Results tagged “Ole Miss Basketball”
In case you missed it, here are each of the first six episodes of The Season: Ole Miss Basketball:
Episode 1 (Season overview, Auburn, Mississippi State games)
Episode 2 (LSU, South Carolina)
Episode 3 (Vanderbilt, Mississippi State)
Episode 4 (Tennessee, South Carolina)
Episode 5 (Missouri, Alabama, Georgia)
Episode 6 (Kentucky, Florida)
Ole Miss and Arkansas are both looking to improve their Southeastern Conference standing and possibly play their way into a top-four seed and a double bye to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament next week in Atlanta.
The Rebels are tied for sixth in the league standings with LSU, Missouri and Texas A&M and would be the No. 7 seed if the season ended today. Ole Miss is 2-6 on the road in conference play, having lost five straight road games including a 71-60 loss at Texas A&M this past Saturday.
"We're not playing as well as I would have hoped," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have struggled in a number of different areas. When we put our finger in one hole, another one opens up, whether it's offensive inefficiency or our inability to rebound. We have really struggled, especially on the road, and that continued in our last outing against A&M.
"We have to come in understanding that there are two games left in the regular season, and there is still somewhat of a logjam in the middle of the pack. We're in the middle of that and we have to try to find a way to win some games and put ourselves in the best possible position heading into Atlanta."
Historically, Kennedy and Ole Miss have had success on the road at Arkansas. The Rebels have won four straight at Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena and have taken nine of their last 10 meetings with the Razorbacks.
"I would like to tell you that those prior four games would have some influence on our game Wednesday night, but unfortunately for us, they will not," Kennedy said. "It's a different set of circumstances, different players and different timing. Arkansas is playing as well as anybody in our league, having won five straight. They are playing with a great deal of confidence and a real sense of urgency that you would expect as they are closing in on trying to get into the NCAA Tournament and we know we will have our hands full."
Arkansas has won five straight games, including a 71-67 win at No. 15 Kentucky this past Thursday to complete the regular-season sweep of the Wildcats. The Razorbacks have moved into a tie with Tennessee for fourth in the league standings, but the Volunteers won the only head-to-head meeting and would be the No. 4 seed if the season ended today.
"It should be a great game and a great atmosphere," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "It's Senior Night for our players, so we're looking forward to that challenge against Ole Miss. Everyone is trying to jockey for position at this time of year. We're no different than Ole Miss and everybody else in our conference."
Highlights of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. The Rebels close out the regular season with a road game at Arkansas on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN3) and then host Vanderbilt for Senior Day on Saturday (12:30 p.m., SEC Network).
On Ole Miss' four-game winning streak at Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena:
I would like to tell you that those prior four games would have some influence on our game Wednesday night, but unfortunately for us, they will not. It's a different set of circumstances, different players and different timing. Arkansas is playing as well as anybody in our league, having won five straight. They are playing with a great deal of confidence and a real sense of urgency that you would expect as they are closing in on trying to get into the NCAA Tournament and we know we will have our hands full.
On how Ole Miss is playing of late:
We're not playing as well as I would have hoped. We have struggled in a number of different areas. When we put our finger in one hole, another one opens up, whether it's offensive inefficiency or our inability to rebound. We have really struggled, especially on the road, and that continued in our last outing against A&M.
We have to come in understanding that there are two games left in the regular season, and there is still somewhat of a logjam in the middle of the pack. We're in the middle of that and we have to try to find a way to win some games and put ourselves in the best possible position heading into Atlanta.
On the disparity in how teams play at home versus on the road:
That's probably typical of most team in college basketball. For whatever reason, teams don't seem to play as well on the road. I can just speak personally about our group. We have some inexperienced guys at a number of different positions, and even the guys we had returning are playing expanded roles.
With that comes a little bit of hesitancy and not playing with the same swagger you play with at home, when you can feed off the emotion of the crowd and you're more in the your comfort zone, and as a result, you don't play as confidently as you need to play on the road to make the plays that ultimately decide winning and losing.
On Marshall Henderson's season:
He's certainly been a marked man. His numbers are about the same. He's a volume guy. He broke the record for most threes attempted in a season, and he's leading the nation in 3-pointers attempted again. He's the same guy. He's a volume guy who we need to make shots. He's been more focused this year, and his game has developed as it relates to understanding and staying within the lines and playing with the right sort of focus. He hasn't varied a lot.
Our biggest problem is we have lost two guys up front who were pillars in our program for a number of years, and we have replaced them with younger and inexperience guys, and as a result, we're not being productive up front.
On Arkansas' roster and depth:
It shows that they have depth and quality of depth. Ky Madden has developed into an all-league level player that everybody envisioned him having the opportunity to be. Michael Qualls has made that huge transformation from freshman to sophomore. They had (Alandise) Harris sitting out and you add a Bobby Portis to that.
And then all of sudden, Mardracus Wade, who has played a lot of minutes in that program, (Anthlon) Bell, who didn't play as much last year, are now more seasoned and playing with a sense of urgency simply because they obviously want to get on the floor, and Mike (Anderson) has them playing at a very high level.
As we get ready to finish up with conference, we face an Ole Miss team that everyone knows is a very explosive team. They have great guard play with Henderson, and I have always been impressed with Jarvis Summers. He's the head of that basketball team, and Henderson is an outstanding player.
It should be a great game and a great atmosphere. It's Senior Night for our players, so we're looking forward to that challenge against Ole Miss. Everyone is trying to jockey for position at this time of year. We're no different than Ole Miss and everybody else in our conference.
On Coty Clarke earning SEC Player of the Week honors:
It's good to see his emergence. Being a junior college player, he now feels a lot more comfortable. He's a glue guy and does so many things for our basketball team. He's taken a leadership role, and now we see him doing a lot more things offensively and playing explosively.
There's a reason why we recruited this young man coming out of junior college. He was one of the better rebounders in the country. He has nose for the ball and the game. To see him have an opportunity to be recognized as a Player of the Week tells you know how well he's playing at this point with our basketball team.
We had a tough week last week. We played fairly well in one game and very poorly in the other. We have a few days here since we don't play until Thursday to hopefully, maybe fix ourselves a little bit.
Nevertheless, we had a difficult against LSU the first time. We got whipped pretty good. We will have to certainly make some adjustments and play a lot better this time around. They have a very talented team and a very good team. We look forward to the week and hopefully we can play better and have better success than we did last week certainly.
Lt. Col. Christopher Davis surprises his family with an early return home from overseas at the Ole Miss-Alabama basketball game Wednesday night.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Col. Davis gets ready in media room without his family knowing.. pic.twitter.com/nmXnlycxfi-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) February 27, 2014
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.
Five Southeastern Conference teams enter Wednesday action with 7-7 league records, creating a five-way tie for fourth place in the standings, which takes on added importance because of the fourth and final double-eye to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Ole Miss is among those five teams, as it enters the final four games of the regular season starting with Alabama Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Rebels enter Wednesday's matchup, having lost four straight games since a 91-88 win over Missouri on Feb. 8.
"We need to try to find a way to stop the bleeding," said head coach Andy Kennedy on Monday's SEC teleconference."
The four-game skid started with a 67-64 loss at Alabama on a last-second 3-pointer by the Crimson Tide's Trevor Releford. It continued with a 61-60 loss at Georgia and then back-to-back home losses to top-20 teams in No. 18 Kentucky (84-70) and No. 2 Florida (75-71).
"It's easy to look back and live in the world of would have, could have, should have," Kennedy said. "You can see the finish line. You have two weeks left in the regular season leading to Atlanta. We know we have five more games. How we play in those five games will determine what happens next.
"My hope is that we're just anxious to play again because it's been two weeks since we have won a game. It's not a good feeling. I want our guys to share that sentiment and look forward to having the next opportunity."
In the first meeting, Releford scored 16 of his team's final 20 points and finished with a game-high 26 points. Releford leads the team and ranks fifth in the league averaging 19.0 points per game. He also leads the team and ranks among the six players in the league in field goal percentage (50.8%), free throw percentage (88.6%) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.4%).
"He's a first team all-league player," Kennedy said. "They have their ups and downs, as we have all had. If a few games had gone the other way in Alabama's favor, he would be in the conversation for most valuable player in the league simply because of what he means to their team.
"He's had a terrific career. He's been very steady and very consistent, and he's really improved, which is a credit to Anthony (Grant) and his staff. He was a guy who's always been very good with the ball, fast in the open floor, but his ability to develop perimeter shooting and his ability to make perimeter shots has really made him a difficult cover."
Alabama is 11-16 on the season and 5-9 in the SEC, having played the nation's third-toughest schedule (ESPN.com). Away from home, the Crimson Tide is 0-12, including 0-7 in the SEC. After a 63-48 loss at Texas A&M Thursday night, Alabama rebounded with an 80-73 over Missouri at home Saturday.
"It's been a rough year for us, in terms of some of the tough losses that we have had, in nonconference and conference play," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. Our guys have had to battle. Some games we have performed well and come up short, one or two possessions. Other games we have not performed well and not been as close."
When asked about the win over Missouri starting a wave of momentum, Grant said that each game has a life of its own, and Wednesday's rematch with Ole Miss is no different.
"That one game, certainly, was a great character win," he said. "Now, we have to be able to learn the lessons from that, good and bad, and move forward and understand that we're going to get a completely different look when we go on the road here for Ole Miss."
Highlights of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Alabama head coach Anthony Grant and Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy. The Rebels host Alabama on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN3) and then travel to Texas A&M on Saturday (6 p.m., Fox Sports Net).
There are two weeks remaining in the regular season. There is a logjam at 7-7 with a number of different teams. It's an important week for us, as we have one at home and one on the road. We need to try to find a way to stop the bleeding.
On seeing a seven-way tie for anything, anywhere:
I have never seen it. Last year, we were in a situation where we able to win our last two regular season games to tie for second and we got the 3-seed and a double bye in the tournament. It all really was dependent on three or four different teams and playing that last day. Florida has separated itself at the top, but everything else is still up for grabs as it relates to how teams play down the stretch.
On the importance of the double bye:
We were a beneficiary of that last year. We got the double bye and we were able go and cut down the nets. It's really big if you have aspirations. We go into the tournament needing probably to get to the finals to give ourselves a chance for an at-large. Thankfully, we took it one step further. It plays a huge part of day three, when it was our second game, and it was Vanderbilt's third game. We were playing them in the semifinals. It certainly took a toll on Vandy's legs, and it was an advantage to us. Getting the double bye is a huge advantage. A team that's in that position will be going to be going to Atlanta with aspirations of getting into the field. These last two weeks hold a lot of importance.
On the difficulty of taking each game as it presents itself and not look back:
It's easy to look back and live in the world of would have, could have, should have. You can see the finish line. You have two weeks left in the regular season leading to Atlanta. We know we have five more games. How we play in those five games will determine what happens next. My hope is that we're just anxious to play again because it's been two weeks since we have won a game. It's not a good feeling. I want our guys to share that sentiment and look forward to having the next opportunity.
On Trevor Releford:
He's a first team all-league player. They have their ups and downs, as we have all had. If a few games had gone the other way in Alabama's favor, he would be in the conversation for most valuable player in the league simply because of what he means to their team. He's had a terrific career. He's been very steady and very consistent, and he's really improved, which is a credit to Anthony (Grant) and his staff. He was a guy who's always been very good with the ball, fast in the open floor, but his ability to develop perimeter shooting and his ability to make perimeter shots has really made him a difficult cover.
We have the second game we have played this year against Ole Miss, this one on the road. They were a very talented team the first time we played them. We're looking forward to the opportunity to try to go to Ole Miss and get a win. And then we come back and play a rivalry game with Auburn here at home. We had a tough loss at their place earlier in the year. It's a big week for us, and I'm looking forward to getting prepare for these two games.
On Levi Randolph:
It was a good win for us against Missouri. Levi was a big part of that. I'm really happy for him that he was able to come out and have that type of performance. I'm happy for our team to be able to get the win. At the end of the day, the most important thing for Levi is for the team to win, and for him to be a big part of that is a very positive thing for him as we move forward in the season.
On Nick Jacobs' status and how Jimmie Taylor has stepped up with the extra minutes:
There is no update with Nick's status. Jimmie, the two games this past week, played 35 minutes at A&M and played 25-26 the other night against Missouri. He's a guy who's developing as a freshman with the experience that he is getting going against some of the elite guy in our league, in terms of frontcourt guys. He's done a really job for us on the defensive end, learning how to rebound the ball in traffic against the size and physicality in the SEC. He's still developing and still continues to need to develop from an offensive standpoint. The more experience he gets, the more comfortable he gets in terms of what he's able to do and understand where he needs to grow. As an 18-year-old freshman in this league he has a very bright future.
On the "character" victory over Missouri:
It's been a rough year for us, in terms of some of the tough losses that we have had, in nonconference and conference play. Our guys have had to battle. Some games we have performed well and come up short, one or two possessions. Other games we have not performed well and not been as close. A lot of times when you see teams going through some of the struggles that we go through, you begin to worry in terms of how they feel in terms of the work that they're putting in and the results they're getting. I called it a character win because our guys have approached practice the right way, in terms of preparing for every game and approach their preparation and putting themselves in position to win. It was a tough loss on the road at Texas A&M on Thursday night. Weather caused us to spend the night in Texas. We came back about 3 o'clock. On the way from the airport to campus, the bus broke down, and the guys had to wait to get another bus to bring them to campus. We had an evening practice in preparation for Missouri the next day. They did a great job of being able to lock in. Coming off a loss like that and to respond the way they did in less than 24 hours, it showed great character by our guys.
On the Missouri win starting a wave of momentum?
Each game has a life of its own. I have been doing this long enough where you understand as a coach that every game presents different challenges. That one game, certainly, was a great character win. Now, we have to be able to learn the lessons from that, good and bad, and move forward and understand that we're going to get a completely different look when we go on the road here for Ole Miss.
On the seven-way tie for fourth place in the SEC standings and importance of upcoming games:
That's definitely a lot of times team tied. I'm sure there's not another league in the country with that situation. In general, there is parity in college basketball. You have some heavyweight teams in each league. You look at the ACC, you look at the Big Ten, you look at the Pac-12, you look at the Big 12, and we follow the Big 12, having been in it, and you have teams with losing record that were once top-10 teams. It's college basketball. It's just not our league. Our league gets beat up, but it's not any different from any other league. A lot needs to be said about college basketball in general that there are about four to six heavyweight teams, and then it's the rest of us. It's kind of what college basketball is all over the map.
On the importance of the double bye:
It would be tremendous for all these teams that are 7-7 because there's not a big difference, and most of us have depth problems. We're not very deep. We have most of our teams back. It would be interesting to see how many seniors are on those 7-7 teams and how many teams will have guys back. To have some momentum going into the end of the season and hopefully some type of postseason play, and to have all those guys coming back for next year is something to build on.
Marshall Henderson hit five 3-pointers and scored all 22 of his points in the first half, as Ole Miss and No. 2 Florida went into halftime tied 42-42. It was the most points that the Gators, who led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense (57.8), had allowed in a half this season.
In the second half, Florida held Henderson to 0-of-6 shooting, including 0-for-5 from the 3-point line, as the Gators held the Rebels to 29 second-half points in a 75-71 win Saturday in Oxford.
"In the second half, we had our chances," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We gave a winning effort, but you have to make plays to beat what will be the number one team in the nation in a couple of days. You have to make plays. We had our chances. We were up three or four. We had untimely turnovers, dribbling off our leg, not finishing plays and when Marshall does not score in the second half, it limits our options."
"He had similar looks," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "Maybe we stretched him a little bit in terms of pushing him further out than he was in the first half. I have said this before with him. You're not going to prevent him from shooting the ball. He's just going to shoot it from wherever he gets it, and a lot of times you're at the mercy of whether it goes in or not. In the second half, it did not go in as much as it certainly did in the first half."
Coming out of the under-eight media timeout, Florida scored five straight points to take a 64-59 lead with 4:43 left, and Ole Miss could not cut into the lead the rest of the way, as the Gators made their free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
The shooting numbers and rebounding numbers were comparable, with Florida shooting 44.4 percent from the field, while Ole Miss shot 45 percent. Florida won the rebounding battle, 34-32, but the Gators turned it into a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points.
"You can't keep getting outrebounded," Kennedy said. "We play a possessions game. We shot 45 percent from the floor, and they shot 44 percent from the floor. We have to find someone who can go get hard rebounds. Maybe when those freshmen become sophomores can go get them. Maybe those juniors once they become veterans can go get them. I don't know. It's certainly been an issue for us from day one, and it continues today. We all know what the problem is. We have to keep working on fixing it."
Since a 91-88 win over Missouri two Saturdays ago, Ole Miss has lost four straight entering its last four games of the regular season starting with Alabama at home Wednesday. The rest of the way, Kennedy said, the focus is not on the NCAA Tournament but simply improvement and winning a game.
"I haven't one time said we were an NCAA Tournament team," Kennedy said. "I know that has to be in every sentence and every category. We haven't earned our way into that conversation, so we're not relevant as it relates to that conversation left. This time last year, we weren't relevant either. We still have five basketball games left, and if we can win our share of those five, maybe we earn our way into that conversation."
"We did what we needed to do earlier in conference play. We had a couple of heartbreaking losses on the road. We had two opportunities here at home, and we did not get it done, bottom line. I'm not talking NCAA Tournament with this team. Let's improve. Let's win a game. It's been two weeks since we have a won game, which seems like an eternity. Let's get back focused on Alabama."
Last time out, Ole Miss rallied to get within six, down 76-70, with 1:49 left, but fell 84-70 to No. 18 Kentucky in Oxford Tuesday. It was the Rebels' third straight loss, having lost heartbreakers at Alabama and at Georgia the previous week.
Ole Miss looks to snap its current losing streak and notch a marquee win, as it hosts No. 2 Florida, which has won each of its first 13 SEC games and a school-record 18 straight games after a 71-66 home win over Auburn Wednesday.
"I know that we have the No. 2-ranked team in the country coming into our building in a couple of days, and my hope is that they will be excited about having that opportunity," said head coach Andy Kennedy of his team's mindset entering Saturday's game.
Florida, ranked No. 3 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index (ESPN.com), is not only an opportunity for Ole Miss to boost its RPI, which has dropped to No. 75, but a win over the Gators would give the program its highest-ever win over a ranked opponent.
"They're a very good basketball team," Kennedy said. "The four seniors, they are better collectively than they are when you start breaking them down individually. That's not a slight on them individually, but they are truly a consummate team. It's Billy (Donovan)'s job since I have been a part of the league for eight years, and one of those was a national championship.
"He's maximized this group, and they have developed guys that were 'role players' in the past into all-league-type players. I have been really, really impressed with them as a team. We're going to have to play an 'A' game to give ourselves a chance from an effort and efficiency standpoint. We have to make sure that we take the right approach to have a chance to beat a team of their caliber."
The Gators lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense (57.8 ppg) and scoring margin (+12.8). On the glass, where Ole Miss ranks last in rebounding margin (-4.1), Florida ranks third in rebounding margin (+5.8), second in defensive rebounding percentage (70.7%) and fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (37.3%).
"We have to do what we do," said Kennedy of Florida's defensive pressure. "We have to be efficient. We weren't very efficient against Kentucky, and they exposed us. We have to be efficient because I don't anticipate the game being as many possessions based on the way that they play. We have to be efficient offensively."
Four players average double figures for the Gators, led by two of the four seniors in Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin, who average 15.7 and 13.6 points per game, respectively. Prather also leads the league and ranks fourth in the nation with a 62.8 field goal percentage. Kennedy said he anticipates Wilbekin to guard Marshall Henderson, who leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation averaging 4.48 3-pointers per game. Henderson also ranks third in the league in scoring at 20.2 ppg.
"He's a terrific on-ball defender," Kennedy said. "Our anticipation would be that he is going to guard Marshall off the ball. He's very, very good at fighting through screens and reading defenses. He has improved his ability to make plays with the ball. In the past, he has always deferred, whether it be to Kenny Boynton or whether it be to Erik Murphy, whoever it may be. Now he's the guy. When the game is on the line, he's going to make plays off the bounce."
"Andy (Kennedy) puts him in a lot of really, really good situations for him," said Florida head coach Billy Donovan of Henderson. "Since I have been in this league, I don't recall a players as fast as he is coming off screens and getting shots off. He is incredible doing that. There are times that you play really, really good defense and it doesn't make a difference. That's probably a tribute to Henderson and his ability to shoot the ball. He is a unique, talented player. The thing that I admire most about him is what a great competitor he is and how much he loves playing. He's certainly a handful to get ready for, but they also have a lot of other good players besides who him are playing well."
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy met with members of the media Thursday, ahead of the Rebels' home game against the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators on Saturday (11 a.m., CBS).
On the team's mindset entering the game against Florida:
I don't know. I know what my mindset is. If I could be a mind-reader, it would certainly help me in my profession. I know this. I know that we have the No. 2-ranked team in the country coming into our building in a couple of days, and my hope is that they will be excited about having that opportunity
On what Martavious Newby brought in Tuesday's game against Kentucky and the difference that he made:
There was a noticeable difference. It's the ability to fight. That's what you want as a coach. You're not always going to win every game. You're not always going to make every shot. Sometimes you can do everything that you're supposed to and still come up short and be out-manned a little bit. You just want to see guys fight.
He brought us great energy, which he normally does. He got balls and kept balls alive. Those 50-50 balls, those possessions that we always talk about, he did a good job of keeping balls alive, fighting, giving us extra possessions and giving us a chance.
On Newby taking a step back offensively because the team needed him as a defensive, scrappy presence:
When we signed him, I described him as a 6-foot-3 version of Murphy (Holloway). He's a position-less guy, but he's always around the ball. He plays with great physical toughness. He's always in attack mode. That's really the thing that he can bring this team that we lost for the three weeks that he was gone.
On Newby being full-go Saturday:
I hope so. He's been cleared medically. We didn't know how quickly he would respond to the basketball aspect of it. He practiced the day before Kentucky and did well. I went in not really expecting to play him because I didn't want to put him in a position that he wasn't ready for physically. We certainly needed him, and he responded in adverse circumstance. My intention is to certainly play him Saturday.
On matching up with Florida:
They're a very good basketball team. The four seniors, they are better collectively than they are when you start breaking them down individually. That's not a slight on them individually, but they are truly a consummate team. It's Billy (Donovan)'s job since I have been a part of the league for eight years, and one of those was a national championship.
He's maximized this group, and they have developed guys that were "role players'" in the past into all-league-type players. I have been really, really impressed with them as a team. We're going to have to play an "A" game to give ourselves a chance from an effort and efficiency standpoint. We have to make sure that we take the right approach to have a chance to beat a team of their caliber.
On Florida's 71-66 win over Auburn on Wednesday:
Auburn played extremely well. They made shots. Any time that you can shoot the ball at about a 50 percent clip -- Auburn was over 50 percent from 3 -- and held their own in a number of different areas, which gave themselves a chance down the stretch. For Florida, it was not their best game, and Billy admitted that, and yet they still found a way to win. That's what good teams do.
On this Florida team compared to the 2006 and 2007 Florida National Championship teams:
They are different. Those championship teams had lottery picks on them. Joakim Noah is an NBA all-star, Al Horford is an NBA all-star, and Corey Brewer is an NBA starter. I'm not saying that these kids don't have futures in basketball, but it's a different dynamic from a size and strength standpoint.
Scottie Wilbekin has to be in consideration for Player of the Year in our league. He's certainly the most valuable player for what he brings their unit. Casey Prather is having a terrific year, going from a 5-to-15 minute a game guy to a guy who's leading them in scoring. Patric Young, it seems like he's been there 25 years. He's certainly been in the weight room about those 25 years. He's a big, strong guy whose game has developed. He's developed a low-post scoring ability that he didn't have in the past. He's always been very, very physical imposing. They have a consummate team.
On Wilbekin improving as a perimeter defender:
He's a terrific on-ball defender. Our anticipation would be that he is going to guard Marshall off the ball. He's very, very good at fighting through screens and reading defenses. He has improved his ability to make plays with the ball. In the past, he has always deferred, whether it be to Kenny Boynton or whether it be to Erik Murphy, whoever it may be. Now he's the guy. When the game is on the line, he's going to make plays off the bounce.
On handling Florida's defensive pressure:
We have to do what we do. We have to be efficient. We weren't very efficient against Kentucky, and they exposed us. We have to be efficient because I don't anticipate the game being as many possessions based on the way that they play. We have to be efficient offensively.
On coaching toughness with the frontcourt players:
It's a lot about who they are, but we have to develop that. You can develop toughness by accountability and by continuing to be consistent in your approach. Some of the things that we're dealing with are youth and inexperience. My hope is that as we continue to pile up these lessons and games, they will grow from that.
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."