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Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic.

"We hadn't really found any rhythm through our first four games, either offensively or defensively," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We had been playing hard, but I didn't think we established any rhythm whatsoever. That was surprising to me based on what I had seen this summer and the extra work. I thought we would be further along in developing an identity. We took a huge step toward that this past weekend."

Senior guard Jarvis Summers, a preseason All-SEC first team selection, leads the team in scoring averaging 14.7 points per game. He is joined in double figures by junior guard Stafan Moody (13.0 ppg) and senior guard LaDarius White (12.2 ppg). 

Moody exploded for a career-high 26 points, including 17 in the second half, as Ole Miss defeated Cincinnati in the Emerald Coast Classic Championship Saturday. He knocked down as many 3-pointers against the Bearcats (3-of-7) as he had all season (3-of-21).

"He hadn't really made any threes prior to us going to Florida, and he really struggled," Kennedy said. "The first one he made, he banked in against Creighton, which is not what we intended to get him out of his slump. He made a couple early against Cincinnati. They pressed us, which allowed him to get in the open floor, and he made some spectacular finishes."

"It took a while, trying to get used to the offense and things like, but then I finally got it going, got in a good rhythm, got some good looks, and the shots started falling," Moody said.

White, Kennedy said, has probably been their consistent player this season. He is averaging 13.0 ppg during the last five games, all wins for the Rebels, and is shooting 58.9 percent from the field, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range.

"He came out of that big class with Johnny O'Bryant, Rodney Hood, Jarvis Summers, and I really felt like Snoop had a chance to be a tremendous player," Kennedy said. "My hope is that this senior year, he will embrace the approach you have to take, and he will be consistent. He has certainly showed moments."

Through six games, Kennedy has used a deep rotation with all 12 healthy scholarship players averaging nine-plus minutes per game, including nine players averaging 14-plus minutes per game. 

"We have done it so many times, I'm used to it," said Moody of the deep rotation. "Any five that's out on the floor, I feel like we can mesh together, regardless of who's coming in and coming out. We have been doing it for so long."

The rotation has not included sophomore forward Terry Brutus, who missed last season with a torn ACL, but he is expected to return to full practice and game action soon. Kennedy noted his ability to help the frontcourt with rebounding and ball-screen defense.

"He's unique in that he gives us a four-man that we haven't had since he got hurt," Kennedy said. "He has some of the same Murphy (Holloway)-like qualities in that he's a bit undersized, but he's so explosive and he's so quick. He's been practicing with us for about 10 days. We have increase his workload in contact, and so forth. He gives us great energy. We'll see if he gets cleared, and we're pretty confident that he will, and we'll see how quickly we can get him into game action because it's been a while since he has played."

Coming off wins over Creighton and Cincinnati, Ole Miss turns its attention to two more marquee non-conference opponents, as the Rebels host unbeaten TCU (7-0), coming off a 61-52 win over Mississippi State, and travel to Oregon (4-2), an NCAA Tournament team last season.

"We have already stubbed our toe," said Kennedy, referring to the season-opening loss to Charleston Southern. "We have talked about wanting to protect your home floor, simply because I know how difficult it is to win on the road. And then we'll have a challenge at Oregon on Sunday. We're playing two opponents from quality leagues, and I understand the importance of those games."

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.

VIDEO: Andy Kennedy Media Opportunity

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.

On Georgia:

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.

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