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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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It's a similar road to last year, as Ole Miss begins its SEC Tournament title defense on Thursday against the winner of the Vanderbilt-Mississippi State game. This year, a similar run would take an extra game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. 

Ole Miss is the No. 6 seed, and the winner of Thursday's game advances to play No. 3 seed Georgia in Friday's quarterfinals, the round where the reigning SEC Tournament champion began its run through the field a year ago.

"There's not as much pressure," senior guard Marshall Henderson said. "Looking at the road that we have, we're excited about it. We're in the same position. We have the same path. We have to win one more game."

"We ended up finishing in the six seed, which as Marshall said, it's really the same road and the same time slot we had last year except we have one more game," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Now, we're into the postseason. One missed assignment, one guy not doing his job on a set, one guy not making the proper rotation, one careless turnover, one missed free throw, and the season is over. I want them to understand, and my hope is that it won't increase pressure. Pressure doesn't exist until you allow it to exist. I want them to be on edge. I want them to be locked in and laser-focused, and then let's see how good we can be."

Henderson and junior guard Jarvis Summers were recently named to the All-SEC second team by the league's coaches, and any run through the tournament starts with them. Henderson leads the league averaging 3-pointers 4.29 3-pointers made per game and ranks third in scoring (19.0 ppg), while Summers ranks eighth in scoring (16.9 ppg) and is the only player in the league to rank among the top 10 in the SEC in scoring and field goal goal percentage and top five in assists.

"These two guys have to play well," Kennedy said. "I saw that they were both acknowledged as second team all all league players which is a tribute to them and they have got to carry us. If they play well, and we get some contribution from the guys who have shown capable, then we have a chance to stay around a few days."

Kennedy reiterated that they're still searching in the frontcourt, adding that he's still thinking about who is starting tomorrow night in their frontcourt. During last year's run, the Rebels got contributions from the supporting cast in sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus and junior guard LaDarius White. This year, Kennedy said they need similar contributions from them, as well as Perez, the team's third-leading scorer in league play, and sophomore guard Martavious Newby, who has started each of the last three games after returning from a hand injury on Feb. 18 against Kentucky.

"Between Anthony, Snoop, now that Derrick is back with us, those three guys are getting the majority of the minutes, along with Newby now on the perimeter," Kennedy said. "Of those four, we need two of them to bring their 'A' game. If all four bring their 'A' game, we can play until Sunday. But we need two of those four to be really productive for us, and when we get that, this team has shown capable."

Ole Miss has played both No. 11 seed Vanderbilt and No. 14 seed Mississippi State twice, having completed the season sweep of the Commodores with a 65-62 win in Oxford this past Saturday. Ole Miss split the season series with Mississippi State, but the Rebels' loss back in January, however, was without Henderson.

"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," Kennedy said. "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."

Henderson Sets SEC 3-Point Record In Win

It took just 1:54 of game time before Marshall Henderson hit his first 3-pointer of the game, his 61st-straight game with a 3-pointer, to break the SEC record previously held by Pat Bradley of Arkansas.

Henderson was one of four Rebels in double figures, as Ole Miss snapped a four-game losing streak with a 79-67 win over Alabama Wednesday in Oxford. He finished with 13 points, all in the first half, on 4-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-8 from the 3-point line.

Henderson has hit a 3-pointer in every game of his two-year Ole Miss career and ranks fourth all-time in school history with 248 career 3-pointers, one behind Keith Carter for third place all-time. He has hit multiple 3-pointers in 60 of 61 career games, with last season's game against Georgia, an 84-74 win for Ole Miss, being his only career game without multiple 3-pointers.

"It's an honor to break the record," Henderson said. When you shoot as many threes as I do, records are bound to fall."

Jarvis Summers, logging a team-high 38 minutes, led the Rebels with 20 points, his team-leading 10th 20-point game of the season. Summers was 5-of-15 from the field and 1-of-6 from the 3-point line, but he was 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

The star of the game, however, was Martavious Newby, who returned from a hand injury less than two weeks ago on Feb. 18 against Kentucky, having suffered the injury on Jan. 25 against Mississippi State. He set career highs with 15 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double, and provided immeasurable energy in 31 minutes off the bench.

"He was without question the MVP of the game," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "That was the Martavious Newby recruited, the guy that we thought would be energy. That's what he was. He was all over the field. He didn't hesitate. He stepped up and knocked down two big threes, and the timing of those were huge. He kept balls alive. He was without question the energy component that we were looking for to grind out a win."

Led by Newby, Ole Miss outrebounded Alabama, 42-24, including 17-7 on the offensive glass, which led to a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points. The 18-rebound advantage was the largest of the season for the Rebels. Anthony Perez (nine points) was second on the team with eight rebounds, followed by Aaron Jones (12 points) and Demarco Cox (five points) with six rebounds each.

"The stat that jumps out to me, our Achilles' heel all year has been rebounding, and we were plus-18 on the glass. Anthony had a huge one at the end. Newby kept balls alive, and Demarco Cox gave us his best minutes in a long, long time. It was a good team effort."

With the win, Ole Miss remains in fourth place in the SEC standings, tied with LSU and Tennessee at 8-7 in league play, with the fourth-place team earning the fourth and final double bye to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

"We have to do what we're supposed to do and that's prepare for Texas A&M, who is also in that equation, and try to go and break through on the road," Kennedy said.

Rebel Comeback Falls Short

Five takeaways Ole Miss' 84-70 loss to No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday night:

1. Rebel Comeback Falls Short

Kentucky built a 42-25 halftime lead, as the Wildcats shot 58.6 percent (17-of-29) from the field and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range. In the second half, Kentucky led by as many as 22 midway through the second half before Ole Miss made a run to get within six, down 76-70, with 1:49 left after a three-pointer from Anthony Perez.

On the next possession, Julius Randle put Kentucky up 78-70 with a layup late in the shot clock. Ole Miss had three looks to cut back into the lead, but Kentucky grabbed the rebound and put the game away with six straight points from the free throw line for the 84-70 win in Oxford For the game, the Wildcats were 27-of-30 from the free throw line, including 25-of-28 in the second half.

"The way we played in the first half, even with all the turnovers, we wanted to play faster," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "We didn't want to get into a slugfest because they can score in spurts. You need to get easy baskets, and we did. I was really proud of them in the first half. I said at halftime, 'They're going to make a run. You do know that, right? Now, let's see how we respond to it, and let's make our own run. 

"We're making strides. I was really proud of Julius, and we made our free throws. We showed courage down the stretch. They made shots, and they make shots."

2. Kentucky Controls The Paint

Like the second half in their earlier meeting at Rupp Arena, Kentucky won the battle in the paint with a decisive advantage in points in the paint (36-26), second-chance points (11-2) and rebounding (39-23). Julius Randle led the way for Kentucky with 25 points and 13 rebounds. He was also 13-of-14 from the free throw line.

"They turned it over 19 times because we couldn't stop them," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "When we did get them to miss, it was the same thing we saw in Rupp. They go and get it. My guys are saying this and that. We're just not tough enough physically to put our nose in there and battle. As a coach, when you're saying that at the end of February, it's pretty sobering. It's pretty disappointing. My fault."

For Ole Miss, Anthony Perez, who plays some in the frontcourt, finished with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Aaron Jones, Dwight Coleby, Demarco Cox and Sebastian Saiz combined for seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.

"We were taking pretty good looks," Kennedy said. "We just can't get anything at the basket. We're 26 games into this, and it has not changed. Our field goal percentage is around 40 percent in league play. It's sobering."

3. Newby Helps Spark Rally In Return

Martavious Newby returned to action, having missed the previous six games after suffering a hand injury against Mississippi State on Jan. 25. Newby did not score and grabbed just one rebound in nine minutes played, but he gave Ole Miss energy off the bench.

He checked in at the 9:08 mark in the second half when the Rebels trailed 62-40, its largest deficit of the game, and they went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 64-50 with 7:13 left. Ole Miss would later get to within six points before Kentucky closed out the game.

"He gave us great energy," Kennedy said. "He's a guy who was supposed to be out four to five weeks, and he was out about three. He practiced for the first time yesterday. I had zero intention of putting him in the game. I'm just looking for life. I'm just looking for some fight, and he gave us some fight."

4. Summers Bounces Back

After being held to nine points at Alabama and then 11 points at Georgia, Jarvis Summers bounced back with a team-high 22 points, his eighth 20-point game of the season. He was also 9-of-17 from the floor.

"He's just aggressive," Kennedy said. "He cares. He's a competitor. That kid is a warrior. He tweaked his ankle a little bit. It's grind for him because I'm playing him heavy minutes. I had to take him out for that. He's a competitor. You can never question Jarvis Summers in any regard."

5. The Next Opportunity Awaits

Ole Miss turns around and hosts No. 2 Florida, which has won each of their first 12 SEC games and 17 straight games overall since a 65-54 loss at Connecticut on Dec. 2. The Gators look to extend their winning streak to 18 games, as they host Auburn on Wednesday.

Like Kentucky, Florida is another opportunity for Ole Miss to enhance its resume with the Gators rated No. 4 in the Ratings Percentage Index (ESPN.com) entering Tuesday.

"You have to try to move forward as quickly as possible and hope that you learn some lessons tonight," Kennedy said. "That's what you hope. When you see the ball go in the basket early, it will do amazing things to you."

Rebels Fall Short At Georgia


Jarvis Summers tied the game at 60-60 after completing a 3-point play with 33.2 seconds left, and Georgia had the ball with a chance to win with the shot clock off. 

Charles Mann held the ball at the top of the key before driving and pump-faking, drawing a foul from Dwight Coleby with 1.5 seconds left. Mann missed the first free throw but made the second for the one-point advantage and the 61-60 win Saturday in Athens.

"It was his inexperience at the end," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I put him in the game for one reason because he was rebounding. We went small to try to speed the game up. It was our best chance offensively to try to create some baskets. At the end, we subbed him for Derrick to get a little bigger in the zone, and we went man-to-man at the end of the shot clock. We switched the ball screen. It's something we have done all year. It's just inexperience. Mann, a veteran player, shot faked, leaned in and made it happen."

"I thought he was going to drive and then I thought he was going to shoot it, so I jumped up," Coleby said. "I tried to move, but it was too late. He jumped into me."

Ole Miss led for most of the game before Georgia went on an 11-0 run, sparked by nine straight points by Kenny Gaines, including a four-point play, to take a 50-40 lead with 8:31 left in the game. Ole Miss answered with a 14-4 run to tie the game at 54-54 with 3:18 left.

And then it was back and forth, with Gaines putting Georgia ahead 60-57 with 46.2 seconds left before Summers answered on the other end. The go-ahead 3-pointer by Gaines, who finished with a game-high 21 points, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range, came off an offensive rebound by Marcus Thornton.

Ole Miss committed just three turnovers, a season low, and forced 12 turnovers, but Georgia outrebounded Ole Miss 49-39, including 18-13 on the offensive glass. The Bulldogs also had a 20-12 advantage in second-chance points. 

After winning the rebounding batting in a 91-88 win over Missouri, the Rebels have been outrebounded in back-to-back games, having been outrebounded 42-34 in a 67-64 loss at Alabama earlier this week.

"It's toughness," said Kennedy of rebounding. "There are a number of things that we're doing wrong, but this is an issue that's been an issue for us for a while. There are some games where we do better. On the road, we don't do as well, which tells me it's a mental and physical toughness that we have to address."

After starting 14 straight games, Marshall Henderson came off the bench for the first time since Dec. 8 against Oregon, and he responded with a game-high 24 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the free throw line. It marked his team-leading eighth 20-point game of the season.

"I was just trying to change his mojo," said Kennedy of Henderson coming off the bench. "He's shooting 30 percent from the floor and less than 25 percent in the first half on the road. It's not a winning formula, so I was trying to find a winning formula."

Summers was the only other Ole Miss player in double figures, as he finished with 11 points, including the game-tying 3-point play in the final minute. He was limited to 24 minutes, having picked up his third foul with 16:17 left and his fourth foul with 7:39 left.

"Jarvis has big shoes to fill," Kennedy said. "He goes 4-for-12 (from the floor). He rebounded the ball and he didn't have a turnover. He was steady, but obviously when you're getting 17 (points) a game, you have to carry that on the road. Marshall was the only guy offensively that was making plays for us. 

"Jarvis kept us in it with a huge drive at the end. His heart is in the right place. We just have to make some plays."

The Rebels move to 16-9 and 7-5 in Southeastern Conference play ahead of back-to-back home games against No. 14 Kentucky (Tuesday, 6 p.m., ESPN) and No. 3 Florida (Saturday, 11 a.m., CBS). Both teams also entered Saturday rated in the top 10 of the Ratings Percentage Index (ESPN.com).

"It's another hard game," Kennedy said. "We're playing one of the best teams in the country and followed up by another one of the best teams in the country. We have to get better."

VIDEO: Andy Kennedy Media Opportunity

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy met with members of the media Thursday, ahead of the Rebels traveling to Athens, Ga., for a battle with the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday (3 p.m., Fox Sports Net).

On momentum after a win over Missouri followed by a loss at Alabama:

I'm not a big believer in momentum as it relates from one game to the next. I believe in in-game momentum. I don't know if it travels and stands the shelf life of day to day. We didn't play well in Tuscaloosa and deserved to be beaten quite frankly. When you look at it statistically, I was amazed that we had a lead late. 

We weren't able to make the plays. We always talk about that. In the games that we have won, especially on the road, it has come down to a play here or a play there. Somebody has to make a play, and we didn't make them. Trevor Releford did. We put ourselves in a position where one shot beats you, and unfortunately for us, it's happened three times this year, and the kid hit it.

On the energy expended to come back in games late in the season:

We didn't play well, however you slice it. When you look at it statistically, you can't go on the road and shoot in the mid-to-upper 30's from the field. You can't get outrebounded. Defensively, we were pretty sound and able to stay in the game, and then we let their all-league caliber guy score the last 16 points of the game.

On teams defending Jarvis Summers differently:

I met with Jarvis earlier, and I just need Jarvis to play with energy and pop. I can't allow the grind to wear him down. I didn't feel like he played to the standard that we have become accustomed because he's played like an all-league player. He was not on his best game at Alabama. 

Marshall continues to struggle on the road with shooting. And if you're not getting second-chance or third-chance opportunity off the offensive glass, which we weren't, ultimately you're not going to be able to manufacture enough to give yourself a chance. When you hold the whole team under 70 points, you have to feel like you have a chance to win, but again offensively we weren't very good.

On NCAA Tournament standing:

We have seven regular season games left. I have a lot of responsibilities as the head coach here, but one of the biggest is to lend perspective. We're at a point in the season, where a month from yesterday, the SEC Tournament starts, and that's hard to believe for me. 

We have seven games left and there are a lot of opportunities for us moving forward. Perspective is certainly valuable at this time of the year. If last year taught us nothing, it's truly about focusing on the next opportunity, and as long as you have games, you have opportunity. That has to be the mindset of this group.

On Jarvis Summers' expanded role and him carrying it to the finish of the season:

He's certainly in a different position than he's even been in before. We have always rode him hard minutes and asked him to run our club. This year, we're asking him to make game-winning plays, so that certainly takes a toll on you physically. 

Mentally, he's up to the challenge. He's a junior in our program, he's played in big games, he's had big moments, and I know he wants to be in that position. Now it's just a matter of going out and making the plays.

On Jarvis Summers' minutes taking a toll on him physically:

I don't think so. Most every team at this time of the year is going to go through some bumps and bruises. Just because they're players, they're all susceptible to the colds and flus and everything that happens with this weather. We have to be smart in making sure that we take care of them and put them in a position where we can get to the game at full strength. That doesn't mean we have to stop practicing. Sometimes I have to remind my guys of that. 

We have to get better. This team has to improve. I have a fifth-year senior in Marshall and a junior in Jarvis who have played heavy minutes, but nobody else on our team has ever been in the position that I'm asking them to be in. We have to practice. We have to get better. We have to improve as a team if we any realistic goal of reaching the postseason at any level. We have to improve.

On Anthony Perez:

He's another guy who last year was an afterthought, a practice player who didn't get in the game. His minutes have really increased, especially with Newby's absence. We're down to 11 scholarship guys. A couple of the freshmen don't play that much, so I'm playing him heavy minutes, close to 30 minutes per game. 

I'm playing him at the 3, I'm playing him at the 4, and he has to accept that responsibility. His talent is certainly good enough to help us. Now, he has to reflect on the last three to four weeks where he's been put in that position and continue to grow through the experience. His confidence wanes at times. He's not as assertive as I would like for him to be. At times, matchup-wise, he's a prominent option for us offensively. 

And then, defensively, when I play him at the 4, we have to do a better job off the glass. If we don't shore up these rebounding woes, we're putting ourselves in a position where, unless we make every shot like we did against Missouri, it's going to be hard to win.

On Georgia:

Georgia is a team that's found its way. They're 11-2 at home, 5-1 in league play. They have done a good job of protecting home floor. They were similar to us in the respect that last year it was about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the best player in our league. He leaves, so now they have Charles Mann, who they have asked to make the play. They have Marcus Thornton and Kenny Gaines. They all played last year, but now they are prominent in whether the Bulldogs win or lose. 

It took them a little while in the non-league to figure that out. Once they have gotten into league play, they have been playing really well. They went into Mississippi State last night and dominated the game for the last 30 minutes, so we're playing a club that's playing well. Both of us are 7-4 in the league. They have down a really good job of protecting their home floor, so we have to go in and make sure that we take the right approach.

On the difference in post play from Missouri to Alabama:

If you look at our home and away numbers, it's staggering for some of our guys. It's not only Jarvis and Marshall, guys who we expect to be more consistent. The numbers are vastly different home and away. 

In our wins, Sebas and AJ are getting us 15 (points), 15 (rebounds) and about 3.5 (blocks). In our losses, and they have all been on the road, so it's easy to correlate, they're getting about half that production. That, coupled with a really inept shooting percentage, makes for long nights, and that's what we have experienced some on the road. 

We have to shore those things up and become more consistent. You would hope that as we can continue to drive that message home and as guys get more experience, those numbers would change and we can become more consistent, so ultimately we can get the results we want.

On looking ahead to Kentucky and Florida next week:

Next week's games really don't have the significance if we don't find a way to grind through some of these. We have four home games and three on the road, and we have to win games. Saturday is the next opportunity to do that.

On Demarco Cox's play against Alabama:

With Bear, his minutes have been up and down. I trust him because he's been in the program. To me, it's all about production. The guys who I'm playing up front, I'm searching for production. I'm searching for rebounds per minutes, to be a presence at the basket, to finish layups, to make free throws, simple things. 

We don't ask our bigs to do a lot for us. It's different from last year when we were going to Murph and ask him to make a play, or running offense through Reggie because of his ability to read out of the post. We don't ask these guys to do that because they're not ready to do that just yet. 

We ask them to defend, to rebound, and to be proficient from block to block. The guys who play are the guys who are doing it on that night. We play four different guys in there depending upon who's producing.

On Terry Brutus:

The knee is doing OK. He had an ankle situation on the same knee. It bothered him some last year, and they think when he went down with the ACL that he further damaged the ankle. He went in and had some surgery on his ankle a few weeks ago. It's the same leg, which is going to really set back his rehab. 

We have plenty of time. My hope is that he will be fine. He's a strong, young kid. We hope that he will be able to make a full recovery, but he has had a little setback in his rehabilitation based on the ankle.

On Martavious Newby:

He's doing good. He's going to be cleared for basketball stuff here soon, maybe as early as next week. They put a soft cast on him where he can catch and move, and once we get to that stage, we will know when we can put him back in a game. 

On Martavious Newby being available for games next week:

He has not been in practice yet, so I have not thought about it. Until I see him in practice, then we will make a determination.

Three takeaways from Ole Miss' 67-64 loss at Alabama on Tuesday night:

1. Trevor Releford, Alabama Make Plays

Trevor Releford, Alabama's leading scorer and the Southeastern Conference's seventh-leading scorer, scored 16 of his team's final 20 points to lift the Crimson Tide to a 67-64 win over Ole Miss on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa. 

Releford finished with a game-high 26 points, his ninth 20-point game, and none were bigger than his last-second, game-winning 3-pointer after Ole Miss tied the game at 64-64 with 13 seconds left.

"We felt like, at the end, that if we settled back into a zone, we all knew that the ball was going to go through Trevor Releford," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He really carried them down the stretch which is what a senior, all-league player does, and he made a big shot."

Before Releford's late-game heroics, Ole Miss used an 11-0 run to take a 51-47 lead with 9:13 left in the game. Alabama answered with an 11-5 run to regain a 58-56 lead with 3:34 left, behind nine points by Releford. Ole Miss tied the game at 64-64 with two free throws by Jarvis Summers, but the Rebels did not lead again after that run by Alabama.

"I thought it was a huge sequence in the game when we were up four and we made a couple of poor decisions in the open floor," said Kennedy of the Rebels' lead late in the game. "We got an offensive rebound and threw it to them - a live ball turnover - which led to a basket that tied the game.

"We go from having the ball to them shooting a layup to tie the game. We then go to Anthony Perez on the block for an and-one and he doesn't finish the layup and goes 1-2 from the foul line.  The very next play, Trevor Releford gashes us as he goes through our four men and gets an and-one. They get the lead, although we tied it at the end, and it seemed like they had the momentum from that point forward."

2. Henderson, Summers Held In Check

Marshall Henderson (19.6 points per game) and Summers (17.4 ppg), the Rebels' two leading scorers, were held to a combined 23 points. Not including the games Henderson missed due to suspension, it was their lowest combined point total since Nov. 29 against Georgia Tech, and their third-lowest combined point total of the season.

It was just the third time Summers did not finish in double figures this season, and the fourth time overall that either Summers or Henderson were held to single-figure scoring. As a team, Ole Miss was held more than 13 points below its scoring average (77.5), and it was just the sixth time this season the Rebels were held under 70 points.

3. Alabama Wins Battle In The Paint

The Crimson Tide outscored the Rebels 34-18 in the paint, led by the duo of Nick Jacobs and Shannon Hale. Jacobs (8.3 ppg) and Hale (7.3 ppg) each more than doubled their scoring averages, as Jacobs was second on the team with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while Hale was third with 15 points, including 8-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line.

Ole Miss was outrebounded for the 15th time this season, as Alabama won the rebounding battle, 42-34, including 14-10 on the offensive glass. Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz, who each grabbed double-digit rebounds in Saturday's win over Missouri, combined for just six rebounds.

What It All Means

Rebels Face Tough Test On The Road

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Through 70 Southeastern Conference games, home teams are 50-20 with a winning percentage of 71.4 percent. Ole Miss is one of six teams in the SEC with multiple league road wins, having won at South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss (16-7, 7-3 SEC) seeks to double its league road win total with back-to-back road games this week, starting with Alabama on Tuesday night (8 p.m., ESPNU), followed by another road battle at Georgia on Saturday.

"We have embraced the grind," said senior guard Marshall Henderson after the Rebels' 91-88 win over Missouri Saturday, the team's best RPI win to date. "We know every game is going down to the wire, no matter who we play. We just have to fight through and get the win."

Alabama is 9-14 on the season and 3-7 in the SEC after dropping a pair of road games last week at Arkansas and at No. 3 Florida. The Crimson Tide are winless on the road this season, but 9-4 at home. Senior Trevor Releford leads Alabama averaging 18.3 points per game, which is seventh in the SEC in scoring.

The Crimson Tide has the nation's No. 2 overall strength of schedule and No. 9-ranked nonconference schedule, with nine games against teams ranked in the top 50 of the latest RPI (ESPN.com).

"Every game on the road is going to be tough," said Henderson on Saturday. "I watched Alabama and Florida play earlier today, and they played Florida tough. Florida is unstoppable in that building, and they played them tough all the way there until the very end. Alabama is definitely a lot better than their record shows, that's for sure. They have one of the toughest schedules in the whole country." 

Ole Miss shoots better from the field (.453 at home/.390 on road) and from 3-point range (.419 at home/.316 on road) at home and rebound the ball better with a -5.6 rebound margin on the road and an even rebounding margin at home.

The Rebels will lean on its veteran backcourt of Henderson (19.6 ppg) and Jarvis Summers (17.4 ppg), the team's two leading scorers, who rank third and eighth in the SEC in scoring, respectively. 

"Marshall draws a lot of attention, both on and off the court," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "The attention that he draws on the floor, Jarvis has done a much better job in year two of playing with him, of playing in those gaps that are created by the way people try to defend Henderson, and as a result, he's had a very productive year for us."

Ole Miss enters the week ranked No. 51 in the latest RPI, while Alabama (No. 110) and Georgia (No. 113) are rated just outside the top 100. 

The Rebels are 4-6 against top-100 RPI teams this season, highlighted by the win over Missouri. After this week, however, they have back-to-back opportunities with two top-10 RPI teams in Kentucky (No. 10) and Florida (No. 5) coming to the Tad Smith Coliseum.

"If we play like we did tonight, as far as being focused and high energy, it will give us a chance at those places," Henderson said. "We also know that if we get those two, we have probably the biggest week in Ole Miss basketball history with Kentucky and Florida coming in here back-to-back. We have to get these two, starting with the one in Tuscaloosa. We have to get them."

Summers Sparks Second-Half Comeback

Ole Miss outscored South Carolina 29-10 over the last 10:53, as the Rebels rallied for a 75-71 win on Saturday in Oxford. 

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 15-6 overall and 6-2 in Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels also remain in a tie for second place in the league standings with Kentucky, ahead of the teams' meeting on Tuesday in Lexington, Ky.

"I don't know if I have ever been more excited about what I just witnessed than about those last seven minutes," head coach Andy Kennedy said of the team's sense of urgency. "That was big-time basketball. You're down 15 against a team that's playing as well as they have all year. You're on your heels and you made everything happen. 

"You made it happen defensively. You made timely shots. You executed. You came up with loose balls. You made free throws. That was a tremendous effort for a group of guys who deserved it for the work they put in."

Marshall Henderson scored a team-high 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting, followed by Jarvis Summers with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Summers had 10 of his 15 points in the second half, including eight of the Rebels' last 11 points of the game.

"I know Marshall Henderson gets beat up a lot, but he's one of my favorite players because of his charisma, enthusiasm and the way that he elevates he elevates his team in difficult moments, especially," South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said.

Summers hit his first and only 3-pointer of the game to give Ole Miss its first lead since late in the first half at 67-66 with 4:00 left, and after South Carolina regained the lead, Summers answered with a jumper to go up 69-68 and then extended the lead to 71-68 with a contested lay-up at the rim.

"He's been playing like a first-team all-league players," Kennedy said of Summers. "I played him 37 minutes tonight and I'm trying to get a lot of out of him. I have to manage him better, so that he has the energy that I need him to have down the stretch. He's a very good player and works extremely hard. He's been doing this for us from game one. He's been our most consistent guy."

"He took shots and made them," Martin added. "That's what good players do."

LaDarius White and Aaron Jones joined Henderson and Summers in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Jones completed a 3-point play with less than a minute left after South Carolina cut the lead to two at 71-69, as the Rebels closed out the win.

"I told him at the last timeout, 'Stop looking around for Murph(y Holloway) and Reg(inald Buckner). They're gone. You're the guy and go make a play. I need you to make a play and get a ball. We can't ask Sebas(tian Saiz) or Coleby to do it. They have never been in that circumstance before. You have had limited experience, but that's all we have, so you have to go make a play,'" Kennedy said.

Rebels Look To Bounce Back At Home

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Ole Miss looks for the season sweep of South Carolina as the Rebels host the Gamecocks on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Tad Smith Coliseum. In their first meeting, Ole Miss held on to win 75-74 in Columbia, S.C., behind a career-high 22 points from Anthony Perez.

Ole Miss is 5-2 in Southeastern Conference play and tied for second in the league standings with Kentucky, two games behind league-leading Florida. A win over South Carolina would tie last year's team and the 1937-38 team for the best start to SEC play through eight games.

The team's two leading scorers, Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, combined for 42 points while the rest of the team combined for 28 points, with no other Rebels in double figures in Wednesday's 86-70 loss at Tennessee. The Volunteers also held a decisive edge in rebounding (45-27), points in the paint (36-24) and second-chance points (19-4).

"We didn't get a lot of production from anyone other than those two," said head coach Andy Kennedy after Wednesday's loss. "You know Marshall was a volume guy tonight, but he made a few and kept us in it. Jarvis got in some early foul trouble and that took away from his aggressiveness. Those two guys have been pretty steady for us, we obviously have to get contributions from others, and that's really what's allowed us to get off to a 5-1 start, we were getting contributions from other people. Tonight, that wasn't the case."

South Carolina won its first league game Wednesday, an 80-52 home win over Texas A&M, having dropped its first six league games. The Gamecocks shot 52.2 percent from the field while limiting the Aggies to 35.6 shooting. Four players scored in double figures, led by a pair of freshmen in Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell with 19 points each.

"It feels good to win," said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin after Wednesday's win. "As a coach, you sleep a little bit better after a win. If we were 6-0 and got beat today, I would have been miserable. I can't pay attention to the record. I'm happy for our kids. They deserved to win. They went out and earned it. They have stayed positive even though results haven't gone their way. We have to feel good about it, but we can't celebrate that we won because then we will go in there on Saturday and not play well. We have to embrace the process of what we have done."

Ole Miss carries its four-game winning streak into Wednesday night's game at Tennessee (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network), where the Rebels routed the Volunteers, 92-74, in last year's meeting.

As of Tuesday, Ole Miss is No. 57 in the RPI, according to ESPN.com. The Rebels are 2-4 against the RPI top 100, with wins over LSU and Vanderbilt and losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Mercer and Dayton. A win over Tennessee, currently rated No. 53 in the RPI, would be the their fifth road win and their best RPI win of the season, with LSU currently the highest rated win at No. 65 in the RPI.

"We're a pretty confident group," said head coach Andy Kennedy in Monday's media opportunity. "We have won four straight. It's just the next game for us. It's obviously a huge opportunity anytime you get a chance to play a team in the top 60 in the RPI. We all know how the RPI is balanced where they give you a lot more weight if you find a way to break through on the road because everyone realizes how difficult that is." 

Different Tennessee Team From Last Year

With the return of Jeronne Maymon from injury and the addition of Memphis transfer Antonio Barton, it's a different Tennessee team from last year's two meetings, which were both Ole Miss wins. Jordan McRae leads the team, averaging 18.5 points per game, while Maymon and Jarnell Stokes combine for 24.6 points and 17.8 rebounds per game.

Stokes and Maymon are ranked second and third, respectively, in the Southeastern Conference in rebounding. As a team, Tennessee ranks second in the SEC in rebounding margin at +8.9 rebounds per game, and leads the league limiting opponents to 30.6 rebounds per game. The Volunteers also lead the league in defensive rebound percentage (71.5 percent), and rank second in offensive rebound percentage (41.7 percent).

"This (Tennessee) group has experienced a lot, and they're big and physical, so we have to make sure we buckle that chinstrap and understand that there will be nothing easy in Knoxville," Kennedy said.

Ole Miss' Formula For Success

For Ole Miss, the formula for success, as Kennedy said Monday, is pretty simple. It starts with Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, who are both ranked in the top eight among scorers in the SEC. 

Henderson leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation averaging 4.19 3-pointers per game, and has hit a 3-pointer in a school record 52-straight games. Summers has increased his scoring by 8.9 points per game from last season, and ranks in the top five in the SEC in both assists (3.6 assists/game) and field goal percentage (51.7 percent).

"Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards not only in the SEC but in college basketball," said Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin on Monday's SEC teleconference. "Jarvis is putting up tremendous numbers, as far as 55 percent from 3-point line and 50 percent from the field at the point guard position. He's physically strong. Marshall does what he's good at doing, which is making shots, getting open and making plays."

Ole Miss also has to get contributions from a number of different guys, particularly in the frontcourt. Anthony Perez has averaged 14.7 points per game over the last three games, including a career-high 22 points at South Carolina. 

Aaron Jones is ranked third in the SEC with 2.6 blocks per game, and has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of the last four games, while Sebastian Saiz has averaged 8.0 rebounds per game over the last four games.

Replacing Newby

Martavious Newby, another one of those contributors, will be out at least this week as he recovers from a hand injury suffered in Saturday's win over Mississippi State. With Newby's injury, LaDarius White, Derrick Millinghaus and Janari Joesaar will have expanded roles on the perimeter, and it could also mean more minutes for the players in the frontcourt. 

"There's an opportunity there," said Kennedy on Monday's SEC teleconference. "And as we discussed after the (Mississippi State) game, even though his numbers don't jump off the page at you, people who cover us understand the importance of Newby and the energy and toughness that he brings. He's probably our best on-ball defender on the perimeter, so there are a number of different areas that he was very helpful to us. We will have to do it by committee, whether that's a guy playing a few more minutes here or there in different combinations, or opportunities for new guys. That will all be determined moving forward."

Rebels Avenge Earlier Loss At MSU

Ole Miss avenged its 76-72 loss to Mississippi State earlier this season, as the Rebels routed the Bulldogs 82-63 Saturday in Oxford. With the win, Ole Miss improves to 14-5 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play.

"We have to do a good job of protecting home floor," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We let three get away from us, one possession here and one possession there, and those are things that still sting. The challenge was to come in and do what you're supposed to do and that's protect home floor."

The Rebels' two leading scorers, Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, each finished with 19 points, but it's the contributions from the supporting cast that have lifted the Rebels during the current four-game winning streak dating back to their win over LSU on Jan. 15.

LaDarius White joined Henderson and Summers in double figures with 11 points, his fourth game in doubles figures since the start of SEC play. Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones each finished with double-digit rebounds, while Anthony Perez added nine points and seven rebounds.

"We need Marshall and Jarvis to be all-league caliber players, and to this point, they're both playing as such," Kennedy said. "And then we have to get contributions from different people. We knew coming into the year that the biggest void was along our frontline. 

"We're having to do it by committee, and Anthony is getting more comfortable, and as those freshmen get more minutes, we will see more production."

Moving forward, however, Ole Miss will be without Martavious Newby, who suffered a broken hand and will have surgery Monday. Kennedy was unsure if it was a season-ending injury.

"He's a difference-maker," Kennedy said. "We have nobody on our team now that can fill the role that Martavious Newby did. He was starting to emerge and help us in that role. 

"Everybody talked about Anthony and the 22 points he had at South Carolina. Martavious Newby came in and changed the entire flow of the game in the second half by having three steals and keeping two balls alive, which led to baskets that got us back in it. That's the energy and toughness on the ball that he brings."

The Rebels return to action next Wednesday, as they travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Tennessee Volunteers. Ole Miss is currently No. 61 in the RPI, while Tennessee is No. 50, according to ESPN. It marks the first of four games against an opponent with an RPI in the top 50, with Missouri just outside at No 53.


QUOTABLE: "This is not a popular answer, because when people think Mississippi State-Ole Miss, they think Egg Bowl and it's the season-ender. And regardless of what happens in that game, both teams have an opportunity to exhale and then prepare for whatever is next. 

"For us, you can't put that much emphasis on it. It's important to me. A lot of people get a little more excited about this game than they do for the others. For us, it has to be a workman-like approach because we play every three days, and at the end of the day, this is one of 31. I'm certainly glad for Rebel Nation that we gave them something to be excited about." -- Andy Kennedy, on the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivalry

Rebel Preview: 3 Keys To LSU Game

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy meets with members of the media to discuss Wednesday night's game vs. LSU.

Three things from the SEC teleconference on Monday and the Ole Miss media opportunity on Tuesday, previewing Wednesday night's game vs. LSU: 

1. The Return Of 'Batman'

Senior Marshall Henderson, the Rebels' leading scorer and the fourth-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, returns to action after missing the first two league games last week. He has made a 3-pointer in a school-record 48 straight games and ranks third in the NCAA with 4.42 3-pointers per game.

"The advantage with Marshall returning on Wednesday is first and foremost his ability to put the ball in the basket," head coach Andy Kennedy said Monday. "Secondly, it's his ability to be the focal point of LSU's scouting report. I guarantee there will be a lot of Marshall Henderson conversation, and when you don't have him, then the focus shifts to others. 

"Sometimes guys are second or third options for a reason. There are a lot of people who want to be Batman, but they need to be Robin, and we need to get Batman back, so then we can play off the spacing that Marshall creates, and he will be back with us on Wednesday, and I'm sure he will be excited to start SEC play his senior year."

Henderson came off the bench in his first seven games this season. That, Kenendy said, won't be the case Wednesday night against LSU.

"He goes right back into the starting lineup," Kennedy said Tuesday. "We're going to play our best players."

2. Winning The Battle Up Front

Kennedy said LSU has as long, athletic and talented a frontline as there is in the SEC, led by sophomore forward and Cleveland, Miss., native Johnny O'Bryant. He leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rig), followed by freshman forward Jordan Mickey, who averages 13.9 ppg and 7.2 rpg. Another freshman forward, Jarell Martin, is fourth on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg) and third in rebounding (3.7 rpg).

"It's a tremendous challenge," Kennedy said Monday. "We have to be very physical and keep our bodies on them. We can't come into this game thinking that we're just going to out-jump them or out-reach them. They're all long and athletic.

"We have to be very physical at the point of attack. We call it first blood. We have to try to get to the ball first because of their tremendous athleticism, and they are very versatile. When you play those three guys together, with Martin playing the three, it's a long, athletic frontline, so we know they're going to pose a number of different challenges for us."

3. Finding A Third Scorer

Henderson leads the team in scoring (18.8 ppg), followed by junior guard Jarvis Summers (17.9 ppg), who has increased his scoring by 8.8 ppg over last season's average. 

When asked about finding a consistent third scorer, Kennedy specifically mentioned junior guard LaDarius White, who is fourth on team in scoring (7.7 ppg). He is averaging 13.0 points per game through two conference games after averaging 7.7 ppg in nonconference play.

"If there's any silver lining through the first two (SEC games) without Marshall it's that Snoop had to be more aggressive and make some plays," Kennedy said Tuesday. "In the second half in Starkville, when we were making a run and developing a lead, Snoop was the one making the plays for us. If he can carry that confidence moving forward, now that we're into league play, which is when he started playing better for us last year, that would be an added bonus."




Rebels Fall Short At MSU

With just over a minute left in the game, junior guard Jarvis Summers tied the game at 72-72 with a 3-pointer. Mississippi State made one of two free throws on the other end to take a 73-72 lead. 

On each of the next two possessions, the Rebels (10-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) ran possessions to Summers and came away with no points, as the Bulldogs (11-4, 1-1 SEC) held on for a 76-72 win Saturday night in Starkville.

"Some things have become pretty apparent about the Ole Miss Rebels through 15 games," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "There's a pattern that's been formed. We're not going to blow many people out, and we haven't been blown out. Our guys scrap and fight, and it's not always the most pleasing to watch from any vantage point, but we stay in games. 

"And then it comes down to the stretch, and you have to make plays, and the games in which we have made the plays, i.e. two days ago on Thursday night (vs. Auburn), we win. The games in which we don't make the plays, and Mississippi State does, then they win."

Summers finished with a game-high 23 points, his sixth 20-point game of the season, on 7-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.

On the first of those two possessions, he was whistled for traveling on a questionable call. On the second possession, after Mississippi State made two free throws on the other end, Summers drove to the basket, and there was a collision at the ball, but no foul was called.

"Jarvis has been our steadiest player," Kennedy said. "We have said that a lot. At the end, we ran both possessions to him in a one-possession game." 

Junior guard LaDarius White (16 points) and sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus (15 points) joined Summers in double figures for the Rebels. They each knocked down three 3-pointers, as did Summers, and Ole Miss was 10-of-29 from 3-point range for the game.

It was the second straight game in double figures for White and Millinghaus, and it marked a season high for White. 

"Snoop had maybe his best four or five-minute period where he was making shots and being aggressive, and we certainly need production out of him," Kennedy said.

Four underclassmen -- sophomores Anthony Perez and Martavious Newby and freshmen Sebastian Saiz and Martavious Newby -- played double-digit minutes off the bench, and it marked a season-high for minutes played for Perez with 21 minutes. Kennedy credited the Rebels' rebounding edge (47-37) in part to their aggressiveness and energy.

"The advantage to having a veteran team is the kids plays like they have experience," Kennedy said. "It does you no good if you're a veteran and you play as if it's the first time you have been in a college basketball game, and then you're going to opt to play a younger kid to give him the same opportunity that you have given the veteran.

"We may have to turn the page to some of our younger guys and give them the same opportunity as we're giving some of our older guys because we're not playing as experienced as I would hope our upperclassmen would."

Tomorrow will be an off day and a much-needed rest after a Thursday-Saturday swing, especially for Millinghaus and Summers, who logged 72 and 68 minutes, respectively, over the last two games.

Leading scorer and senior guard Marshall Henderson will also return to action, as Ole Miss hosts LSU next Wednesday (8 p.m., CSS). The Tigers (10-4, 1-1 SEC) are coming off a 71-68 win at South Carolina, having lost their SEC opener at home to Tennessee 68-50. 

"I'll give them tomorrow off because we're a little battle fatigued playing guys heavy minutes," Kennedy said. "We had a quick turnaround from Thursday to Saturday to start league play. We have a tough LSU team coming into Oxford on Wednesday, so you have put it behind you and try to get ready for the next challenge."

Supporting Cast Lifts Rebels To Win

Ole Miss hung its 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament Champions banner from the rafters before the game, and the Rebels (10-4, 1-0 SEC) began their title defense with a 65-62 win over Auburn (8-4, 0-1 SEC) in the league opener Thursday night.

Without leading scorer and senior guard Marshall Henderson, four Rebels scored in double figures, led by sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus with 16 points, followed by junior guard Jarvis Summers with 14.

"We found a way to win," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Ultimately, that's what we were trying to do and were fortunate enough to do. I played guys heavy minutes. 

"Jarvis has been our MVP from day one this season, and he certainly didn't have his best game. He looked a little battle-fatigued. Derrick Millinghaus played 35 minutes. That's a lot. He made some big plays for us."

Ole Miss trailed 21-16 with 8:25 left in the first half when freshman forward Janari Joesaar checked into the game, his first action since the North Carolina A&T game on Nov. 26. 

Joesaar sparked a 9-0 run, hitting a 3-pointer and then scoring on a put-back, as the Rebels took a 31-28 lead into halftime. The Tartu, Estonia, native finished with five points and three rebounds in nine minutes, all career highs.

"It was an opportunity for him," Kennedy said. "With Anthony being down, and we had Snoop pick up two early fouls, so we went deeper into the bench than we have been. 

"They're zoning us, and the one thing Janari can do is make open shots. He gave us great minutes and good energy. I told the team that I thought he was the MVP of the game because when we were stagnant offensively, he gave us a big lift."

Early in the second half, Auburn went on a 10-0 run to take 38-33 lead before junior LaDarius White answered with a 3-pointer, his first points of the game. He then hit his second 3-pointer to tie the game at 41-41 with 10:39 left. He finished with 10 points, his first game scoring in double figures since the Louisiana-Monroe game on Dec. 18.

"Snoop stepped up," Kennedy said. "He missed a couple of big free throws. It would have been easy for him to drop his head, and then he stepped up and hit a huge three. He had a couple of really strong drives to the basket and was able to make some plays."

Down the stretch, junior forward Aaron Jones played big for the Rebels. He hit a jumper and then threw down a dunk to extend the lead to 62-57 with 1:46 left. He also grabbed a defensive rebound after a missed Auburn three-pointer when the Tigers were within three at 62-59. He filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds, five steals and five blocks.

Auburn had the ball down 65-62 with 16 seconds left, but the Tigers missed a three-pointer and were unable to corral the offensive rebound.

"The only guy on this year's team who had the same role as last year's team is Marshall Henderson, and he was not dressed out tonight," Kennedy said. "Everybody else has an expanded role, and with that comes more responsibility. You can't look around and think somebody is going to bail you out. Now, you're the guy, and you have to accept that responsibility, but that is a process"

Ole Miss continues SEC play on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday (3 p.m., ESPNU). The Bulldogs (10-4, 0-1 SEC) are coming off an 85-63 loss at No. 14 Kentucky in the SEC opener, having led 40-37 at halftime.

"They have the same cast as last year," Kennedy said. "Those guys have gotten older in Craig Sword, Fred Thomas, Gavin Ware, and Colin Borchert is a senior, so I know they have a number of different weapons. That place has never been very friendly to the Rebels."

Kennedy: 'We Didn't Make The Play'

Ole Miss finishes nonconference play with a 9-4 record, as Dayton hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knock off Ole Miss 83-80 in overtime Saturday. The nonconference included three home losses to Oregon, Mercer and Dayton, as well as a road loss to Kansas State. Two were in overtime, and the other two were one-possession games.

"A tried and true formula is you have to protect your home floor, if you're going to have any aspirations of doing anything meaningful at the end of the season, and we haven't done a good job of that," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have lost two overtimes games and another on a last-second shot. We have been in every game, but our inability to make the play has cost us.

"We have also been in situations where it's helped us. Our non-league schedule has been competitive, and it will pay us dividends down the road. And so, every game is going to a be possession here or a possession there, and unfortunately tonight, we did not make the play."

Ole Miss had one of those such possessions at the end of regulation. Junior guard Jarvis Summers, who finished with a career-high 29 points, had the ball in his hands, but he was tied up driving to the basket, and the jump ball gave Dayton the ball. 

It was Summers' fourth 20-point game in five games, his fifth 20-point game overall this season, as he shot 9-of-15 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Senior guard Marshall Henderson was second on the team with 15 points, all in the second half.

"Jarvis is our best player," Kennedy said. "He's not our most-hyped player, but he is our best player, and he has been all season. Marshall does what Marshall does, and he has the ability to knock down shots. Dayton's mindset, I think, was not to allow Marshall Henderson to beat them, and so when they do that, it takes other players out of the action. 

"We have to be able to take advantage of that, and that's where we're falling short. We got to have other guys step up and make plays because he draws so much attention off that screening action. Jarvis was the one guy who made plays, but to beat Dayton, you better have more than one of those. You got to have more players who step up and make plays. There were opportunities there tonight, and we didn't get it done."

In overtime, the Rebels took an 80-76 lead with 1:11 left after a dunk by junior forward Aaron Jones off a missed three-pointer by sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus. Two scores in two possessions for Dayton, and two turnovers in two possessions for Ole Miss, gave the Flyers the ball tied 80-80 with five seconds left.

"The thing that is disheartening is that the last two possessions, we don't get a shot," Kennedy said.

The Rebels entered Saturday with an RPI of No. 66 according to ESPN.com, and with the loss to Dayton, they are now 1-4 against the RPI Top 100. Ole Miss has a top-100 RPI win over Penn State, with top-100 RPI losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Mercer and Dayton. 

Ole Miss opens Southeastern Conference play at home against Auburn Thursday, followed by a road game at Mississippi State Saturday. The Rebels will be without Henderson for both games.

"As quickly as possible, we have to put this behind us and get our focus on the first week of conference play," Kennedy said. "We have a Thursday-Saturday swing with travel in between, and without Marshall, so we'll have to get back in the gym tomorrow and evaluate the things that we did poorly. We did some good things as well, and we had our opportunities, but again, our inability to make the play cost us. We have to shore up some areas that we're deficient, namely rebounding and defense."

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