February 10, 2008
Kennedy's Rebels get ready for Presbyterian
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy knows this isn't your typical basketball game.
Already deep into their SEC schedule, the Rebels host Presbyterian College tonight at 7 p.m., and though the opponent's profile is low, the stakes are still high.
"We're coming off a disappointing loss at Arkansas, and we're looking forward to getting back on the floor," Kennedy said. "It's another opportunity for us to be back at home and to try and right the ship."
The quick turnaround comes just days after the Rebels (16-5, 3-5 SEC) got off to a horrific start at Arkansas, falling behind 16-2 before coming back to lose 75-69.
Because of a late cancellation to its non-conference schedule (a game to be played at New Orleans), Ole Miss scheduled independent Presbyterian (4-22).
In its first year on Division I competition, the Blue Hose have lost all 22 of their road games, playing a hellacious schedule.
Al'lonzo Coleman (10.7 points per game) and Pat Kiscaden (10.2 ppg) lead Presbyterian in scoring, but the Blue Hose are known more for their defense, keeping opponents to just 66.5 points per game.
The Rebels, losers of four of their last five, have gotten off to slow starts in their last two games.
"I'd hope that we can come out and play aggressively, taking the right approach," Kennedy said. "That's not just a key tonight, but every game."
Another key will be getting more production from Kenny Williams. Williams has scored 10 points or more just two times in the Rebels last 12 games.
"He's not played as well in league play and it's certainly affected us," Kennedy said. "He's really struggling offensively with his inability to make free throws at clutch times and he's not rebounding the ball with the same kind of energy.
"He's a senior. He's a guy we're dependent on to be consistent, and hopefully, he'll have a strong finish."
Some of Williams' minutes could go to senior Jermey Parnell, who returned from an ankle injury Saturday at Arkansas.
"He'll play tonight. It was obvious to anyone who watched the game that he was hobbling, but he gave us 12 or 13 gritty minutes," Kennedy said. "I was happy to see him back on the floor, and hopefully over the next few days he'll continue to progress."
And just like Parnell, Kennedy wants to see the Rebels get better.
"My concerns are that we keep improving as a team in our last nine regular-season games and try to string together not just a good first five (minutes) or a last good five, but 40 solid minutes of basketball," he said. "It's time for our team to start playing to its capability."
With a win, the Rebels would finish their non-conference schedule a perfect 14-0 - the first Ole Miss team to do so since the 1948-49 team went 4-0.
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