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Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Tennessee.

The Ole Miss official website, OleMissSports.com, and the SEC official website, SECSports.com, will have continuous coverage of SEC Football Media Days, as will ESPNU, ESPN and Watch ESPN.

Star power lacking at SEC Media Days, writes David Brandt of the Associated Press

SEC enters new world: Covering itself on TV channel, writes Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com

The best of Steve Spurrier's media day, writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com

South Carolina's energetic Spurrier still on top of his game -- and winning, writes Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com

Wild, Wild West: Bulldogs' Mullen trying to chart course for Atlanta, writes Logan Lowery of the Daily Journal

Take Five: Mississippi State, Mullen lay out their bold plans, writes Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger

Dak Prescott, the SEC's newest star, takes the big stage, writes Bob Carskadon of HailState.com

Looking for the next Steve Spurrier? Look right at Kevin Sumlin and smile, writes Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com

Minus Manziel, Aggies escape microscope, writes Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com

Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin treating Manziel like Johnny Forgotten, writes Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com

Vols hoping for more in Jones' second season, writes Wes Rucker of govols247.com

Butch Jones, Vols enter season optimistic, writes Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com


Coming off a disappointing 6-5 loss in 10 innings Saturday, Ole Miss bounced back with a dominant 12-2 win Sunday to take the weekend series against Mississippi State in Starkville.

At the plate, the Rebels set season high for runs (12) and hits (20), while Sam Smith posted his seventh straight quality start and picked up his fifth win of the season.

"It was our day, and it starts with an attitude and a belief," head coach Mike Bianco said. "When we walked into the team meeting before we got here, I could tell they were ready to go. It was a quiet bus ride back to the hotel last night, but I could tell this morning they were ready to go."

"Yesterday, wasn't a good day at the end for us, but we were all excited to go to bed and wake up and play baseball again the next day," Smith said. "We brought a lot of energy this morning, and nobody could have matched our energy today."

Ole Miss did it all at the plate from the start. The Rebels got the leadoff man on in six of the nine innings, went 13-for-26 with runners in scoring position and 5-for-15 with two outs, including three two-out RBIs. Of the 19 hits, 17 were singles, and six players had multi-hit games.

The one-through-four hitters -- Braxton Lee, Auston Bousfield, Austin Anderson and Will Allen -- were a combined 11-for-20 with two doubles, three walks, five runs scored and five RBI. The same four hitters hit at .407 clip for the weekend.

Anderson tied a career-high with four hits, as he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Bousfield and Preston Overbey had three hits each, followed by Lee, Allen, and Will Jamison with two hits each.

"He can hit the ball out and sprays the ball all over the field," said Bianco of Anderson. "You watch him, and he has so many great at-bats in a row. He continues even when he doesn't get hits. He's just not an easy out up there."

"It was one of those day that everyone was seeing the ball well," Anderson said. We were hitting it, but they weren't. We were aggressive throughout the whole lineup and that definitely helped.

Lee set the table for the Rebels with a 6-for-14 weekend out of the leadoff spot, to go along with three walks, three doubles, three runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases, which gives him 19 for the season.

"With Braxton really swinging it well, and he's such a threat on the bases, it's hard to quantify how that helps the other guys," Bianco said. They really have to defend against the steal and how that helps Boz, Anderson and Allen, not that they need a lot of help with the way they're swinging, but it's certainly a big deal for us."

The 10 runs was a season-high in support of Sam Smith, who did not allow a run until the seventh inning. He left in the seventh after giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in six innings.

"The offense comes out and smacks them in the mouth early and you get to pitch with a lead," Smith said. It's nice to have a little room to breathe."

"It's as good as I have seen him, and that's saying a lot," Bianco said. "He's pitched well. His fastball was really outstanding, throwing the ball down in the zone, throwing ball at the knees, in and out."



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Riding a six-game win streak, Ole Miss travels to face Mississippi State in a three-game weekend series as part of Super Bulldog Weekend, which also includes Saturday's Maroon-White spring football game.

Mississippi State has averaged 7,700 fans at Dudy Noble Field, which ranks third in the nation behind LSU (10,770) and Arkansas (7,871) and just ahead of Ole Miss (7,481) and South Carolina (7,408). Mississippi State has set a goal to break the on-campus attendance record, which the school set in 1989 with 14,991.

"With Super Bulldog Weekend, it's going to be a ton people, and certainly when your rivals come to town," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We have also been to South Carolina. It's exciting for them. That's why people come to play here and play in the SEC. You want to play in those types of atmosphere, so the guys are excited for it."

Ole Miss is no stranger to that type of atmosphere, having played in front of 7,000-plus fans in all three games at South Carolina and four SEC home games with 9,000-plus fans at Swayze Field, including 10,523 at last Saturday's doubleheader against Auburn.

"It seems like every spring game for them, it's something like 12,000 or 14,000," Bianco said. "We draw pretty well here, too. Once you get to that number, it's a lot of people. It's not really the amount of people; it's your rival. That's what playing in the SEC is all about. You have to go play baseball regardless."

NOTABLE

Ole Miss has had a knack for the dramatics with an 8-3 record in one-run games, 6-2 in walk-off wins and 11 come-from-behind wins, none more dramatic than Austin Anderson's three-run walk-off home run in the 13th against Auburn last Friday.

Including a pair of home runs by Will Allen and Sikes Orvis Tuesday against Memphis, Ole Miss has 24 home runs through 35 games, which eclipsed last season's mark of 23 in 62 games. Compared to last season through 35 games, the Rebels have also raised their batting average, from .272 to .303, and lowered their earned run average (2.68 to 2.21) and opponents' batting average (.237 to .219).

QUOTABLE

Head coach Mike Bianco: "We're playing really well. In that (0-4) week, we had trouble putting innings together. We had trouble closing out games and trouble doing a lot of things. This offense has been good and pretty consistent throughout the season."

Junior right-hander Josh Laxer, on the weekend: "It's going to be fun. I can't wait. It's going to be a great series. Two great teams, us and State. It's going to be a battle out there. It's going to end up being who's the most clutch because there are probably going to be some close games, so we're excited about that."

VIDEO: Mike Bianco


Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco recaps Wednesday's 8-5 win over Murray State and previews the upcoming three-game series at Mississippi State starting Friday at 6:30 p.m.


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The Ole Miss women's tennis team continues to rise in the ITA National Rankings, from No. 32 to No. 26 after a sweep of Arkansas and LSU last week. The Rebels have won three straight matches and five of their last seven, with their only losses to two top-10 teams in Georgia and Vanderbilt, and have risen 23 spots in the rankings during that span.

"The last few weeks, starting with the Tennessee match, we have earned that ranking with a lot of hard work in practice and these matches," head coach Mark Beyers said. "We have put ourselves in that position and earned that ranking, so now we have to take it to the next level. All of a sudden, the potential to host is only a couple of big wins away, and we have those opportunities still ahead of us, so we're looking forward to that."

Ole Miss, now 10-5 overall and 4-4 in the SEC, has five league matches remaining starting with intra-state rival Mississippi State on Sunday in Starkville. The Rebels carry a 24-match win streak in the series into the match against what Beyers called probably Mississippi State's best team since 2005.

"This match is just this match," Beyers said. "Whatever happened the last few years doesn't really matter. It doesn't enter into our minds. We have to beat Mississippi State this Sunday, and that's going to be a tough assignment. That's the only thing that's on my mind.

"Our main objective is to take care of this match for this season and work toward a winning record in the SEC. As far as the overall record is concerned, try to get another win and position ourselves even higher in the rankings and potentially get to a point that with one big win, whether that be Texas A&M or Florida later in the year, we get the opportunity to potentially host. All of a sudden, we're not that far away from that. That's really the main objective."

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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."

Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday as well as selected questions and answers from Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings and Georgia head coach Mark Fox.

Ole Miss is the No. 6 seed in this week's 2014 SEC Tournament in Atlanta and will play the winner of 11-seed Vanderbilt and 14-seed Mississippi State in the second round Thursday (approximately 8:25 p.m. CT, SEC TV/ESPN3). The winner of Thursday's game will play 3-seed Georgia in the quarterfinals Friday (approximately 8:25 p.m. CT, SEC TV/ESPN3).

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement:

We're excited about heading to Atlanta and competing in the SEC Tournament coming off a hard-fought win, which will hopefully give our guys some life moving forward.

On Arkansas' big loss at Alabama: 

We're all living on a slippery slope. We played about as poorly as I have ever seen a team play from our vantage point against a team that played about as well as they could possibly play in Arkansas, and then both scripts got flipped. All I saw was the final score. 

I was not surprised so much that Alabama won because Alabama is a good basketball team and it's hard to win on the road, but when I saw the score I was surprised because of how well Arkansas had been playing, and then as poorly as we played, we were able to bounce back and grind out a hard home win. It speaks to my theory, where I don't believe in game-to-game momentum; I believe in in-game momentum. Each game has a life in and of itself, and you have to prepared as such.

On making a run in the SEC Tournament:

Most everyone, especially when you have a lot on the line, you hope that your players would go into with a sense of urgency that the next loss could be your last game. We have one senior, and I know he will be playing with a sense of urgency. When you have a number of different guys who have that sense of urgency, you make plays and special things can happen. 

We were certainly a part of that last year. I had three prominent members of our team, who were seniors, and they were playing with that senior sense of urgency, and we were able to get a last-second win in game one. We had a feeling of relief but also excitement about the potential that the next day held, and that's what you can experience sometimes in tournament play.

On balancing the routine with the excitement of playing in the SEC Tournament:

Heading not the tournament, you try to keep your routine the same. We have been doing this now for a number of months, and you try to stay on the same routine. Once you get into that tournament setting, there's always electricity in that building. The SEC does an outstanding job of creating an electric atmosphere. Guy gets excited about that, and if you can get through that first game, guys are really on edge as it relates to the opportunity that's in front of them.

On Georgia's play through the SEC regular season:

Mark (Fox) and his staff did an outstanding job of getting that team to understand who they were. They were 6-6 in the non-league and when you do that, not many people gave them much hope of moving up in the standings once they got into league play. They looked in the mirror and made the necessary adjustments as to who they were and their best chance to be successful, and they maximized that by having an outstanding run in our league. 

They're playing as well as anybody with a hard-fought win at LSU in the last game. They're playing with momentum and a lot of confidence. They'll be in their home state, and there will be a lot of Bulldogs in the building. Last year, we came into the tournament in a similar mode, where we were tied for second and we got the third seed via a tiebreaker, and then we were able to make our run. Georgia is in a great position.

On the team's mindset entering the SEC Tournament:

I'm like most every coach. We split the season into a number of different quarters going back to our high school days. Now we're in the fourth quarter. This is the postseason. This is the epitome of March Madness, which created this mindset that anything can happen. We lived that last year when we were able to go and have a magical run. That's still fresh on the thoughts of our players' minds. We realized that the task is going to be a daunting one, but at the same time, all coaches try to turn the page and say we're all starting here anew. There's a lot to play for heading into Atlanta.

Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray

Opening statement:

We're getting ready for a well-coached Vanderbilt team. Coach Stallings does about as good a job as anybody in the nation of exploiting some of your weakness, both on the offensive end and defensive end. On the offensive end, for them, they do a great job of running a lot of set plays. When you're playing Vanderbilt, you have to make sure that you rely on your principles more so than just guarding their set because they do a lot of sets, but more importantly they have counters to those sets to exploit anything that you're doing as far as the way you're guarding the basketball.

In the first game against them, Damian Jones got in early foul trouble. He has a world of potential, and he's going to be a really good player in the SEC. Having him available on the court to give them an inside presence, along with their outside shooters and scorers will be a problem for us.

On the team mindset entering the SEC Tournament:

The one thing that we're trying to focus on, because we're playing Vanderbilt, and we played a good game against them. It was a closely contested ball game. We had a couple of chances to cut it to two points under two minutes, and we missed point-blank layups and a couple of tips. You could show them that you had some success against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt, so that's one thing that always helps. The second thing is that we went into the SEC Tournament last year, and it was the first time that we had won a game in the SEC Tournament since 2008 as a program. You try to point to those positive things because the negatives are very obvious.

On the team's depth:

It's a problem. I don't think you can sit here and say that we're on an even playing field with everybody else. Our first year we were playing with six and seven scholarship guys, and this year we played the whole season with seven and eight scholarship guys. There are two things we don't have. We never had the competition for playing time. Any program needs that. The second thing is that I have never had our best teacher, which is the bench. You need that to have that competitive fire in your program all the time. Our guys continue to play hard. Everybody has their bumps and bruises at this point in time. It's more mentally fatigued than physically fatigued. Our guys have to pull it together for the stretch run.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings

Opening statement:

First of all, I would like to congratulate Coach Donovan and the Florida Gator basketball team on their championship. Going 18-0 in our league is an incredible accomplishment, so I congratulate them on a job more than well done. Our team is coming off of two very close games, difficult, similar-type losses from last week. 

We're thankful for the opportunity to play again. Those were two frustrating losses for us last week, but we're hopeful that we can get to Atlanta and play the way we have been playing defensively and maybe play better on offense. Our defense has been good enough in our recent games except for one to really give us a chance to win games, and our offense has not been what we need it to be, so hopefully we can do some things this week can get that rectified and play better offensively and maintain the defensive intensity that we have shown the last few weeks. 

On making a run in the SEC Tournament:

It tends to happen just in the games. You can start to get the feeling in a game. If you win one, maybe you get on a little bit of a roll. There has never been anything that I have sensed going into the tournament when we have done well or when we have done poorly. It's more of thing where you get there, you win a game and then you get a feeling, see some confidence and start playing well, and the confidence gets contagious and it carries you through the weekend. I have never sensed anything in the prior couple days going into the tournament. 

When you win, you gain confidence and momentum is built. In 2004, I remember when we beat Mississippi State, which was league champion that year, in overtime and that was a tremendous situation for us because they had just won the league. That catapulted us not only in that tournament, but that gave us momentum going into the NCAA Tournament as well. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about, winning a big game, winning a tough game, winning a close game, and it continues to provide you momentum.

Georgia head coach Mark Fox

Opening statement:

Our team is excited about the tournament. We're really excited that it's in Atlanta and just down the road for us, so hopefully we will have some support from our fan base there in Atlanta. Our kids are really excited about the tournament, and it should be a great week of basketball in the Georgia Dome.

On this year's team:

Normally, you compare most things in the life to the first time you maybe did something, so I compare of my teams to my first team, which I thought was really a group of overachievers and a team that was picked fourth in the league that won the league and won an NCAA Tournament game and was a joy to coach. Every year, I often compare the team I'm coaching to that group because it was my first one and it was one of my favorite teams. 

This team has been just as much fun to coach. These guys have been a real joy, and I look forward to seeing them every day. They enjoy each other. Throughout the season, whether it is success or failure, they have tried to use things to grow as people and grow as a team. From that standpoint, it's been a process that we have all enjoyed.

On the locker room after the win over LSU:

It was typical. The kids were certainly excited. They had a sense of accomplishment for winning the game because LSU is a good team, and it was a good win. It was typical of a scene after a conference road win. It was not more than that. When you win a road game in this league, it's very hard to do, and so they were excited like they would be for most conference road victories.

On the coach's control of team chemistry:

Coaches do their best to manage the personality of the group, but the one thing that you can't control -- and you can in some instances as you recruit -- is the quality of character. You really have to have people that have great character to strive and achieve, and sometimes you can't control that. You don't know exactly -- even though there is some communication in recruiting -- until you go to battle with someone how they're wired. Fortunately, we have a really good chemistry and some really good character on our team that has allowed us to continue to grow.

On the team entering conference play:

That was a tough time. We had played George Washington in our last nonconference game, and I learned right before that game that my dad was about to pass, and so right before conference play started, I was away from the team for a day or two. I don't know if at that time we had a grasp on what we could accomplish. From day one this year, we felt like we could have a good team. Even though Kentavious left, and we knew there would be some growing pains getting used to his absence, they didn't waver from thinking we could have a good team. It just took a little while to figure out how to do that.

On NCAA Tournament standing entering SEC Tournament:

For the first time, yesterday, since I didn't know whom we would be playing, I took a minute to look at it. I don't know if we will have to win it, but it sure takes the stress out of it if you could do. We would have to advance. To have a legitimate at-large chance, we would have to advance. If you advance, you might as well win it.


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Ole Miss meets Mississippi State for the 249th time Saturday in the Southeastern Conference's most-played rivalry, as the Rebels look to avenge their lone SEC loss of the season on their home court. In their last meeting, Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC) defeated Ole Miss 76-72 in Starkville, Miss., but the Rebels (13-5, 4-1 SEC) were without leading scorer Marshall Henderson (18.7 points per game).

"For us, we have a better feel having played them," head coach Andy Kennedy said on Monday's SEC teleconference. "It's crazy how the schedule works -- you don't play some teams until the end of the season, and we play our in-state rival twice in a two-week period -- but we will do what we do.

"Marshall was a part of our team through 12 of our first 13 games, and then he had to sit out the first two league games, but now he's back and he will have had three games under his belt heading into that game, so infusing him into what we do will not be any different."

The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Henderson is averaging 18.3 points per game over the three games since his return from suspension -- all Ole Miss wins, including a pair of road wins at South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

"Well we just look at it one game at a time, but it's good for us," said Kennedy after Wednesday's 63-52 win at Vanderbilt. "It's never easy on the road, and for us to win two of our first three shows that this team is maturing. Every game is close for us, and every game is hard, and I think our guys are starting to do a better job of that."

Henderson ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring and leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation averaging 4.33 3-pointers per game. Henderson also became the fourth player in school history to join the 1,000-point club in just two seasons.

"It changes their team because you got a guy who's a vocal point of their offense now," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray of Henderson after the Bulldogs' 82-74 win over Auburn Wednesday night. "And the thing that is amazing about Marshall Henderson, no matter what people think about him, he cuts so hard 30 to 35 minutes a game.

"It's really amazing that he can cut that hard for 30 to 35 minutes like that and still make shots. And that changes the perspective of their team. And now you have a guy like (Jarvis) Summers, who's a really good player but he becomes a secondary guy, so it becomes a pick your poison as far as far as how you're going to defend them."

Summers is second on the team and ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring, (17.9 points per game), having increased his scoring 8.8 ppg over his average last season. The Rebels have also gotten increased production from their frontcourt.

Aaron Jones leads the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in rebounding, averaging 7.2 boards per game. He posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against LSU, and then posted eight points, 10 boards, five blocked shots and three steals against Vanderbilt.

Sebastian Saiz scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds against LSU, while Anthony Perez has scored in double figures back-to-back games, including a career-high 22 points against South Carolina. 

For Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC), Craig Sword leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game. Sword scored all 15 of his points in the two teams' last meeting from the free-throw line, having made more free throws than Ole Miss had attempted as a team.

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Three things from Ole Miss women's basketball head coach Matt Insell, previewing the Rebels' game vs. Mississippi State Thursday night:

1. Rivalry Game

This is the 86th meeting all-time between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The Rebels hold a 62-23 series advantage, but the Bulldogs have six of the last seven meetings. Prior to an Ole Miss win last season, Mississippi State had won the previous six meetings, its longest winning streak in the series. 

Head coach Matt Insell said they can't get too high or too low in a rivalry game. He has talked to the team about having poise in all situations and not playing on emotion, particularly in the first four to five minutes of the game.

"It's the next game on the schedule," Insell said. "Rivalry games are important because you want to win them, but it's no more important than the last game was against Arkansas. We're going to attack this game no different than we attacked the Arkansas game or the Vanderbilt game. We're going to go in and prepare for this game the same way. 

"I'm sure there will be an extra edge. There is with our staff, and I know the players will have an extra edge in terms of focusing in and preparing themselves because you always want to beat your rival. It's important not only to you, but it's really important to your fan base and the whole Rebel Nation to get a win over Mississippi State."

2. Breaking Through

With Sunday's 68-65 loss at Arkansas, Ole Miss is now winless in its last 10 SEC games, dating back to the 2012-13 season. However, in SEC play this season, the Rebels have lost three of their five games by nine points or less.

"We're at that point where we're having a chance to win games," Insell said. "Now, we have to win those games. We have to start making that shot when you're open, and we have to start getting that rebound when it comes off. We're right there at that point. 

"I talk about the process. Early on, the process was to convince our team that we can compete in these games. Now that we have shown that we can compete, the process changes. Now, you have to start talking about how we're competing, but how can we finish these games."

3. Following McFarland's Lead

Senior guard Valencia McFarland leads the team and ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring averaging 16.2 points per game. McFarland has scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games with a career-high 28 points against Vanderbilt, followed by 25 against Arkansas, marking her sixth and seventh 20-point game of the season.

McFarland also ranks second in the SEC in assists averaging 6.2 assists per game. Insell noted that McFarland has played at this high level despite teams double-teaming her and doing other things defensively against her.

"She has taken her game to a different level," Insell said. "I have said time after time that she's the best point guard in this league. She's showing that night in and night out. She's going out and giving us what she has to give us. Her game is at a high, high level right now, and other people are taking notice."

VIDEO: Andy Kennedy, Anthony Perez

Head coach Andy Kennedy and sophomore forward Anthony Perez met with members of the media Monday to preview Wednesday's night game at Vanderbilt.

 
Head coach Andy Kennedy looked back on Saturday's 75-74 win at South Carolina and looked ahead to Wednesday night's game at Vanderbilt, as well as discussed senior guard Marshall Henderson's last-second shot to force overtime at Vanderbilt last year and the emergence of sophomore forward Anthony Perez.


Sophomore forward Anthony Perez talked about his career-high 22 points in Saturday's 75-74 win at South Carolina. It was his first career 20-point game, having averaged 4.5 points per game entering the game.

SEC MBB Teleconference 1.20

Selected questions and answers from Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings and Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray. The Rebels travel to Nashville, Tenn., to play the Commodores on Wednesday night (8 p.m., CSS) and then return home to host the Bulldogs on Saturday (3 p.m., SEC Network).

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement:

It's week three of the SEC grind going into a very difficult place to play at Vanderbilt Wednesday night and then following up against Mississippi State, who we just faced a couple of weeks ago, at home on Saturday. It's two more challenges for us.

On close and overtime games:

For us, it's ultimately a window into who we are. We have played 17 games and we are over halfway through our season, and we have played a lot of close games. Not only did we play the three overtime games, but almost every game we play is a one possession here or there that is going to determine winning and losing. 

We better be comfortable in the chaos, which are close games, because that's who we are. A team does grow in the more times you're in a tight situation, and you would hope that guys learn from it and be able to use it to their advantage as the season continues.

On playing Mississippi State for the second time:

For us, we have a better feel having played them. It's crazy how the schedule works -- you don't play some teams until the end of the season, and we play our in-state rival twice in a two-week period -- but we will do what we do. 

Marshall was a part of our team through 12 of our first 13 games, and then he had to sit out the first two league games, but now he's back and he will have had three games under his belt heading into that games, so infusing him into what we do will not be any different.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings

Opening statement:

We had a good win and got our butts kicked, so we had an up-and-down week last week, and we're still trying to strive to achieve some consistency, but we're relatively healthy. 

It's a big week. Mississippi seems to be playing very well right now, and we have had some really close, competitive games with them. We'll have to be very, very read in all phases to play them. They can really score it. They are big and athletic inside. (Jarvis) Summers looks like he's having a terrific year. We know that we have our hands full, but we look forward to getting back into action on Wednesday.

On Marshall Henderson and Texas A&M's Jamal Jones as scorers:

The big thing is having a constant awareness as to where they are at, their proximity to the ball and maybe the angles and the paths that they like to take to get to their shots. It's just a heightened awareness to where great scorers are at all times because that's what makes them great scorers. It is their ability to get to their spot and shot quickly and create a good result from it. 

More than anything else, it's a terrific awareness on everybody's part as to where guys like that are.

On Marshall Henderson as an X-Factor for Ole Miss:

He presents unusual challenges because of his shot-making ability. He has such great ability to make difficult shots. Most great scorers just know how to get themselves -- or their coaches get them -- to the shots that they can make time after time. 

The deal with Henderson is he can just make more difficult shots. They run really good screening action for him, and he is a very fast cutter. He's unique in the way that he can score and really score in bunches. He can get them in flurries -- two, three or four in a row. I would say that he's unique in the way that he goes about it.

On the defenses Marshall Henderson faces being a compliment to him as an offensive player:

The defenses that he probably sees in every game that they play is a compliment to his scoring prowess because people try all sorts of different things, but he still gets his shots and points. A lot of times when you have a great scorer like that, the more you keep it out of their hands, the better chance you feel like you have. 

He's going to get his touches and shots, and thus he's going to get his points because he's going to make shots.

On Marshall Henderson's last-second shot to force overtime at Vanderbilt last year

I was thinking about refraining from doing what my instincts were telling me to do to one of own players for making the mistake to let him get to that shot, which was completely unnecessary and uncalled for, but nevertheless, I wasn't surprised that it went in because he's a great shot-maker. 

As far as him being on the move, he doesn't get many shots standing still because people key on him so heavily. I don't know that he's better on the move or better standing still. He just doesn't get to shoot a lot of shots standing still because there is such an awareness of him on the part of the defense that he's having to make great and difficult cuts to get to the shots that he attempts. 

But again, it speaks to his great shot-making ability because he doesn't get very many easy looks, and he puts up great numbers at a good percentage. There's a lot to admire there relative to the task that he has to get himself open, or to utilize screens to get open, and then to convert.

Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray

Opening statement:

It was a huge win for us against Texas A&M. They came in SEC play leading in field-goal percentage and scoring defense, and I knew it was going to be a grind-out ball game, and I was really disappointed in our team at Alabama in how we shot the ball so early in the shot clock and didn't share the ball. 

It was imperative that our guys realized that with the way Texas A&M plays, it was going to be a grind, and it was. To pull off that win, we had to have that mindset. I'm looking forward to more SEC play.

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