and Mast's brackets and a No. 10 seed in Lunardi's bracket.

Here's more on the Ole Miss-LSU matchup from CBS Sports' Chip Patterson in this week's Viewer's Guide:

The SEC schedule has not given tournament hopefuls like Ole Miss and LSU too many opportunities for quality wins. The winner gets a resume boost while the loser might sweat a little more on Selection Sunday.

Here's more on Ole Miss and LSU from ESPN's Eamonn Brenann in the latest Bubble Watch:

There's little reason to worry about the Rebels, even after this week's home loss to Georgia -- that's the kind of defeat you can manage when you've built this kind of good-if-not-great at-large case. That said, it doesn't get easier for Ole Miss in the next week. Saturday brings a trip to LSU and Tuesday involves a trip to Alabama. Ole Miss is in good shape right now, but two straight losses would introduce some measure of suspense in the last weeks before Selection Sunday.

The Tigers' past two weeks have been a success. Since narrowly falling to Kentucky in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Feb. 10, Johnny Jones' team is 3-1 with wins over Tennessee, Florida and Auburn. That may not get your blood pumping, but it's a more successful run than many fellow bubble teams have made in the same span, hence LSU's slight move off the cut line and into the bracket. With Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, the Tigers have NBA talent at two front-line positions, and they're playing top-20 efficiency defense nationally. They finish with Ole Miss and Tennessee at home before a trip to Arkansas next Saturday. They're trending in the right direction.

Despite winter weather that affected many teams, it was a busy week for Ole Miss athletics. The men's basketball completed a 2-0 week and has positioned itself well entering the last two weeks of the regular season. The baseball, women's basketball and softball teams also picked up big wins for the week, while a pair of former football players compete at the NFL Scouting Combine. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss men's basketball completed the Thursday-Saturday sweep, going on the road and defeating Mississippi State 71-65 on Thursday night and returning home and holding on for a 59-57 win over Tennessee on Saturday night. With the sweep, the Rebels have won eight of their last nine and sit in a tie with Texas A&M for third place in the SEC standings.

- Stefan Moody earned SEC Player of the Week honors earlier this season, and he's a near-look to earn the honor this week after averaging 25.5 points per game this past week, including a career-high 29 against Mississippi State. He was a volume and high-efficient scorer, wrapped in one, going 15-for-30 from the field, including 14-for-23 from 3-point range. His eight 3-pointers against Mississippi State were tied for the second-most in school history, two shy of tying Marshall Henderson's school record.

"I think he's locked in now," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I think he's embraced this leadership role. I think he likes the media talking about him. I think he likes the attention, and he knows if he makes more, he'll get more attention. So we're all for him making some more."

- Joining Moody in double figures against Tennessee was Jarvis Summers, who added 13 points, just his second game in double figures in his last seven games. However, he flashed moments of the all-league player he was last season, such as drawing a charge on the defensive end and then stepping confidently into a big 3-pointer on the offensive end.

"He definitely played with a little more pop," said Moody of Summers. "That's the word Coach (Kennedy) uses. Jarvis played very well."

"We gave him a round of applause that he's now off the milk carton," said Kennedy of Summers. "He's back." 

- A couple of impressive stats, noting the Rebels' success on the road: Their current four-game SEC road winning streak is the longest in school history. For the season, they are 10-3 away Tad Smith Coliseum, including a 7-3 record in true road games, a mark that includes road wins at Arkansas (No. 20 in the RPI) and Oregon (No. 56) and a neutral-site win over Cincinnati (No. 45).

- With a 2-0 week, Ole Miss is up to No. 32 in the latest NCAA RPI and up a line to a No. 8 seed in the latest bracketology from USA Today and CBS Sports. The Rebels have a chance to enhance their NCAA Tournament resume this week with a home game against Georgia (No. 38 in the RPI) on Wednesday night, followed by a road game at LSU (No. 54) on Saturday.

- For the second straight weekend, the No. 18 ranked Ole Miss baseball team took two of three, splitting a doubleheader on the last day of the weekend series after winning the series opener. Errol Robinson sealed the series win with a diving snag at shortstop, throwing to second to complete the line-out double play for the final out of a 3-2 win over Wright State.

- Despite taking a no-decision inn the Rebels' 3-1 loss in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, Brady Bramlett was the star of the weekend. After missing the end of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to injury, he leads the SEC in strikeouts with 19 through 12.0 innings, including a career-high 11 on Sunday. For more on Bramlett's brilliant start to the 2015 season, click here.

- Like Bramlett, Sam Smith took a no-decision, but head coach Mike Bianco was encouraged by what he saw from the senior right-hander, the most experienced starting pitcher in the SEC. Smith allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work.

"Sam felt good," Bianco said. "Really, I thought he pitched better. I know he didn't really get the results, but I thought the stuff was more what we talked about, pitching off the fastball more, pitching off the slider more. I thought he pitched better today. Obviously, the command was much better." 

- Ole Miss will be tested in the week ahead, playing five games in seven days, including their first road trip of the season, a three-game weekend series at UCF. Arkansas State, the Rebels' first midweek opponent on Tuesday, took two of three from No. 7 Louisville in a neutral-site series played in Emerson, Georgia, while UCF went 3-0 at the South Alabama Tournament, picking up wins over No. 15 Arkansas, No. 11 Maryland and host South Alabama.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball got a much-needed confidence boost, holding on for a 51-46 road win at Auburn, snapping a seven-game losing streak and clinching a .500 or better record for the season. It was the Rebels' second SEC road win of the season, the first time they have two won two league games on the road since 2009-10.

- Ole Miss, now 15-11 and 5-8 in SEC play, has three regular-season games remaining, all against likely NCAA Tournament teams. With the win over Auburn, the Rebels have clinched eligibility for an at-large berth in the Postseason NIT. As far as the NCAA Tournament, they have three opportunities to enhance their resume, starting Monday night with a home game against No. 10 Kentucky, a team they played to the wire on the road in Lexington earlier this season.

- The matchup with No. 10 Kentucky is the SEC Network Monday night game, as well as the seventh annual "Tickled Pink at the Tad Pad" event. Reb Talk will also be at the Tad Pad. it's a big night all the way around.

- The Ole Miss softball team was also affected by winter weather this week, as the Red and Blue Classic scheduled for this past weekend was cancelled due to inclement wether. Instead, Ole Miss played Memphis and Delaware at Petal High School, defeating both teams and improving to 8-4 on the season. 

- After playing their first 12 games on the road, first-year head coach Mike Smith and the Rebels play their home games on the season on Wednesday, hosting a doubleheader against Southern Miss beginning at 2 p.m.

- The No. 15 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team and No. 24 Ole Miss women's tennis team were both off this week, with the women's match against Lipscomb scheduled for Friday also postponed due to winter weather. Both teams open Southeastern Conference play this weekend.

- Former Ole Miss football players Senquez Golson (5-foot-9, 176 pounds) and Cody Prewitt (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) have been weighed and measured at the NFL Scouting Combine, and they are both scheduled to participate in on-field workouts on Monday. Stay tuned to NFL Network for coverage of the event, and we'll have more on blog Monday.

The men's basketball team marches on toward March, the baseball team opened the 2015 season with a series win over William & Mary and the softball team prepares for its home opener under first-year head coach Mike Smith. The winter sports are in full swing, while the spring sports have begun in earnest, so there are no shortage of thoughts and opinions on the week that was. Let's get into it:

- Valentine's Day was a busy day on the Ole Miss campus, with a baseball doubleheader, followed by a men's basketball nightcap, and Rebel Nation turned out in full force. Swayze Field was business as usual and will get better as the weather warms up, while the atmosphere at the Tad Pad was as electric as I can remember. It was fun spending the day with all y'all.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team saw its its six-game winning streak, as the Rebels were on the right side of a one-point game in a 62-61 win at Florida on Thursday and on the wrong side of a one-point game in a 71-70 loss to Arkansas on Saturday.

- Impressive Stat #1: It was the second winning streak of six games or better against SEC foes under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just three such winning streaks in the 71 years before Kennedy's arrival. 

- The Rebels have been a regular on SportsCenter top 10 plays this season, and Stefan Moody became the latest to make the highlight, landing the No. 4 spot on Thursday night with his game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.

- Where Ole Miss made the play in a one-point win over Florida, the Rebels did not make the play in a one-point loss to Arkansas. Ole Miss had the ball up 70-69 with less than a minute to play. The Rebels had an offensive possession to extend the lead, a defensive possession to secure the lead and a final offensive possession to regain the lead, but they could not make the play in any instance, while the Razorbacks made the play in each instance. It happens.

"We made the shot Thursday night (against Florida) in a highly-contested game," Kennedy said. "We missed the shot tonight, and Arkansas made the play. I told the team that I didn't think we lost the game; I thought Arkansas won it."

- The Rebels continue to get production from their ever-improving big men, highlighted by M.J. Rhett's 16-point, nine-rebound game against Arkansas, perhaps his best game in an Ole Miss uniform, as they won the rebounding battle, 45-31, a margin that included 21 offensive rebounds compared to nine for the Razorbacks.

- Since big games in wins over Florida and Mississippi State, Jarvis Summers has seen a dip in production, averaging 6.8 points and shooting 25 percent from the floor, including 2-for-12 from 3-point range, over the last five games. For the Rebels to reach their full potential and perhaps make a run in March, they need more of the Summers from last season.

"He has been hesitant," Kennedy said. "We've tried to do some things to get him to his strength, and we'll continue to do that." 

- Despite the one-point loss to Arkansas, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field as a No. 9 or No. 10 seed, depending on the projection, but a potential RPI landmine looms large this week. Ole Miss play Mississippi State, a team ranked No. 187 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA, on the road in Starkville, where the Rebels have not won since 2009.

- The No. 18 ranked Ole Miss baseball opened the 2015 season, taking two of three in a weekend series against William & Mary.  The Rebels showed a strong bounce-back, routing William & Mary 16-2 in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader after suffering an 8-1 loss in the first game of the doubleheader.

"The first game was disappointing, but it was encouraging to bounce back in game two," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We needed that effort from Bramlett to shut them down and let us swing. That's the knock against us. There are a lot of young guys playing, even though they played some last year. We have to take the punch and do something bad but not let it blow up."

- Impressive Stat #2: Ole Miss improves to 11-0-1 in weekend series to open the season under Bianco.

- J.B. Woodman, who moved to centerfield and the leadoff spot, is off to a fast start in his new role. He went 5-for-9 with three doubles, two runs scored and three RBI. Just as notable, he walked three times and did not strike out on the weekend.

"He's not your prototypical leadoff guy," Bianco said. "It's not that he can't lead-off and it's not that he doesn't have the skill-set to do that, but he also has a skill-set to hit a double and a home run. Some guys like Braxton Lee and Jordan Henry don't have that skill-set. You have to let (Woodman) swing, but he can also walk, steal bases and do a lot of different things."

- It will be interesting to watch how the weekend rotation evolves this season. Sam Smith took the loss in game two of the weekend series, while Brady Bramlett earned the win in the series-clincher and Sean Johnson, another candidate for a spot in the weekend rotation, worked out a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. There are three more weekends remaining, before the Rebels open SEC play on the road at No. 2 LSU.

"He couldn't get the ball into the strike zone," said Bianco of Smith's outing. "He had to stop throwing the two-seam fast ball and went to the four-seam fast ball. He basically had no other secondary pitch. It got away from him. Give credit to them. It was a just tough day, really uncharacteristic of him. Usually we're asking him to get the ball out of the strike zone and live on the edges. Today, he couldn't get close enough in there."

- ICYMI #1: Here's a link roundup of stories leading up to the start of baseball, including the 2015 walk out music and pre-SEC Ole Miss opponent capsules from Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com.

- ICYMI #2: Newsreel: Ole Miss Baseball 2015, shot with old-school film.

- Time is running out for the Ole Miss women's basketball team, as the Rebels fell short at home against No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday and on the road at Missouri on Sunday, a game they likely needed to move closer toward NCAA Tournament consideration. 

- Ole Miss, now 14-11 overall and 4-8 in SEC play, has four regular-season games remaining and then at least one game the SEC Tournament. With one more win, the Rebels can clinch an overall record of .500 or better and eligibility of an at-large berth in the Postseason WNIT. 

- As far as the NCAA Tournament, opportunities remain on the schedule, as Ole Miss plays three teams ranked in the top 65 of the RPI, including two in the top 30, and then there's the SEC Tournament.

- The Ole Miss softball team wrapped up its 10-game road swing to open the 2015 season, going 3-1 at the Battle at the Beach hosted by Coastal Carolina. First-year head coach Mike Smith and the Rebels return home to host the Red and Blue Classic at the Ole Miss Softball Complex, where they will play four games in three days, starting with Tennessee-Martin on Friday night (6 p.m. CT).

- The No. 19 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team went 1-2 on the weekend at the ITA National Team Indoor in Chicago, highlighted by a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 10 UCLA in consolation play on Saturday. It was the Rebels' second top-15 win of the season, and they rallied from the brink of defeat, despite losing the doubles point and Nik Scholtz, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, dropping his first singles match of the season.

- The No. 24 ranked Ole Miss women's tennis completed a sweep of Tulane and William & Mary over the weekend, improving to 8-1 on the season and equaling its best start since 1997, when the Rebels also started 8-1. Julia Jones, ranked No. 7 in the nation, dropped her first dual match, only her fourth loss overall this season. 

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2015

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss posted a perfect 2-0 record last week with a 79-73 home win over Mississippi State and  67-47 rout of Missouri on the road Saturday.

- Trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, senior guard Jarvis Summers exploded for 22 second-half points to power the Rebels past the Bulldogs. Summers finished with 22 points, one shy of his season high, all in the second half, to go along with a game-high seven assists. He went 4-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range, but he went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line. 

- Ole Miss routed the Tigers on the road Saturday behind 23 points from junior guard Stefan Moody. Summers added seven assists in the win and junior guard Martavious Newby pulled down nine boards. 

- Ole Miss leads the nation hitting 80.1 percent of its free throw attempts, which would also lead the NBA. The Rebels have hit 212 of their last 254 from the line (.835). If the season ended today, Ole Miss would post the second-best FT percentage by a team in SEC history trailing only Vanderbilt in 1974 (.802). The Rebels' 82.9 percent from the line in conference play would break the Commodores' 1974 record (.814). 

- Junior G Stefan Moody, who leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation shooting 91.7 percent (88-of-96). Moody has made 31-straight FTs dating back to the Arkansas game, which is six free throws shy of the SEC record of 37 for consecutive free throws made in conference play held former Rebel David Rhodes. 

- Head coach Andy Kennedy tied former Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury with the fourth-most wins by an SEC coach in his first nine years in the league at one school with 185.

Track & Field

- Led by superb sprinting from sophomore Jalen Miller, Ole Miss claimed three event victories, accomplished two school records and broke a significant meet record at the world-class Armory Track Invitational this weekend.

- Miller showed off his consistency and prowess in the 60 meters with more electrifying times this weekend. On Friday, he broke former Tennessee star Justin Gatlin's 2002 meet record of 6.56 when Miller clocked 6.55 in the semifinals to tie Mike Granger's all-time school record. He ranks third in the NCAA and sixth in the world with that personal-best time. Miller won Saturday's final in 6.59, despite a slow start and a slip out of the blocks. It was his sixth race of 6.60 or better this season. Only five other runners in the NCAA have run 6.60 or better at all.

- Senior Phillip Young leapt an indoor personal-best 52-8 not once but twice en route to the triple jump victory. It moves him up to No. 6 in the NCAA this year and fourth in school history.

- Sophomore Adam Aguirre tied for the high jump title with a clearance of 6-11.5.

- MJ Erb clocked a personal-best 8:07.54 in the 3,000 meters to break former All-American Barnabas Kirui's school record of 8:08.17 set in 2010. Erb placed fourth in the race, while eighth-place finisher Daniel Bulmer ran an indoor PR of 8:11.22 that ranks him third in the school record books.

- For the women, freshman Shannon Ray made the finals of the 60 meters after her semifinal time of 7.47 on Friday moved her up to ninth in school history. Fellow freshman Brooke Feldmeier had another strong run in the 800 with a time of 2:07.13 to finish third. Junior newcomer Britt Ummels did not lower her school mile record from last week, but had another solid performance with a time of 4:50.63 to place fifth.

- A portion of the Ole Miss team also traveled to Jonesboro, Arkansas, for the A-State Invitational. Jhorden Hunter claimed the 55-meter dash in 6.92 and Saga Barzowski won the mile in 5:07.71. Hunter's time of 6.92 ranks her third all-time in the school record books.

Women's Basketball

- The Rebels are 14-8, 4-5 SEC after dropping their last four games. The four-game losing streak is the longest of the season for Ole Miss. Ole Miss is looking for its first winning record since 2009-10 when they went 17-15 and reached the WNIT.

- Tia Faleru is making some noise in the record books. With her 20 rebounds on the week, she is now just 42 rebounds shy of 800 career rebounds. When she reached the milestone she will become one of just seven players in program history to record 1,000 points and 800 rebounds and will be the first to reach the milestone since Armintie Price who played at Ole Miss from 2003-07. Additionally, Faleru has scored in a 98 consecutive games dating back to her freshman season. 

- Ole Miss, which played on Super Bowl Sunday for the 17th consecutive season and the 20th time overall, moved to 6-14 after dropping a 77-59 game to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday. Ole Miss last won a game on Super Bowl Sunday on 2009-10 in triple overtime fashion in Baton Rouge with a 102-101 win over LSU.

- The Rebels struggled on offense against LSU, scoring just 41 points against the Tigers. Ole Miss' 41 points was a season-low and the fewest points scored in the Matt Insell era. Ole Miss is 5-8 when failing to reach 70 points, a mark they haven't reached in the last five games. 

Women's Tennis

 - No. 24 Ole Miss suffered its first loss of the season, dropping a 6-1 decision at No. 16 Oklahoma State Saturday.

- A bright spot in the loss, senior Julia Jones knocked off the No. 10 ranked player in straight sets to improve to 15-3 overall, 5-0 at No. 1 singles.  Jones earned her ninth ranked win of the year and now has 88 career victories.

The men's basketball team found some consistency, while the women's basketball will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak, as the teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. It's also the week of National Signing Day and the beginning of the Mike Smith Era for Ole Miss softball, and opening day for Ole Miss baseball is now less than two weeks away. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Throughout the season, head coach Andy Kennedy and the men's basketball team have talked about establishing some consistency, and of late, stacking wins together. Ole Miss did just that this past week, rallying to defeat Mississippi State 79-73 on Wednesday night and cruising to a 67-47 win at Missouri on Saturday afternoon. With three straight wins, it's the Rebels' first multi-game winning streak since Dec. 18-22 and their first three-game wining streak since Nov. 23-29.

- Against Mississippi State, Jarvis Summers led the way with 22 points, one shy of his season high, all in second half, including a key four-point play to effectively close out the win for Ole Miss. After going 0-of-2 from the field in nine first-half minutes, having picked up two early fouls, he finished 4-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 12-of-15 from the free throw line.

"When you watch Ole Miss play down the stretch, it's always Jarvis Summers making plays," said Mississippi State head coach of Summers. "He has an unbelievable ability to not get sped up or get caught up in the moment. He stays the same way throughout and that gives him an ability to make plays and be calm no matter the situation."

- Against Missouri, it was all Stefan Moody, who was the only Ole Miss player in double figures with 23 points, including a highlight-reel put-back dunk that Kennedy said not only invigorated him, but their whole team, as the Rebels outscored the Tigers 50-32 the rest of the way. Missouri got as close as 48-39 with 9:38 left, before Ole Miss answered with a 15-0 run over the next 6:31 to push the lead to 63-39 on the way to the 67-47 final.

- In addition to LaDarius White, the Rebels' third-leading scorer, who has come off the bench in 15 of their 21 games, Ole Miss has gotten lifts from Dwight Coleby, Terence Smith and Anthony Perez. The most surprising lift, if you take away his contributions last season, has been from Perez, who after scoring just 14 points in 82 minutes through the team's first 18 games, has scored 21 points in 47 minutes over the last three games.

"In the Florida game, we were really searching," said Kennedy of Perez. "Our frontcourt wasn't being as productive, and I went to him because I've seen what he can do. He was a valuable part of last year's team. He stepped up and made some plays. He led us in rebounding in 12 minutes of action, which tells me he was active. I gave him an opportunity (against Mississippi State), and he took advantage of it." 

- Free throw shooting also continues to be a storyline for the men's basketball team. The nation's leader in free throw percentage (80.1 percent), which would also lead the NBA, Ole Miss has hit 212 of its last 254 from the line, including 78.4 percent (29-of-37) against Mississippi State and 86.7 percent (13-of-15) against Missouri. The Rebels are led by Moody, who leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation shooting 91.7 percent (88-of-96) from the line. He has made 31 straight free throws, six free throws shy of the SEC record for consecutive free throws made in conference play.

- As of the most recent Bracketology from ESPN's Joe Lunardi (Jan. 29) and CBS Sports' Jerry Palm (Jan. 30), Ole Miss is the next-to-last and last team in the NCAA Tournament, one of six SEC teams in the field, and another, Tennessee, is among the first four out in both projections. Ole Miss plays five of those teams, four at home, starting with a home game against Texas A&M on Wednesday night.

- The SEC, as the Associated Press' David Brandt noted, has a logjam with Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee all tied for third place in the SEC standings at 5-3, one game behind second-place Texas A&M at 6-2. John Gasaway, an ESPN Insider college basketball contributor, suggests Ole Miss could be the second-best team in the SEC behind No. 1 and lone unbeaten Kentucky. Here's Gasaway:

In Kentucky's first game of the SEC season, the Wildcats were taken to overtime in Lexington by Ole Miss. At the time, it seemed like a worrisome portent for John Calipari's top-ranked team, but here we are seven games later, and UK is the nation's only undefeated team.

For their part, the Rebels have also looked pretty good since that game at Rupp Arena. Andy Kennedy's team now boasts the league's second-best per-possession scoring margin, and in fact, Ole Miss has been especially impressive on offense.

As a 5-foot-10 junior who functions, in effect, as a 2-guard, Stefan Moody will trigger categorical confusion everywhere he goes. Then again, he's making more than half his 2s in conference play, and also shooting better than 90 percent at the line -- Kennedy probably doesn't lose any sleep over what label we give Moody.

Granted, "second-best team in the SEC" is no great tribute this season, but that may well be what's on the line this Wednesday when the Rebels host second-place Texas A&M. The close shave that Kentucky suffered at the hands of Ole Miss a few weeks back may not have been a fluke after all.

- Speaking of the SEC, it's not as bad as you think it is, writes Mike DeCourcy from the Sporting News.

- Former Ole Miss men's basketball star Marshall Henderson started a travel blog, and here's his first post, chronicling his travels and professional basketball career in Italy and Qatar and his acceptance of an offer to continue his professional basketball career in Iraq. Insightful read. Stay tuned to his Twitter account, @NativeFlash22, and his blog, The Road Most Traveled, for future updates.

- The women's basketball team has gone through a brutal five-game stretch, facing four ranked teams and another, LSU, was receiving votes, knocking off No. 18 Georgia, before dropping the next four to No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 18 Mississippi State, LSU and No. 1 South Carolina.

- As head coach Matt Insell said before, and said again Sunday, Ole Miss likely needs to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration. Through nine SEC games, the Rebels are 4-5, looking at three remaining home games, possibly all against ranked teams, in their last seven regular season games.

"We had a tough stretch, but we're not going to waver," Insell said." We're not going to panic. We're going to play to the final buzzer. We know what it's going to take to get on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. We know it takes eight wins in this league to get on the bubble. That means we have to win some road games and we have to pull an upset at home."

- Tia Faleru, the Rebels' leading scorer and rebounder, has picked up two or more first-half fouls in three of the last four games, all losses for Ole Miss, and it's a concern for Insell and the Rebels going forward this season. After scoring in double figures in 16 of the first 19 games, she has scored in double figures just once in the last four games.

"We're a different team, if she's on the floor, or she's not on the floor," Insell said. "I have challenged Tia Faleru. I told her she has to step her game up and she has to be a force for us."

- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley led the Gamecocks to a 10-18 record in her first season. It took her three season to lead them to a winning record and four seasons to lead them to an NCAA Tournament appearance, and now in year seven, she has the Gamecocks off to a 21-0 start and a No. 1 national ranking. Staley sees some similarities in what she has built at South Carolina and what Insell is building at Ole Miss, writes David Cloninger from The State.

- After being ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings, Tate Blackman, who's expected to be the opening day second baseman for the Rebels, was selected as the SEC Preseason Freshman of the Year by D1Baseball.com.

- In case you missed it, check out The Season: Ole Miss Baseball Day One.

- The Mike Smith Era for Ole Miss softball begins on Thursday, as the Rebels travel to Tempe, Arizona, for a four-day, six-game tournament. For Ole Miss powder blue fans, one of the new uniforms they will be wearing this season are these, which the team wore during one of the media timeouts of the men's basketball game against Mississippi State.

- As she did on the set of College GameDay nearly four months ago, pop superstar Katy Perry stole the show at the Super Bowl. A self-proclaimed Katy Perry fan, myself, I was pleased with the inclusion of the 2008 hit, "I Kissed a Girl," and then she ignited the Ole Miss fan base, dancing with Landsharks and other costumed creatures as she delivered "Teenage Dream" and "California Girls."

- Here's more on Katy Perry and her touching down in football fandom, writes Melissa Hoppert from New York Times.

- Lastly, a congratulations to former Ole Miss running back and current New England Patriot Brandon Bolden, who became the 16th Super Bowl champion in Ole Miss history. Here's my story on his wild ride, from undrafted free agent, to Super Bowl participant, and now Super Bowl champion.

Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for the start of their seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Selection Sunday is more than a month away, but in a battle of teams on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Ole Miss men's basketball team downed Florida 72-71 on Saturday. Going into the matchup, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi tweeted, "The loser here is pretty much toast from an NCAA tournament perspective." 

- Through six SEC games, Ole Miss is 3-3, having played six of the top eight teams from the league, according to KenPom.com. The Rebels, themselves, are the third-highest rated team (No. 34). Looking ahead, return trips at home against Arkansas and Georgia and a road game LSU loom large for the team's NCAA Tournament chances.

"It's good for our confidence," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the win. "We're not as confident of a group as I would have hoped despite some of our early wins that show we are a good basketball team. You have to be able to stack wins at this time of the year. It was obviously a vital game for us."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers proved clutch for the Rebels, scoring each of the team's last four points, the first two on a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line and the last two on a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left after driving into the lane.

"Coach (Kennedy) always tells me to go right," Summers said. "That's my strength. I just listened to him this game and tried to make a play." 

- In a similar situation, tied 77-77 on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, Summers settled for a contested 3-pointer, which was off the mark, and the Wildcats went on to win 89-86 in overtime. That was not the case Saturday against Florida.

"I beat myself up after that game," Summers said. "I just had to move forward. I told myself if I ever got in that situation again, I was going to keep going to the hole and be aggressive." 

- Here's a good read on Stefan Moody from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger. Check it out.

- Playing its third straight opponent ranked opponent, Ole Miss came up just short, falling to Mississippi State 64-62 on a last-second shot on Thursday night. Ole Miss went 1-2 over the three-game stretch, knocking off Georgia and losing to Texas A&M and Mississippi State by a combined 11 points. The Rebels are 14-6 overall, 4-3 in SEC play, likely needing to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration.

- The result was not what head coach Matt Insell and the team wanted, but a lively crowd of 3,383 provided one of the better, if not the best, atmospheres I have experienced in five-plus years around the women's basketball program. Insell has tirelessly promoted his program, including going door-to-door on Fraternity Row the night before the Mississippi State game, and it showed Thursday.

"First, I want to thank Rebel Nation," Insell said. "What a great crowd that was. I think Oxford, Mississippi and Rebel Nation just really showed up for us tonight. They showed us how much they cared about this basketball game. The crowd was into the game the entire time. I just want to thank everyone that came."

- A lot has been written and said about The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Here's an infographic comparing it to Tad Smith Coliseum. Notice the concessions in the bottom right corner that includes the addition of Raising Cane's to the menu.

- The Ole Miss baseball team held its first spring practice on Friday and its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Here's a pretty thorough preview from Kendall Rogers on the Rebels, which are ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings. Don't forget, Ole Miss opens the 2015 season with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting Friday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m C.T.

- The lowest-ranked team in its four-team regional in Gainesville, Florida, the Ole Miss men's tennis team notched two big wins over No. 13 Florida and No. 29 South Carolina. The Rebels rallied from down 3-0 to defeat the Gators 4-3 and closed out the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Gamecocks to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16.

- The men's tennis team was bolstered by the return of senior Nik Scholtz, a three-time All-American and the reigning SEC Player of the Year. Unranked because he did not play in the fall, Scholtz defeated the 34th-ranked and 71st-ranked players this past weekend. For more on Scholtz and his decision to return to Ole Miss for his senior season, click here.

- Former Ole Miss players Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson showed out at the Senior Bowl this week. They impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Next up is the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 17-23). For more on their week at the Senior Bowl, click here and here.

- Another former Rebel, the New England Patriots' Brandon Bolden, will be playing in the Super Bowl next Sunday (5:30 p.m. CT, NBC). I caught up with Bolden earlier this week, so look for more on him in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

- In case you missed it, with the start of classes, the Ole Miss football has been updated to reflect six mid-year additions, including freshman offensive lineman Javon Patterson, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection from Pearl, Mississippi. Looking ahead, National Signing Day (Feb. 4) is a week and a half away, so stay tuned.

- In case you missed it, part two, the Ole Miss football video department released a couple of videos over the weekend: "Home is Ole Miss" and "The Journey: Chapter 3."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Jan. 13-19, 2015

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss thrashed No. 19 Arkansas 96-82 on Saturday. The Rebels picked up their first true road win over a ranked opponent since 2003 and scored the second-most points ever by an opponent in Bud Walton Arena.

- Ole Miss leads the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 79.6 percent of its attempts. The Rebels have hit 142 of their last 169 (.840) attempts from the line. Junior G Stefan Moody ranks third in the SEC and 22nd in the nation shooting 88.6 percent from the free throw line. 

- Sophomore C Dwight Coleby posted his first career double-double with a career-high 12 points and 10 boards against the Razorbacks.  

- Junior G Stefan Moody scored 18 points and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the Rebels' win at No. 19 Arkansas. Moody is averaging 18.3 ppg and shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range in SEC play. 

- Senior G Jarvis Summers dished out a season-high 7 assists in the win over the Razorbacks and passed Todd Abernethy and Jason Harrison for fourth in Ole Miss history with 432 career assist. Summers needs just 35 points to become only the 14th players in SEC history with 1,500 career points and 400 career assists.

Women's Basketball

- Ole Miss started the week with a win over Georgia that  snapped a 24-game losing streak to AP ranked foes, giving Ole Miss its first win over ranked foe since Jan. 23, 2011. It marked the first win over a ranked opponent at Tad Smith Coliseum since upsetting No. 12 LSU in Oxford during the 2009-10 season 

- Tia Faleru picked up her eighth double-double of the season and her 28th career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds against Texas A&M, her first double-double since having her streak of five consecutive snapped against Alabama on Jan. 11. 

- Erika Sisk posted her 10th game in double figures with a team-best 15 points against Texas A&M. Sisk also extended her double-digit scoring streak to four straight and five of the last six games, while  Shequila Joseph posted her third game of double figures with 10 points against Texas A&M and tied her season-high with six rebounds.

- Shandricka Sessom was back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games with concussion-like symptoms after getting injured at Florida (Jan. 8). She posted five points and five rebounds in her return. 

Men's Tennis

- Ole Miss opened the Toby Hansson era with a 6-1 win at UCF.

- Junior Stefan Lindmark played his first match at No. 1 singles and won in convincing fashion 6-1, 6-1 against a player who earned all-conference honors last year.

- Senior William Kallberg and freshman Gustav Hansson improved to 9-2 overall with a 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles.

Women's Tennis

- Ole Miss went 2-0 to start in the season, shutting out the University of Hawaii, 6-0, and downing Washington, 6-1.

- Senior Julia Jones went 3-0 on the weekend, winning both of her singles matches at No. 1 in straight sets and winning at No. 2 doubles against Washington. She improved to 12-3 on the year.

- Freshman Arianne Hartono also went 3-0 on the weekend with impressive straight-set wins in singles. She is now 11-4 on the year.

Rifle

- Rifle faced a pair of ranked opponents this past weekend, falling to No. 6 Kentucky, 4688-4580, and dropping a close one to No. 16 NC State, 4606-4602. 

- Against the Wildcats, freshman Jessica Haig equaled her career-best with a 588 in air rifle.

- Sophomore Sarah Emery shot a personal best 578 in air rifle against NC State.

After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of Southeastern Conference play.

In their league opener, the Rebels went on the road and pushed No. 1 Kentucky to overtime, and then four days later, cruised to a wire-to-wire 65-49 win over South Carolina. One of the keys, head coach Andy Kennedy said, has been finding the right combinations on the floor.

"With us, every player has a strength and a weakness," Kennedy said. "I'm trying to have combinations to cover ourselves. We're getting better at that."

For the Rebels, the right combinations start with their two leading scorers in junior guard Stefan Moody (14.8 ppg), the high-volume scorer, and the senior guard Jarvis Summers (14.4 ppg), the game-manager, who are learning how to play together in the backcourt.

"The biggest thing is Moody has more assertive, as opposed to watching Jarvis," Kennedy said. "He's becoming more assertive and, now he's helping Jarvis. A lot of times early in the season, we were ball-watching a lot. Everybody was watching Jarvis dribble around, and nobody knew how aggressive they needed to be. We're starting to figure that out."

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, who saw the duo up close and personal this past Saturday, likened Moody to an NFL defensive back because of his freakish athletic ability and described Summers as "probably the least-heralded player in the SEC that's really good." Through two SEC games, Moody and Summers are averaging a combined 21.0 ppg and shooting a combined 49.0 percent from the floor.

"I thought the way they play, I have always felt that (Jarvis) Summers was the heartbeat of their team," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. "As solid as he is, is the sense of urgency and toughness that he plays with, even when they had Marshall Henderson on the team.

"The different look right now is the newcomer (Stefan Moody) that they have that did take a lot of those (Henderson-type) shots and played so well against Kentucky the other night gives them the feel of Henderson. He's a very capable scorer that can make shots."

After 1-1 start in league play, the Rebels enter a key stretch, where they play three straight games against RPI top 45 opponents, starting with LSU (No. 45) on Wednesday night.

"These are two teams that everybody has in the tournament," said sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz of LSU and Arkansas (No. 13 in the latest RPI). "At the end of the day, they're going to be in the tournament. So to get both of them is going to be really good for us."

LSU is led by sophomore forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, who are averaging a combined 32.7 ppg and pulling down a combined 19.2 rebounds per game. Martin ranks third in scoring (16.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.6 rpg), while Mickey ranks sixth in scoring (15.9 ppg), second in scoring (10.6 rig) and leads the league in blocked shots (3.6/game).

"The conservation with LSU starts with Martin and Mickey, two great players, and they have really taken a big leap forward as you expect from year one to year two," Kennedy said. "They're two guys who caused you a lot of matchup problems because of their size and versatility."

Last season, Kennedy said, their biggest deficiencies were rebounding margin, defensive rebounding percentage, and an inability to finish close to the basket, all areas where Ole Miss has improved from last year to this point in the season. 

Against No. 1 Kentucky, the nation's longest team and the league's leader in rebounding margin, scoring defense, field goal percentage and blocked shots, Ole Miss was outrebounded just 34-32 and outscored the Wildcats 30-26 in the paint.

Led by Martin and Mickey, LSU provides another tough test for Ole Miss in each of those respective areas, as the Tigers rank fifth in the league in rebounding margin (+5.2/game) and second in blocked shots (6.3/game).

"Kentucky is the biggest team in college basketball and they would be the second-biggest team in the NBA, so if we can do that against Kentucky, we can do that against anybody else," said Saiz, who scored a career-high 20 points in last year's meeting with LSU."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Jan. 6-12, 2015

Women's Basketball

- Ole Miss went 2-0 on the week with a road win at Florida and a win at home against Alabama, moving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC action while winning back-to-back SEC games for the first time since 2011-12. 

- Ole Miss' win at Florida snapped a 14-game SEC road losing streak and gave Ole Miss it's first SEC road win since Jan 5, 2013,  an 88-81 win also in Gainesville. 

- Ole Miss' 13-4 start is the best start since 2006-07 when Ole Miss opened the season 16-4 and advanced to the Elite Eight while Ole Miss' 3-1 SEC start is the best since 2009-10 when the Rebels opened up 4-1 

- Tia Faleru extended her double-double streak to five straight games with 16 points and 12 rebounds against Florida, the longest double-double streak for an Ole Miss player since Nikki Byrd in 2011 and was the longest double-double streak in Faleru's career. 

- A'Queen Hayes posted her first career double-double against Florida with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Her 15 points tied her career high and the 10 rebounds was a new career high.  

- The two Ole Miss double-doubles against Florida marked the first time Ole Miss has had two double-doubles since the Baylor game in 2013-14

- Gracie Frizzell, Ole Miss' resident sharp shooter, set a new single-game and Tad Smith record with a career-best eight three-pointers in Ole Miss' win over Alabama.  Frizzell's eight three-pointers is the most in the SEC to date and was three off the SEC single-game record. Frizzell set career-highs in points (24), three-point FG's (8) and extended her consecutive games with a three-pointer to eight straight games. 

- As a squad, Ole Miss posted a season-high 10 triples, the most since knocking down 11 against Missouri in the SEC opener in 2013-14. 

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss posted a 1-1 mark last week to open SEC play after a loss at Kentucky Tuesday and a win over South Carolina Saturday at home. 

- Junior guard Stefan Moody scored 25 points and senior guard Jarvis Summers added 23 for the Rebels, who outscored Kentucky 30-26 in the paint and controlled the boards for much of the game, before falling to No. 1 Kentucky 89-86 in overtime. 

- Summers led all scorers with 20 points, while Moody added 16 points, all in the second half, as Ole Miss rolled over South Carolina 65-49. 

- For Summers, it was his third 20-point game in his last four games, his team-leading sixth 20-point game of the season. 

- The Rebels shot 41 percent from the floor, but they were 7-of-14 from 3-point range and 18-of-22 from the free-throw line and committed just 10 turnovers.

- Defensively, the Rebels held South Carolina (9-5, 0-2 SEC) to a season-low 49 points and forced 15 turnovers, turning them into 17 points. 

- Ole Miss continues to lead the nation in free throw percentage, hitting .791 of its attempts.

Track & Field

- Sophomore Jalen Miller clocked the world's two fastest 60-meter times in 2015 to lead Ole Miss in a dominating season opener at the Gene Edmonds Invite in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday.

- After running a 6.57 in the prelims, Miller clocked a 6.56 in the final to claim the world's fastest time this year by five hundredths of a second. He set a personal best that is just one hundredth of a second off Mike Granger's school record and also established a meet and facility record at Purdue's indoor track.

- All told, the Rebels won nine events and broke two school records in addition to Miller's sensational short sprinting.

- The Rebel men won all but three events in which they competed and claimed victory in every individual running event in which they lined up an athlete.

- Senior Dameon Morgan established a school record in the men's 600 meters with his time of 1:18.48, breaking Thomas Johnson's record that had stood since 1991.

- In her first race in the Red and Blue, freshman Brooke Feldmeier surged past some high-level competitors to win the women's 600 in a school-record time of 1:28.42, which leads the nation this year. The previous record of 1:29.63 was set by Sofie Persson in 2011.

- After the opening weekend of 2015 competition, the following men rank top 10 in the NCAA: Miller (1st in 60m, 6.56), Darryl Brown (9th in 200m, 21.42), Robert Semien (7th in 60mH, 7.90) and Phillip Young (3rd in TJ, 51-0.75).

Men's Tennis

- The Rebels began the spring season at the Florida Gulf Coast University Invitational this past weekend and picked up 23 wins in singles and doubles against TCU, Rice and FGCU.

- Senior William Kallberg and freshman Gustav Hansson finished 5-1 in doubles, including a win over the No. 15 ranked team in the country. They are now 8-2 on the year.

- Junior Stefan Lindmark and sophomore Ricardo Jorge also posted a big win in doubles, defeating the No. 20 ranked team in the nation.

- The Rebels got some big news this past week off the court, as reigning SEC Player of the Week Nik Scholtz announced he is returning for his senior season.  The three-time All-American will join the team when school starts and will seek to become the first four-time All-American in the history of the program.

Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing No. 1 Kentucky in 2012. Kentucky is 102-13 all-time against Ole Miss, including 48-2 in games played in Lexington. The Rebels have one win all-time at Rupp Arena, coming in 1998.

"Excited to get the SEC schedule under way, and we obviously do it in grand fashion in Rupp Arena tomorrow night," said head coach Andy Kennedy on the SEC teleconference Monday. "So I know our guys will be excited about the opportunity, playing in the most storied venue in all of college basketball, against arguably the best team in college basketball. So I know our guys will be looking forward to the opportunity."

The Wildcats are a perfect 13-0, as they pursue the first undefeated season in college basketball since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers, a team that included Tom Abernathy, the father of Todd Abernethy, the coordinator of recruiting development and acting assistant coach.

By defeating Louisville by eight points, 58-50, Kentucky's school-record run of consecutive double-digits to begin the season ended at 12, a run that included double-digit wins over No. 5 Kansas, No. 25 Providence, No. 6 Texas and No. 18 North Carolina.

"Cal doesn't get the credit he deserves for the job he does," said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin on the SEC teleconference Monday. "I watched them the other day. They're magnificent. They're defending as well as any team in the country, and as well as any team I've seen in a long time."

Their defense, Kennedy said, is what gives gives them an opportunity an opportunity to undefeated this season. Kentucky leads the nation in scoring defense (47.8 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.297) and blocked shots (8.2/game). The Wildcats also lead the SEC and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.267).

"They're a special defensive team," Kennedy said. I've certainly watched them casually when I could throughout the course of the season, and then as we gear up for them in preparation. That is what gives them an opportunity to do what I know is a topic of conversation not only in Kentucky but throughout the country: Can this team go through the regular season undefeated? 

"It'll be a monumental challenge, obviously, but defensively is the reason that I think it's a valid question, simply because they don't give you anything easy, and as a result teams have really struggled to score against them."

Because of their defense, along with their size and length, Kennedy has stressed the importance of making jump shots, and defensively, keeping them off the offensive glass. Kentucky leads the SEC and ranks ninth nationally in rebounding margin (+10.4/game), leading the league in both offensive rebounds (15.2/game) and offensive rebounding percentage (.460).

"We're going to have to make jump shots, which is not easy to do in any venue, much less Rupp," said Kennedy after the win over Austin Peay on Saturday. "Because of their length and ability to alter everything in the paint, you have to make jump shots. Defensively, you have to do an incredible job off the defensive glass. We've improved on our rebounding margin and guys are pursing the ball more consistently. If you allow them to live off the offensive glass, you have no chance."

Kentucky head coach John Calipari, looking at Ole Miss, stressed the importance of defending jump shots, particularly perimeter shots, noting that the Rebels' three leading scorers, all perimeter players -- junior Stefan Moody (13.9 ppg), senior Jarvis Summers (13.3 ppg) and LaDarius White (12.5 ppg) -- account for 52.6 percent of the team's scoring and 53.2 percent of the team's field goal attempts.

"Mississippi is going to shoot 25 threes in this game or maybe more," said Calipari in his media opportunity Monday. "If they make 20, then we lost our first game. They're shooting 25. Their three guards are their leading scorers and take more than 50 percent of their shots. 

"They offensive rebound 13 or 14 per game. They're going to play a zone where they're changing defenses. It could confuse us. If they're making shots, then we have to try to drive them off the 3-point line. When you're playing teams that are willing to shoot that many, you just don't know."

SEC Appears Stronger Entering Start of League Play

Looking at the SEC as a whole, all metrics point to a stronger league from top to bottom and perhaps more NCAA Tournament bids for a league that received just three bids last season. And it starts with Kentucky's dominance at the top.

"Kentucky has sort of separated themselves in the nonconference from the rest of the world, not only in our league, but from everybody else's league as well," said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings on the SEC teleconference Monday. "Our league is deep and I think the conference season will be an absolute grind because there are so many teams that are probably competitive and equal enough that a lot of teams can win on any given night."

The SEC is one of four conferences with five teams in the RPI top 50 and one of three leagues with 10 teams in the RPI top 100. The SEC also has five teams in the top 50 and 11 teams in the top 100, according to KenPom.com. Ole Miss is rated No. 93 and No. 67 in the two metrics, respectively.

ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his first full bracket of the season, and it included five SEC teams, and in his conference-by-conference forecast, he forecasts four teams from the SEC to receive an NCAA Tournament bid.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House is back, having taken a week off for the Christmas holidays and traveled to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The football team finished the season in a "New Year's Six" bowl, the men's basketball team closed out non-conference play, the women's basketball team opened Southeastern Conference play and the spring sports draw nearer. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- The Ole Miss football team ran into a buzz saw in No. 6 TCU, a team playing like it was motivated by the College Football Playoff snub and should have been in the four-team playoff. The 42-3 loss to the Horned Frogs marked the first bowl loss under head coach Hugh Freeze and the worst bowl loss in program history.

"TCU is a very good team," Freeze said. "They deserved every mention they got this year to be in the hunt for one of the four.  They certainly, rightfully, deserve to be in it with the others.... To pick the four is a very difficult task.  They certainly could compete with any of those in it, no question in my mind."

- It's easy for fans to be disappointed by the end of the season, but credit is due to Freeze and the 2014 team, particularly the seniors, many of whom were freshman during a 2-10 season in 2011. They helped lead the program to three straight bowl games for the first time since 1998-2000 and their nine wins are its most in a season since 2009. History will be kind to this team, as the underclassmen on this year's team look to take the program to the next level in the years to come.

"I'm extremely proud of our kids and how they've turned this program, in three short years, to being relevant and competitive. I'm just sick that it wasn't that way for them today," Freeze said.

- Playing in his last collegiate game, senior cornerback Senquez Golson provided a bright spot in the game, as he tied the school record with his 10th interception of the season, the 16th of his career, which is tied for third place in Ole Miss. A projected second-day NFL draft pick, Golson remains undecided on his plans for the spring, whether it's playing baseball or preparing for the NFL Draft.

- He did not want to go out the way he did, saying as much to the media in the postgame press conference, but just as history will be kind to this year's team, it will likely be kind to senior quarterback Bo Wallace. He had his ups and downs, and he would probably be the first to admit that, but he finishes his Ole Miss career with school record for career total offensive yards (10,478), and with 24 wins as the team's stating quarterback, he is tied with Eli Manning as the winningest quarterback in modern Ole Miss history. Among those 24 wins: Three top-10 wins, including No. 1 Alabama, two Egg Bowl wins and two bowl wins.

- Much was made about the SEC's bowl performance and the SEC East's 5-0 record and the SEC West's 2-5 record, headlined by the 0-3 record by SEC West team in the "New Year's Six" bowl games. With that being said, a couple of things to consider: The SEC tied its own record the most conference bowl wins in college football history. When comparing the records of the two divisions, be sure to look at their bowl game opponents, which includes the nation's No. 4, No. 6, No. 12 and No. 18 teams for SEC West teams. Also, should one bowl game carry more weight than the 12-game or 13-game regular season when comparing divisions and conferences?

- Speaking of the "New Year's Six," the new format pulled in historic ratings. The first half of the "New Year's Six" delivered the most-viewed and highest-rated New Year's Eve triple header on an ESPN network on record, including an average of 5,013,000 views and a 3.4 US rating for No. 6 TCU and No. 9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. The semifinals on New Year's Day then delivered the largest two audiences in cable television history and the highest overnight rating for a non-championship game on ESPN and ABC, with a 15.5 rating for No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl and a 15.3 rating for No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. I look forward to seeing the numbers for the College Football Championship on Monday, Jan. 12.

- Looking ahead to next season, Ole Miss will have perhaps its two best offensive players in sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and sophomore offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil coming off season-ending injuries, as Tunsil suffered a broken fibula in the loss to TCU. David Chao, MD, a former NFL head team physician, said on Twitter that type of injury requires surgery, but Tunsil could make a recovery in four-to-six months. Freeze said Treadwell, now out of the boot, will recovered by about the start of spring practice, expecting him to participate in some of spring practice.

- But the biggest question heading into the offseason and the 2015 season? The quarterback position. The Rebels signed the nation's top junior college quarterback in Chad Kelly, and we'll know more about his future with the program in the coming days. And then there's redshirt freshmen Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, neither of whom has separated from the other through two seasons working behind Bo Wallace. It will be something to watch.

- Other questions heading into the offseason and 2015 season? Who does Freeze hire to replace linebackers coach Tom Allen on his coaching staff? After signing four on junior college national signing day, including the nation's top quarterback, defensive tackle and cornerback, how does Ole Miss finish up its recruiting class on National Signing Day (Feb. 4)? How do Treadwell, Tunsil, among others recover from season-ending injuries? That and more, we'll all have to sit back and watch.

- Speaking of looking ahead to 2015, here's Chase Parham's annual look at 10 dates that are significant for Ole Miss during the next calendar year. A must-read for all Rebel fans, if you haven't already checked it out.

- While in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, I had the opportunity to visit and tour the College Football Hall of Fame. Wow. If you're a college football fan and haven't yet visited the museum in downtown Atlanta, you need to make plans to do so. 

When you walk in, you see a three-story-high wall of helmets representing the 768 teams that play college football at the FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA level. When you walk upstairs, you walk through the history of college football, whether it's through exhibitions, many of which are interactive, or through films. And then there's some Ole Miss flavor, from a "Speed Limit 18" sign, to an Archie Manning 1970 magazine cover, to a game ball from the 2011 seven-overtime game against Arkansas, and then the helmet wall, films and interactivity of the exhibits will blow you away.

- As part of bowl week, I also had the opportunity to visit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital, shadowing three of team's 21 seniors in Cody Prewitt, Billy Busch and Charlie Scott. It was great to watch the players interact with the patients, sharing stories and brightening their day. It gave you perspective. 

Another senior, Lavon Hooks, said it best: "It was a great opportunity getting to hang out with kids that might not get the same opportunities as us. It brightened my day, just being able to give back. I think it brightened their day, too, getting to play and hang out with some people they may see on TV and look up to."

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team had an interesting non-conference, defeating Creighton, Cincinnati away from Oxford, while losing to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky on their home floor. The Rebels closed out the non-conference slate with a 9-4 record, rolling past Austin Peay 92-63 on Saturday. Ole Miss shot a season-best 54.8 percent from the floor, but head coach Andy Kennedy was most pleased by 23 assists on 34 made field goals.

"There have been a lot of things I was not expecting," said Kennedy of non-conference play. "I felt like the continuity would be a little better because we had more experience. The reality is we are still integrating new guys into the way we do things. It took us a while to figure out who's best with whom. This team needs to share the ball. We have to help each other get shots."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers has come on strong entering the start on SEC play. He has scored in double figures in each of his last three games, including a team-high 18 points in the win over Austin Peay.

"Tonight as we were making that push, he was the guy that was being the player we need him to be," said Kenned of Summers, the Rebels' second-leading scorer. "My hope is he's getting back into a rhythm. He understands the importance that he brings to this team."

- The Rebels open SEC play on Tuesday when they play on the road at No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Kennedy and Summers both stressed the importance of making jump shots and keeping the Wildcats off the offensive glass to keep the game close and give themselves a chance at the upset.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened SEC play, defending their home court in a 71-57 win over Arkansas and then playing No. 11 Kentucky to the wire in a 64-58 loss on the road in Lexington. The Rebels led for 25:59 of the game, before a 6-0 run over the final 2:22 sealed the win for the Wildcats. Despite the loss, head coach Matt Insell and his team proved they're going to be a tough out for opponents this season.

- With the turn of the calendar, the start of the spring sports draw nearer, and something is whether three-time All-American and reigning SEC Player of the Year Nik Scholtz elects to return for his senior season in men's tennis. The Caledon, South Africa, native played in various Futures tournament this past summer and fall. With Scholtz, the Rebels would return six of their top seven player from last season, in addition to talented newcomers Gustav Hansson of Sweden and Zvonimir Babic of Croatia. 

A couple of dates to watch, as far as a possible return for Scholtz, are Jan. 7, when Ole Miss opens the 2015 season in the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational, Jan. 21, when Ole Miss classes begins, and Jan. 24, when Ole Miss begins play in the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

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With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football team moved one week closer to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Freeze's new $4.3 million base salary is tied for third among Southeastern Conference head coaches and tied for seventh nationally. It increases to $5 million if the Rebels advance to the SEC Championship Game, which would be tied for second among SEC coaches and tied for tied fourth nationally.

- Also, as part of the same release, Ole Miss announced it will unveil plans, including visuals and timelines, for the expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Monday, so stayed tuned for those.

- The first-ever two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, Deterrian Shackelford was honored for his community service and off-the-field contributions, winning the Wuerffel Trophy and being elected the AFCA Good Works Team Captain.

- The Ole Miss Alumni Association will hold its bowl bash on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. More details here. As we get closer to Dec. 31, be sure to visit and bookmark Ole Miss Bowl Central and Chick-fil-A Bowl Central and stay tuned to @OleMissFB and @CFAPeachBowl for all things Chick-fil-A Bowl related.

- There might be a few more video between now and Dec. 31, but here are two videos to check out from Ole Miss Sports Productions: The 2014 season highlight video and the official team Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl preview video. Great work, as always.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team moved to 6-3 on the season, suffering its third home loss in five such games this season. The Rebels led by as many as 17, and as many as 16 in the second half, but they were unable to overcome a second-half rally from Western Kentucky in an 81-74 loss Saturday.

"It's unacceptable, quite frankly," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "It's unacceptable for me, it's unacceptable for our team. I've tried and tried and tried to infuse pride. It's hard to infuse that, I have learned. We have really tried everything we could to get them to understand the importance of protecting home floor because it's so difficult to win on the road." 

- As many others noted, preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers was held to single-digit scoring for the fourth straight game against WKU. In each of the Rebels' three losses this season, he has scored just eight points.

"Basically, just got to do what I've got to do," Summers said. "I can't make no excuses. I have to get in some rhythm. It's frustrating. I can't pout. I can't cry about it. I have to continue to put the work in." 

- On the positive side, Stefan Moody led the Rebels in scoring for the fourth straight game, which has included 26 points against Cincinnati, 22 against Oregon, and most recently, 25 against WKU. He's averaging 21.3 points and has gone 14-of-27 from 3-point range during the four-game stretch.

- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded from back-to-back losses with perhaps its most complete performance of the season, cruising to an 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. With the win, the Rebels have a chance to go 10-3 for its best non-conference record since the 2011-12 season.

- In the win over South Alabama, five players scored in double figures and the Rebels shot a season-best 53.2 percent from the field. Defensively, Ole Miss forced 31 turnovers and held South Alabama to 29.5 percent shooting, including just four made field goals and 14 points in the second half.

- Not Ole Miss related, but if you haven't already, you should check out this Marcus Mariota Heisman tribute video from the University of Oregon Athletic Video Department. Great stuff. Mariota won the award, receiving 90.9 percent of the possible points in voting, the second-highest percentage ever. 

- On an Ole Miss-related note, the Rebels will face Heisman Trophy fourth-place finisher, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Ole Miss has already faced and defeated the third-place (Alabama's Amari Cooper) and eight-place (Mississippi State's Dak Prescott) finishers for the award.

- Ole Miss will have at least two representatives in the NFL Playoffs, as Brandon Bolden's New England Patriots and Donte Moncrief's Indianpolis Colts clinched division titles Sunday. Check out this story on Moncrief from Stephen Holder on the Indianapolis Star.

Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic.

"We hadn't really found any rhythm through our first four games, either offensively or defensively," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We had been playing hard, but I didn't think we established any rhythm whatsoever. That was surprising to me based on what I had seen this summer and the extra work. I thought we would be further along in developing an identity. We took a huge step toward that this past weekend."

Senior guard Jarvis Summers, a preseason All-SEC first team selection, leads the team in scoring averaging 14.7 points per game. He is joined in double figures by junior guard Stafan Moody (13.0 ppg) and senior guard LaDarius White (12.2 ppg). 

Moody exploded for a career-high 26 points, including 17 in the second half, as Ole Miss defeated Cincinnati in the Emerald Coast Classic Championship Saturday. He knocked down as many 3-pointers against the Bearcats (3-of-7) as he had all season (3-of-21).

"He hadn't really made any threes prior to us going to Florida, and he really struggled," Kennedy said. "The first one he made, he banked in against Creighton, which is not what we intended to get him out of his slump. He made a couple early against Cincinnati. They pressed us, which allowed him to get in the open floor, and he made some spectacular finishes."

"It took a while, trying to get used to the offense and things like, but then I finally got it going, got in a good rhythm, got some good looks, and the shots started falling," Moody said.

White, Kennedy said, has probably been their consistent player this season. He is averaging 13.0 ppg during the last five games, all wins for the Rebels, and is shooting 58.9 percent from the field, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range.

"He came out of that big class with Johnny O'Bryant, Rodney Hood, Jarvis Summers, and I really felt like Snoop had a chance to be a tremendous player," Kennedy said. "My hope is that this senior year, he will embrace the approach you have to take, and he will be consistent. He has certainly showed moments."

Through six games, Kennedy has used a deep rotation with all 12 healthy scholarship players averaging nine-plus minutes per game, including nine players averaging 14-plus minutes per game. 

"We have done it so many times, I'm used to it," said Moody of the deep rotation. "Any five that's out on the floor, I feel like we can mesh together, regardless of who's coming in and coming out. We have been doing it for so long."

The rotation has not included sophomore forward Terry Brutus, who missed last season with a torn ACL, but he is expected to return to full practice and game action soon. Kennedy noted his ability to help the frontcourt with rebounding and ball-screen defense.

"He's unique in that he gives us a four-man that we haven't had since he got hurt," Kennedy said. "He has some of the same Murphy (Holloway)-like qualities in that he's a bit undersized, but he's so explosive and he's so quick. He's been practicing with us for about 10 days. We have increase his workload in contact, and so forth. He gives us great energy. We'll see if he gets cleared, and we're pretty confident that he will, and we'll see how quickly we can get him into game action because it's been a while since he has played."

Coming off wins over Creighton and Cincinnati, Ole Miss turns its attention to two more marquee non-conference opponents, as the Rebels host unbeaten TCU (7-0), coming off a 61-52 win over Mississippi State, and travel to Oregon (4-2), an NCAA Tournament team last season.

"We have already stubbed our toe," said Kennedy, referring to the season-opening loss to Charleston Southern. "We have talked about wanting to protect your home floor, simply because I know how difficult it is to win on the road. And then we'll have a challenge at Oregon on Sunday. We're playing two opponents from quality leagues, and I understand the importance of those games."

Gaining experience and building chemistry were two big talking points for the Ole Miss men's basketball team coming out of its Bahamian exhibition tour in August. The practices leading up to and including the games in the Bahamas are already paying dividends, as the Rebels began preseason practice Friday.

"We're so far ahead based on what we had the opportunity to experience in the Bahamas," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have been with this team for 10 practices in July and August, and then we had two games in the Bahamas, so I feel much further along with this group. 

"That, and and this is the most-experienced team I have coached at Ole Miss, where nine of our 13 scholarship players are upperclassmen. I'm pleased with where we are and the prospects of this team."

With the departure of Marshall Henderson, senior Jarvis Summers, an All-SEC second team selection and the SEC's second-leading returning scorer, is looking to lead and be more vocal on a veteran-laden team with nine upperclassmen.

"I want him to be a leader and I want him to be steady," Kennedy said. "He has showed he is capable of those things. He had a great junior year. He's an all-league level player. For the first time, he realizes this is his team. We will go as far as he carries us, and he has accepted that challenge.

"Last year, a lot of the focus was on Marshall, and Jarvis did a great job of playing off of that. This year, he will be the focus. It will be a new role for him, and he will have to adjust accordingly."

Summers himself said it's everyone's responsibility to lead and take ownership of the team.

"I feel like everyone has to play a role," Summers said. "I know I played the most minutes and I'm the player from last year that got things going, but we're one, and we have to lead together."

Among the nine upperclassmen are two graduate transfers in Terence Smith and M.J. Rhett and two junior college transfers in Stefan Moody and Roderick Lawrence. Moody and Smith, Kennedy said, will help Summers with ball-handling responsibilities in the backcourt.

"With our two post-grad transfers, you're getting a mature kid who's been in game action before," Kennedy said. "And they're hungry because they never really experienced much team success. Stefan Moody and Rod Lawrence have really helped us from an athleticism and versatility standpoint."

It's a big weekend on campus with the first-ever visit of ESPN's College GameDay and the SEC West Showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Ole Miss in football, and it only benefits the other programs, Kennedy said, including men's basketball.

"Everybody's under the brand of Ole Miss," Kennedy said. "We're all on the same team, whether you're a basketball player, a football player or a volleyball player. We're all Ole Miss. Anything that can raise that profile is awesome. What Hugh (Freeze) has been able to do, getting College GameDay here and the excitement it brings and the platform it presents, we're all excited about it."


The Ole Miss men's basketball team wrapped up its Bahamian exhibition tour with a perfect 2-0 record. Head coach Andy Kennedy recapped the trip, talked about the chemistry, depth and experience of a new-look roster heading into the fall. The Rebels will open the 2014-15 season at home Nov. 14 against Charleston Southern. 

Below are the highlights from Tuesday's media opportunity:

On what he learned about the team from the trip to the Bahamas: 

I learned a lot. We had 10 practices here. We were over there for five days and we got two games. I treated it like an exhibition in that you obviously want to win, but I played all 12 guys. Terry Brutus is not healthy enough yet. He hasn't been cleared for full contact. Hopefully, he will be by the end of August or early September. 

Our 12 scholarship guys who were healthy and eligible to play all averaged double-figure minutes. I had seven of those guys average 18-plus minutes, three of which were new guys. It was very beneficial to see us in game action. We were able to put in some offensive and defensive stuff that we feel like we can build on and tweak. It was good for us.

The depth and experience of this group is probably as good as I have had. We have five seniors, three of which have matriculated through our system in Jarvis (Summer), Snoop (White) and AJ (Aaron Jones). We have two fifth-year guys in Terence Smith and M.J. Rhett, two experienced, focused guys. 

We then bring back a Martavious Newby and Anthony Perez who are now juniors. You guys have heard me say a bunch that when a kid becomes a junior, that is who he is. 

You then add two junior college kids in Stefan Moody and Rod Lawrence, two guys who have started at the Division I level. And then you have Sebas(tian Saiz) and (Dwight) Coleby, two guys who were thrown in the fire as freshmen and you look to take that next step, and they have done so. And then you add a freshman in Marcanvis Hymon. 

You have a bunch of upperclassmen who have been through this before. Trying to mix and match and see what we have as a group was very educational to me. When we start back at the end of August, early September, this experience will give us a head start in preparing for the season.

On establishing chemistry: 

It's really important. I'll be going into my 10th year as a head coach. I'm not smart enough to know how to push all the buttons so that the chemistry aligns. It has to evolve and it has to be owned by the team. 

That's really the biggest thing that I have challenged this group with, especially the seniors. M.J. and Terence, they're new to the situation, but they don't have time to feel your way through it. I want them to attack it with a sense of urgency that last year guys didn't play with. 

Snoop, Jarvis and AJ have all been good players in this program and all have been vital parts of us having some success. This is it. This is the last go-around, and I want them to own it. This gave us an opportunity to put that in play early.

On the roster: 

I felt like last year, the difference in winning 27 games and advancing to the NCAA Tournament to winning 19 games and not going to the postseason were evident to me. We needed to get more athletic. We needed to get stronger on our frontline. We had a rebounding deficiency that we weren't able to overcome. We weren't as proficient as we needed to be in a number of different areas. 

Bringing in the two fifth-year guys and bringing in the two JUCO guys, we filled some of those voids. We return seven of our top eight, with Marshall (Henderson) being the lone ranger who was obviously pivotal in what we have been the last two years.

But the core of our team is back. You add a Stefan Moody who will have a Marshall-like impact honestly. I'm not sure from a sensational standpoint, but here's a kid who is a terrific player and brings a wow factor from an athleticism standpoint that's going to give us some pop in that void that Marshall left with volume shooting and volume scoring. Rod Lawrence is a very solid piece. I tell him all the time, he needs to be our (Manu) Ginobili, a guy who can help us in a lot of different ways, and that's what he does. He's athletic, he's energetic, he's a great defender, he can do this and he can do that. 

And then you bring in two fifth-year guys. Terence Smith scored 1,300 points and started a bunch of games. He's been through college basketball and he's been through it at the level that he's never experienced this. He's excited about this, being in the SEC and having that opportunity. And the same for M.J. Rhett. He was eighth in the nation in double-doubles and led a league in rebounding. He has never experienced this. He has never experienced the NCAA Tournament, so those guys are hungry for that. 

It's been a good edition based on what we have been able to bring in and what we have coming back. I feel pretty good about our core.

On the new players: 

I wanted to throw them into some adversity. In our first game, we allowed it to affect us a little bit. We were looking around at what was going on, and it was good for us in game two when the same thing happened against a better team. Yet, we battled through it. We didn't give in. That was a valuable lesson and something that I will be able to use throughout the course of the season. Those new guys were a valuable part of that, seeing how we reacted to adversity and see how we deal with being in unusual circumstances.

On Jarvis Summers:

He's the most experienced and most productive returning player in the SEC. He has a chance, with a senior year on par with his junior year, to go down historically as one of the best players in the history of our program. He's very focused and very confident. Physically, he's probably in the best shape of his life. Jarvis came here at about 170 pounds, and he's about 190-195 pounds now. He's stronger and he's always had to be a physical guard. Last year, what he was able to accomplish has done wonders for his confidence. He knows this is his team, and he's leading that accordingly.

On the impact of Sebastian Saiz's international experience:

Last year, he was all arms and legs. He was gangly and he got knocked off his spot. He's gotten stronger and his base has gotten stronger, so he's not as easily moved. He played about 21.5 minutes a game, and he was our most productive big. He averaged close to a double-double (with) 11.5 (points) and 9.5 (rebounds). Some of that was because he was more familiar with international rules, like live ball off the rim, and he took advantage of a lot of that. 

He's active. He's confident. He's always played with a motor. For him, it's a matter of figuring out the size and speed at this level and getting stronger. With him having been in the program for a year, you can see him physically stronger. 

Dwight Coleby, as well. ... He's another one that I think you're going to see huge improvement in his physical conditioning and the way his body has reshaped. He's a big kid, both of those kids with Sebas at 6-(foot)-9, about 235-238 (pounds) and Dwight at 6-(foot)-9, about 245 (pounds). 

You add a M.J. Rhett, who's about 6-(foot)-9, 245 (pounds). AJ, I remember the goal for us was to consistently keep him in the 210s, between 212-218 pounds. Now, he's in the high 220s to about 230. He's matured physically going into his senior year. 

Hopefully we can get (Terry) Brutus back healthy. It's been a while -- last September -- since he played, when he tore the ACL. He's anxious to get back. Before the year, he was vital in us making that run, when we had Bear's (Demarco Cox's) injury, and he became that third post (player). You could always count on him. His quickness is somewhat Murph-like (Murphy Holloway-like). His skill isn't yet, but his quickness and ability to make plays. 

You guys are going to really like Marcanvis Hymon. It was great to see him in game play. He has a natural feel and natural ability to find the ball, much like Murph did. I'm really excited about our frontline. That's six guys, not even counting Anthony (Perez), who can still slide down some in that spot. The competition is going to be great for us, and that's what's going to leads us to become a better team.

On Marcanvis Hymon:

He's a face four. He will play all his time at that four-spot until he evolves. He's only about 6-(foot)-7. He's long, he's a quick jumper, and he's athletic. He's a lot like Murph. He has a natural ability, and the ball finds him. He can shoot it out to about 15-18 (feet). Terrance (Henry) evolved into a 3-point shooter, and (Hymon) will in time. He played all post in high school. He's raw, but he's athletic, he's quick, and he did some really positive things.

On the team's depth:

When you talk about experience, with Jarvis as the most experienced guy in the SEC, Snoop who's been through it and we hope that he can take that next step, AJ who was coming as a sophomore. This time last year, he was walking around on crutches, and then I throw him into a starting role. It had mixed reviews, but now he's had a year. He's healthier and he's bouncy again as a senior, with a sense of urgency. 

You bring in two fifth-year guys who have been tremendous assets to us. Terence Smith, I knew from watching him that he was an open shooter, but he's a lot like Jarvis. He's a very efficient guy. He's solid, much more athletic than I thought. He's an angled defender. He always made open shots for us. I'm playing him at some backup point and he did a great job. All his turnovers were bad-rule turnovers -- backcourt violations that aren't backcourts for us and traveling that not's traveling for us -- and he's very steady with the ball. It allows me to play Moody with the ball and without the ball. Moody is a guy who can play a little bit everywhere. He averaged 16 (points) a game at the Division I level. 

We added some pieces, along with Anthony (Perez), who went from a freshman who didn't play very much to a sophomore who helped us to win games, and Newby, who broke his hand and came back at end when we were playing a little better and evolved into a starter. All of those guys have been there and gained some experience and now they know through this trip what's expected of them moving forward. I'm excited about what I see and where we are.

On the third assistant coach position:

It's kind of on the back burner. I'm still going through due diligence. You guys are pretty smart and you realize what I'm doing, and if it evolves like I want it to. ... The positive and the reason I don't have a huge sense of urgency is because of Todd (Abernethy). I brought Todd in here to a position (Coordinator of Recruiting Development) that men's basketball had never had before. I credit Ross (Bjork) and the administration for having the foresight to empower me to have the position, so we created a non-coaching, recruiting development, off-the-floor position. 

When this transpired, I moved him up and allowed him to recruit to give us another body. He has done a great job for us and has gotten us involved with some really good players that he's a point guy for. He was great on the floor and it adds to his credibility with the guys, if and when that spot gets changed. 

They will view him differently because here's a guy who jsut finished a professional basketball career, he was an All-SEC player, and he can still play. He's out there and he's interacting with them, which has helped his relationships and helped him get to know the guys. 

That's another advantage of the trip. We had a lot more interaction for him and Tony (Madlock). They are now much further ahead in their relationships with the players than they would be before because of the experience. All of that has been helpful. 

(Todd's) a natural coach. He will be a coach, sooner rather than later. He's like me and he's like everybody else, you get in where you get in and you try to move your way up. He's had a great opportunity and he's taken advantage of it. It's opened my eyes to the fact that he's a valuable piece to us, so I don't feel like I have to name somebody tomorrow because we're understaffed. We're really not.

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Ole Miss finished on a 40-15 run over the last 16:42 of the game to rally past Mississippi State 78-66 in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday. 

Ole Miss was 14-of-25 (56.0 percent from the floor), including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, in the second half, and it carried over to the defensive end, where the Rebels held the Bulldogs to just 4-of-23 (17.4 percent) shooting from the field.

"We have to come out with that sense of urgency that we played with in the last 10 minutes," said head coach Andy Kennedy after the win over Mississippi State. "It was probably the best half we have played offensively in a long time. When you see 56 percent from the floor, we outrebound them. We have a positive assists-to-turnover ratio, Marshall and Jarvis made some shots, and we got contribution from a number of other guys. It's probably the best half we have played offensively in a while."

With the win, Ole Miss advances and continues its Southeastern Conference tournament title against No. 3 seed Georgia in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The Rebels look to avenge a 61-60 earlier this season in Athens, where second team All-SEC selection Charles Mann hit one of two free throws with 1.5 seconds left to win the game.

"Oh, yeah, definitely ready to play them again," said senior guard Marshall Henderson, who had a game-high 21 points against Mississippi State. "They got us. What I remember is Gaines had a really good game. He shot the ball well. We had our chances, but we had a couple bonehead mistakes that hurt us in the end. We're excited for the opportunity to play them again."

Georgia finished tied for second in the league standings with a 12-6 mark in the SEC to grab the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Mann and fellow sophomore guard Kenny Gaines lead Georgia averaging 13.4 points per game and are the only two players averaging double figures for the Bulldogs. They combined for 38 of the team's 61 points in their first meeting with Ole Miss.

"It's going to be a rugged game," Kennedy said. "Mark Fox has done a great job of righting that ship and making the necessary adjustments. His team has figured out who they are and they have embraced hard. It's what I'm trying to get my group to do. You got to embrace hard. It's hard to win. I don't care who you're playing or where you're playing, it's hard to win.

"So I think his group embraced hard, and they're really playing. They developed an identity. It was a knock down, drag out. They were up, we get back the lead, couldn't finish it, missed some crucial free throws, and then Charles Mann made a winning play."

Three stats, which have been key to Georgia all season, were key to the Bulldogs in the first meeting: field goal percentage defense, free throws and rebounding. Georgia leads the league in field goal percentage defense (39.5 percent) and held Ole Miss to a season-low 32.2 percent from the floor. 

Georgia ranks second in the league behind Kentucky averaging 27.3 free throw attempts per game and went 20-of-28 from the line against Ole Miss, led by Mann, who was 12-of-16, including the go-ahead free throw. The Bulldogs are fifth in rebounding margin (+5.0 rpg) and outrebounded Ole Miss 49-34.

"It's going to be a hard matchup for us," Kennedy said. "There is one advantage. Mississippi State showed early tonight that when you get a win in this building it helps you initially. Did they get a little tired at the end? I think again it was because they weren't making any shots. It's easy to lose your momentum when the ball doesn't go in.

"But I think tomorrow early we should have a little bit of an advantage because we've seen the ball go in the basket for us, most especially in the second half. So hopefully we can take that approach."

Ole Miss outscored Mississippi State 43-22 in the second half, as the Rebels rallied for the 78-66 win in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday night in Atlanta. With the win, Ole Miss advances to play No. 3 seed Georgia in Friday night's quarterfinals.

Mississippi State took a 44-35 lead into halftime behind 58 percent shooting, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. In the second half, Ole Miss flipped the script. 

The Rebels shot 45 percent, while they held the Bulldogs to 17 percent from the floor, and it translated to the both teams' energy on both ends of the court.

"When you make shots, it's amazing how much energy you have," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "When you miss shots, that energy goes away quickly. In the first half, they were making shots and they were hopping all around the gym. We couldn't make one. We were just trying to stay in the game. The script got flipped in the second half. In the second half, we started making them, and they were struggling a little bit."

"Something kicks into gear with about 10 minutes left to go in the second half," said senior guard Marshall Henderson, who finished with a game-high 21 points. "For whatever reason, our sense of urgency goes up a lot more, and the focus become more effective."

Down one, 56-55, Henderson drew a charge with 8:39 left, and on the next possession, the Rebels took their first lead, 57-56, on a lay-up from junior guard LaDarius White. From there, Mississippi State would lead just once the rest of the way, as Ole Miss finished on a 40-15 run over the last 16:42 of the game.

"I'm just trying to make a big play somewhere else," Henderson said. "That's what coach emphasized. Coach (Kennedy) always says players made plays. A lot of times we get to thinking that it's only on the offensive end, and he always tries to reiterate to us that you can make a big play on defense, if you want to."

After going 3-for-12 from the field, including 3-from-10 from 3-point range in the first half, the shots started to fall for Henderson in the second half, as he was 4-of-9 from the field -- all from 3-point range -- in the second half. It included back-to-back 3-pointers after a 3-pointer from junior guard Jarvis Summers, who also finished with a game-high 21 points, to stretch a 62-60 lead to 71-60 and put the game out of reach with 2:42 left.

"I was feeling it there in the first half," Henderson said. "There three or four of them that rolled in and out. It was the most roll in-and-outs I have ever had, but they were there. Then, it got to crunch time, and shots had to be made."

"They were struggling missing shots, and they could feel the momentum start to turn," Kennedy said. "They were in control for about 30 of the 40 minutes, but we kept coming and we kept coming. You look up, and we go from being up two, to being up eight, to being up 12, and that's when they got a little bit slower and Marshall had an opportunity to put down a couple of daggers, and he did."

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Ole Miss meets Mississippi State for the third time this season, with a berth in SEC Tournament quarterfinals and a matchup with No. 3 seed Georgia on the line. It is just their second meeting in the SEC Tournament with the Bulldogs winning 73-64 in 2003.

No. 14 seed Mississippi State advanced to the second round with an 82-68 win over No. 11 seed Vanderbilt on Wednesday. The Bulldogs shot a season-best 59 percent from the field, as they snapped a 13-game losing streak.

"Once we set foot on the court, we have a shot," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray after Wednesday's win. "But more so than anything, I think that what happens is everybody focuses in on one player on their team. People don't understand how good Jarvis Summers is. He's a really good basketball player. Sometimes you get so caught up in Marshall Henderson and guard him off the cuts and screening action, that you allow Jarvis Summers to go one-on-and. And when you allow him to go one-on-one, he's a really good player."

"It will feel great to get to see them one more time," said Mississippi State sophomore guard Craig Sword, who led four Bulldogs in double figures with a game-high 20 points against Vanderbilt. "But we're going to take thing one game at a time. We're going to come in tomorrow focused and locked in."

In their first meeting, without senior guard Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss fell to Mississippi State 76-72 on the road in Starkville. In their second meeting, Ole Miss avenged its earlier loss with an 82-63 win in Oxford led by 19 points each from Henderson and junior guard Jarvis Summers.

In addition to the return of Henderson, the Rebels' leading scorer, another big difference in the two meetings was the play of Sword, the Bulldogs' leading scorer. Sword had 15 points, all at the free throw line, in the first meeting, while Ole Miss held him to just four points in the second meeting. 

"Obviously, if State wins tonight and we have the opportunity to play them, then, you know, it would be their Super Bowl in that they could go ahead and put us out of our misery," said head coach Andy Kennedy in Wednesday's pre-tournament press conference. "I think that whoever we play, simply because we have played them both twice and we are very familiar with them, we know what we have to do. We just have to go out and perform."

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