Results tagged “Ole Miss Men's Hoops”
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.
Georgia took a 74-73 lead with 17 seconds left on a lay-up from sophomore guard Charles Mann after two offensive rebounds.
On each of its last two possessions, Ole Miss went to their main options, senior guard Marshall Henderson and junior guard Jarvis Summers, but both of their 3-point attempts were off the mark, as the Bulldogs held on for the 75-73 win in quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament Friday.
Summers led all scorers with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor and 6-of-10 from the free throw line. Henderson was second with 19 points but was just 5-of-21 from the floor and 2-of-16 from 3-point range.
"It was hard," said a visibly emotional Henderson after the loss. "There are so many thoughts running through my head about everything that it took to get to here, and then to go out like that, it's crushing in my heart because I wanted it so bad for everyone. Coach (Kennedy) talked about effort. The effort was good, but I take the blame for all that. It hurts."
"It's disappointing," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He feels like he let us down. You have to dance with who brought you. We are who we are. We couldn't automatically then go to the other option. We went with our options. For us to be in the game when you shoot 2-of-25 (from 3-point range) is a testament to our grit and fortitude. We were one rebound away from maybe not having to depend on making a shot at the end. We couldn't secure a rebound. They had three opportunities, and their point guard chased down the ball and put them in the lead. We had the two guys that we wanted shooting our last two shots. It just didn't go."
The Rebels, 19-14 overall, must now await their postseason fate. Kennedy said he thinks there's a chance of receiving an NIT bid on Sunday, but that's far from certain.
"I think you saw, Marshall would want to go out on a different note," Kennedy said. I know that he would be excited to play. He likes to play. Jarvis Summers, if I asked him to, would go out and play again tonight. He's going to do whatever you ask him to do. We have a young, young front line. Every rep that we can get Dwight Coleby, Sebastian Saiz, Anthony Perez, that would be an added bonus."
If this is the end for Henderson and the Rebels this season, the senior from Hurst, Texas leaves behind a decorated two-year career in the Red and Blue that included Most Valuable Player of last year's SEC Tournament, as he helped lead Ole Miss on a run through the field to the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.
None of that, however, was on Henderson's mind after what might have been his last collegiate game.
"I don't know," he said of his legacy. "I'm not really concern about that right now. I'm just thinking about this loss."
"I talk about his energy and passion coming from a good place," Kennedy added. "You can see that. You don't see many 23-year-olds crying anymore. That's not cool. He wears his emotions on his sleeves. Sometimes those are misinterpreted and sometimes he steps over the line. I appreciate that he owns it. He is what he is."
Henderson was later asked about his future, and he answered that he plans to finish his degree, and as far as where basketball will take him, he said he's going to get in there and work and see whatever happens, happens.
"Go back to the hotel and go to sleep first, and then wake up and go back to Oxford, try to finish up this degree and get done in May and get to walk," Henderson said. "That will be my next thing. I never thought that it would be that important, but when it gets closer to the end, you start to realize that you want to get something done."
Ole Miss finished on a 40-15 run over the last 16:42 of the game to rally past Mississippi State 78-66 in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday.
Ole Miss was 14-of-25 (56.0 percent from the floor), including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, in the second half, and it carried over to the defensive end, where the Rebels held the Bulldogs to just 4-of-23 (17.4 percent) shooting from the field.
"We have to come out with that sense of urgency that we played with in the last 10 minutes," said head coach Andy Kennedy after the win over Mississippi State. "It was probably the best half we have played offensively in a long time. When you see 56 percent from the floor, we outrebound them. We have a positive assists-to-turnover ratio, Marshall and Jarvis made some shots, and we got contribution from a number of other guys. It's probably the best half we have played offensively in a while."
With the win, Ole Miss advances and continues its Southeastern Conference tournament title against No. 3 seed Georgia in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The Rebels look to avenge a 61-60 earlier this season in Athens, where second team All-SEC selection Charles Mann hit one of two free throws with 1.5 seconds left to win the game.
"Oh, yeah, definitely ready to play them again," said senior guard Marshall Henderson, who had a game-high 21 points against Mississippi State. "They got us. What I remember is Gaines had a really good game. He shot the ball well. We had our chances, but we had a couple bonehead mistakes that hurt us in the end. We're excited for the opportunity to play them again."
Georgia finished tied for second in the league standings with a 12-6 mark in the SEC to grab the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Mann and fellow sophomore guard Kenny Gaines lead Georgia averaging 13.4 points per game and are the only two players averaging double figures for the Bulldogs. They combined for 38 of the team's 61 points in their first meeting with Ole Miss.
"It's going to be a rugged game," Kennedy said. "Mark Fox has done a great job of righting that ship and making the necessary adjustments. His team has figured out who they are and they have embraced hard. It's what I'm trying to get my group to do. You got to embrace hard. It's hard to win. I don't care who you're playing or where you're playing, it's hard to win.
"So I think his group embraced hard, and they're really playing. They developed an identity. It was a knock down, drag out. They were up, we get back the lead, couldn't finish it, missed some crucial free throws, and then Charles Mann made a winning play."
Three stats, which have been key to Georgia all season, were key to the Bulldogs in the first meeting: field goal percentage defense, free throws and rebounding. Georgia leads the league in field goal percentage defense (39.5 percent) and held Ole Miss to a season-low 32.2 percent from the floor.
Georgia ranks second in the league behind Kentucky averaging 27.3 free throw attempts per game and went 20-of-28 from the line against Ole Miss, led by Mann, who was 12-of-16, including the go-ahead free throw. The Bulldogs are fifth in rebounding margin (+5.0 rpg) and outrebounded Ole Miss 49-34.
"It's going to be a hard matchup for us," Kennedy said. "There is one advantage. Mississippi State showed early tonight that when you get a win in this building it helps you initially. Did they get a little tired at the end? I think again it was because they weren't making any shots. It's easy to lose your momentum when the ball doesn't go in.
"But I think tomorrow early we should have a little bit of an advantage because we've seen the ball go in the basket for us, most especially in the second half. So hopefully we can take that approach."
Ole Miss outscored Mississippi State 43-22 in the second half, as the Rebels rallied for the 78-66 win in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday night in Atlanta. With the win, Ole Miss advances to play No. 3 seed Georgia in Friday night's quarterfinals.
Mississippi State took a 44-35 lead into halftime behind 58 percent shooting, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. In the second half, Ole Miss flipped the script.
The Rebels shot 45 percent, while they held the Bulldogs to 17 percent from the floor, and it translated to the both teams' energy on both ends of the court.
"When you make shots, it's amazing how much energy you have," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "When you miss shots, that energy goes away quickly. In the first half, they were making shots and they were hopping all around the gym. We couldn't make one. We were just trying to stay in the game. The script got flipped in the second half. In the second half, we started making them, and they were struggling a little bit."
"Something kicks into gear with about 10 minutes left to go in the second half," said senior guard Marshall Henderson, who finished with a game-high 21 points. "For whatever reason, our sense of urgency goes up a lot more, and the focus become more effective."
Down one, 56-55, Henderson drew a charge with 8:39 left, and on the next possession, the Rebels took their first lead, 57-56, on a lay-up from junior guard LaDarius White. From there, Mississippi State would lead just once the rest of the way, as Ole Miss finished on a 40-15 run over the last 16:42 of the game.
"I'm just trying to make a big play somewhere else," Henderson said. "That's what coach emphasized. Coach (Kennedy) always says players made plays. A lot of times we get to thinking that it's only on the offensive end, and he always tries to reiterate to us that you can make a big play on defense, if you want to."
After going 3-for-12 from the field, including 3-from-10 from 3-point range in the first half, the shots started to fall for Henderson in the second half, as he was 4-of-9 from the field -- all from 3-point range -- in the second half. It included back-to-back 3-pointers after a 3-pointer from junior guard Jarvis Summers, who also finished with a game-high 21 points, to stretch a 62-60 lead to 71-60 and put the game out of reach with 2:42 left.
"I was feeling it there in the first half," Henderson said. "There three or four of them that rolled in and out. It was the most roll in-and-outs I have ever had, but they were there. Then, it got to crunch time, and shots had to be made."
"They were struggling missing shots, and they could feel the momentum start to turn," Kennedy said. "They were in control for about 30 of the 40 minutes, but we kept coming and we kept coming. You look up, and we go from being up two, to being up eight, to being up 12, and that's when they got a little bit slower and Marshall had an opportunity to put down a couple of daggers, and he did."
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."
It's a similar road to last year, as Ole Miss begins its SEC Tournament title defense on Thursday against the winner of the Vanderbilt-Mississippi State game. This year, a similar run would take an extra game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Ole Miss is the No. 6 seed, and the winner of Thursday's game advances to play No. 3 seed Georgia in Friday's quarterfinals, the round where the reigning SEC Tournament champion began its run through the field a year ago.
"There's not as much pressure," senior guard Marshall Henderson said. "Looking at the road that we have, we're excited about it. We're in the same position. We have the same path. We have to win one more game."
"We ended up finishing in the six seed, which as Marshall said, it's really the same road and the same time slot we had last year except we have one more game," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Now, we're into the postseason. One missed assignment, one guy not doing his job on a set, one guy not making the proper rotation, one careless turnover, one missed free throw, and the season is over. I want them to understand, and my hope is that it won't increase pressure. Pressure doesn't exist until you allow it to exist. I want them to be on edge. I want them to be locked in and laser-focused, and then let's see how good we can be."
Henderson and junior guard Jarvis Summers were recently named to the All-SEC second team by the league's coaches, and any run through the tournament starts with them. Henderson leads the league averaging 3-pointers 4.29 3-pointers made per game and ranks third in scoring (19.0 ppg), while Summers ranks eighth in scoring (16.9 ppg) and is the only player in the league to rank among the top 10 in the SEC in scoring and field goal goal percentage and top five in assists.
"These two guys have to play well," Kennedy said. "I saw that they were both acknowledged as second team all all league players which is a tribute to them and they have got to carry us. If they play well, and we get some contribution from the guys who have shown capable, then we have a chance to stay around a few days."
Kennedy reiterated that they're still searching in the frontcourt, adding that he's still thinking about who is starting tomorrow night in their frontcourt. During last year's run, the Rebels got contributions from the supporting cast in sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus and junior guard LaDarius White. This year, Kennedy said they need similar contributions from them, as well as Perez, the team's third-leading scorer in league play, and sophomore guard Martavious Newby, who has started each of the last three games after returning from a hand injury on Feb. 18 against Kentucky.
"Between Anthony, Snoop, now that Derrick is back with us, those three guys are getting the majority of the minutes, along with Newby now on the perimeter," Kennedy said. "Of those four, we need two of them to bring their 'A' game. If all four bring their 'A' game, we can play until Sunday. But we need two of those four to be really productive for us, and when we get that, this team has shown capable."
Ole Miss has played both No. 11 seed Vanderbilt and No. 14 seed Mississippi State twice, having completed the season sweep of the Commodores with a 65-62 win in Oxford this past Saturday. Ole Miss split the season series with Mississippi State, but the Rebels' loss back in January, however, was without Henderson.
"Obviously, if State wins tonight and we have the opportunity to play them, then, you know, it would be their Super Bowl in that they could go ahead and put us out of our misery," Kennedy said. "I think that whoever we play, simply because we have played them both twice and we are very familiar with them, we know what we have to do. We just have to go out and perform."
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.