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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.

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.

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."

As Ole Miss prepares for its exhibition game Friday night against South Carolina-Aiken and its season opener Nov. 8 versus Troy, it will be without senior guard Marshall Henderson due to suspension. 

"We knew there was going to be a suspension, and as we were preparing our team, he's been on the second team the entire time simply because we wanted to get some continuity," head coach Kennedy said. 

"We had a closed scrimmage against Arkansas-Little Rock last week, and I didn't play him a lot simply not knowing what to anticipate as it related to him being a part of our team early. Now we know, and we can game plan accordingly."

Henderson will also miss the Rebels' first two Southeastern Conference games Jan. 9 versus Auburn and Jan. 11 at Mississippi State, But for now, Kennedy said he is focused on preparation for the exhibition, then the season opener Nov. 8 versus Troy.

"I have never dealt with that," Kennedy said. "It's kind of unprecedented in the way that it's laid out. For us, we'll deal with it as it relates to him not being there for the opener, and then he'll be back in the mix. 

"And then when we approach Auburn, by then, a lot of the guys like Anthony (Perez) and (Martavious) Newby will have gotten experience. We'll deal with it like we would if we lose anybody at that stage in the season. I don't think about it big-picture right now. We just think about him not playing Friday and not playing in our opener."

For the exhibition and three regular season games, without Henderson, the Rebels will turn to two juniors in Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White and a trio of sophomores in Perez, Newby and Derrick Millinghaus.

"We have a veteran group in our backcourt when you start talking about Jarvis (Summers) as a two-year starter, Snoop (White) who had an opportunity to emerge in his role last year, Derrick MIllinghaus, and we have seen a huge improvement, as I have said from day one, from Anthony (Perez) and Newby in year two," Kennedy said. 

"I think we'll be OK. Obviously, when you lose your leading scorer, different guys are going to have to step up and fill that void."

White, who was sixth on the team in scoring (6.4), having also scored in double figures seven times with one 20-point game, will be expected to carry a larger load and be more consistent this year.

"I need him to take that next step," Kennedy said. "I thought we saw a natural progression between year one and two. He needs to that next step and be a guy we can depend on to be a double-figure scorer. 

"He needs to be a lockdown defender for us on the wing. And he needs to be a rebounder and a facilitator off the dribble. I need him to be involved in every statistical category in order for him to play to his potential and help our team like we need."

For Perez and Newby, who averaged just 6.8 and 6.0 minutes per game last year, there is an opportunity for more minutes this year and to make a progression similar to White last year.

"They're more comfortable," Kennedy said. "Physically, they're stronger. The opportunity is much bigger for them now. We had Nick there last year as a fifth-year senior, and he was guy we were comfortable with because we knew we could trust him. Now, there are minutes to be had, especially early."

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