Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy met with members of the media Thursday, ahead of the Rebels traveling to Athens, Ga., for a battle with the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday (3 p.m., Fox Sports Net).
On momentum after a win over Missouri followed by a loss at Alabama:
I'm not a big believer in momentum as it relates from one game to the next. I believe in in-game momentum. I don't know if it travels and stands the shelf life of day to day. We didn't play well in Tuscaloosa and deserved to be beaten quite frankly. When you look at it statistically, I was amazed that we had a lead late.
We weren't able to make the plays. We always talk about that. In the games that we have won, especially on the road, it has come down to a play here or a play there. Somebody has to make a play, and we didn't make them. Trevor Releford did. We put ourselves in a position where one shot beats you, and unfortunately for us, it's happened three times this year, and the kid hit it.
On the energy expended to come back in games late in the season:
We didn't play well, however you slice it. When you look at it statistically, you can't go on the road and shoot in the mid-to-upper 30's from the field. You can't get outrebounded. Defensively, we were pretty sound and able to stay in the game, and then we let their all-league caliber guy score the last 16 points of the game.
On teams defending Jarvis Summers differently:
I met with Jarvis earlier, and I just need Jarvis to play with energy and pop. I can't allow the grind to wear him down. I didn't feel like he played to the standard that we have become accustomed because he's played like an all-league player. He was not on his best game at Alabama.
Marshall continues to struggle on the road with shooting. And if you're not getting second-chance or third-chance opportunity off the offensive glass, which we weren't, ultimately you're not going to be able to manufacture enough to give yourself a chance. When you hold the whole team under 70 points, you have to feel like you have a chance to win, but again offensively we weren't very good.
On NCAA Tournament standing:
We have seven regular season games left. I have a lot of responsibilities as the head coach here, but one of the biggest is to lend perspective. We're at a point in the season, where a month from yesterday, the SEC Tournament starts, and that's hard to believe for me.
We have seven games left and there are a lot of opportunities for us moving forward. Perspective is certainly valuable at this time of the year. If last year taught us nothing, it's truly about focusing on the next opportunity, and as long as you have games, you have opportunity. That has to be the mindset of this group.
On Jarvis Summers' expanded role and him carrying it to the finish of the season:
He's certainly in a different position than he's even been in before. We have always rode him hard minutes and asked him to run our club. This year, we're asking him to make game-winning plays, so that certainly takes a toll on you physically.
Mentally, he's up to the challenge. He's a junior in our program, he's played in big games, he's had big moments, and I know he wants to be in that position. Now it's just a matter of going out and making the plays.
On Jarvis Summers' minutes taking a toll on him physically:
I don't think so. Most every team at this time of the year is going to go through some bumps and bruises. Just because they're players, they're all susceptible to the colds and flus and everything that happens with this weather. We have to be smart in making sure that we take care of them and put them in a position where we can get to the game at full strength. That doesn't mean we have to stop practicing. Sometimes I have to remind my guys of that.
We have to get better. This team has to improve. I have a fifth-year senior in Marshall and a junior in Jarvis who have played heavy minutes, but nobody else on our team has ever been in the position that I'm asking them to be in. We have to practice. We have to get better. We have to improve as a team if we any realistic goal of reaching the postseason at any level. We have to improve.
On Anthony Perez:
He's another guy who last year was an afterthought, a practice player who didn't get in the game. His minutes have really increased, especially with Newby's absence. We're down to 11 scholarship guys. A couple of the freshmen don't play that much, so I'm playing him heavy minutes, close to 30 minutes per game.
I'm playing him at the 3, I'm playing him at the 4, and he has to accept that responsibility. His talent is certainly good enough to help us. Now, he has to reflect on the last three to four weeks where he's been put in that position and continue to grow through the experience. His confidence wanes at times. He's not as assertive as I would like for him to be. At times, matchup-wise, he's a prominent option for us offensively.
And then, defensively, when I play him at the 4, we have to do a better job off the glass. If we don't shore up these rebounding woes, we're putting ourselves in a position where, unless we make every shot like we did against Missouri, it's going to be hard to win.
Georgia is a team that's found its way. They're 11-2 at home, 5-1 in league play. They have done a good job of protecting home floor. They were similar to us in the respect that last year it was about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the best player in our league. He leaves, so now they have Charles Mann, who they have asked to make the play. They have Marcus Thornton and Kenny Gaines. They all played last year, but now they are prominent in whether the Bulldogs win or lose.
It took them a little while in the non-league to figure that out. Once they have gotten into league play, they have been playing really well. They went into Mississippi State last night and dominated the game for the last 30 minutes, so we're playing a club that's playing well. Both of us are 7-4 in the league. They have down a really good job of protecting their home floor, so we have to go in and make sure that we take the right approach.
On the difference in post play from Missouri to Alabama:
If you look at our home and away numbers, it's staggering for some of our guys. It's not only Jarvis and Marshall, guys who we expect to be more consistent. The numbers are vastly different home and away.
In our wins, Sebas and AJ are getting us 15 (points), 15 (rebounds) and about 3.5 (blocks). In our losses, and they have all been on the road, so it's easy to correlate, they're getting about half that production. That, coupled with a really inept shooting percentage, makes for long nights, and that's what we have experienced some on the road.
We have to shore those things up and become more consistent. You would hope that as we can continue to drive that message home and as guys get more experience, those numbers would change and we can become more consistent, so ultimately we can get the results we want.
On looking ahead to Kentucky and Florida next week:
Next week's games really don't have the significance if we don't find a way to grind through some of these. We have four home games and three on the road, and we have to win games. Saturday is the next opportunity to do that.
On Demarco Cox's play against Alabama:
With Bear, his minutes have been up and down. I trust him because he's been in the program. To me, it's all about production. The guys who I'm playing up front, I'm searching for production. I'm searching for rebounds per minutes, to be a presence at the basket, to finish layups, to make free throws, simple things.
We don't ask our bigs to do a lot for us. It's different from last year when we were going to Murph and ask him to make a play, or running offense through Reggie because of his ability to read out of the post. We don't ask these guys to do that because they're not ready to do that just yet.
We ask them to defend, to rebound, and to be proficient from block to block. The guys who play are the guys who are doing it on that night. We play four different guys in there depending upon who's producing.
On Terry Brutus:
The knee is doing OK. He had an ankle situation on the same knee. It bothered him some last year, and they think when he went down with the ACL that he further damaged the ankle. He went in and had some surgery on his ankle a few weeks ago. It's the same leg, which is going to really set back his rehab.
We have plenty of time. My hope is that he will be fine. He's a strong, young kid. We hope that he will be able to make a full recovery, but he has had a little setback in his rehabilitation based on the ankle.
On Martavious Newby:
He's doing good. He's going to be cleared for basketball stuff here soon, maybe as early as next week. They put a soft cast on him where he can catch and move, and once we get to that stage, we will know when we can put him back in a game.
On Martavious Newby being available for games next week:
He has not been in practice yet, so I have not thought about it. Until I see him in practice, then we will make a determination.