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January 21, 2012

Rebels survive UGA rally to claim road win

ATHENS, Ga. -- After an emotional 75-68 win over Mississippi State on Wednesday night, Ole Miss traveled in search of an elusive SEC road win.

It looked to be a foregone conclusion with 1:11 left in the game as the Rebels held a 62-50 lead.

The Bulldogs finished the game on a 13-4 run, but Terrance Henry hit three big free throws down the stretch to hold off a furious rally and preserve a 66-63 win as Gerald Robinson's 3-point attempt in the closing seconds missed off the rim.

"At the end, we obviously want the upperclassmen to have the ball," Kennedy said. "It's certainly not the way that we would have drawn up finishing the game, but the bottom line is they got it done."

Henry scored the team's first nine points of the game and finished with team high of 24 points and 10 rebounds. It was Henry's first double-double of the season and just the third of his career. Nick Williams and Murphy Holloway added 12 each, while Reginald Buckner recorded double-digit rebounds (10) for the fourth-straight game.

Kennedy also tightened the rotation with just eight players seeing the court for the Rebels. The starting five - Henry, Williams, Buckner, Holloway and Jarvis Summers - all logged more than 30 minutes in the game.

"When you're on the road and they're all so hard to get, you tighten your rotation unless you have foul issues," Kennedy said. "You want guys that have been through this before."

After committing just five turnovers in the first half, Ole Miss turned the ball over nine times in the second half. The Rebels also shot just 57.1 percent (20-for-35) from the free throw line, including 51.9 percent (14-for-27) in the second half. On the defensive end, Ole Miss played a lot of half-court trap and 2-3 zone and held Georgia to just 36.5 percent shooting for the game.

With the game tied at 20-20, Ole Miss went on a 10-0 run with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on the bench after he picked up his second foul of the game. Kennedy attacked this matchup with Henry, who got it going early with the team's first nine points of the game.

"Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a very good player," Kennedy said. "We wanted to make him guard because we knew how outstanding he was offensively and it worked. He picked up two fouls and was out of the game and that's where we make our first-half run. In second half, he's back in the game and he makes play after play after play."

Ole Miss held a double-digit advantage for much of the second half, leading by as many as 14, before Georgia made their final run in the final 1:11 of the game.

Caldwell-Pope (25 points) and Gerald Robinson (19 points) both made big plays for the Bulldogs as the Rebels missed free throws and turned the ball over.

"I think we lost our composure a little bit," Kennedy said. "Sometimes I forget - we all forget - that Jarvis is a freshman. I want him to dominate the ball. With that, is going to come growing pains and I think we experienced that a little bit."

The Rebels return home when they host No. 14 Florida on Thursday night, the first of back-to-back home games. For Kennedy, it needs to be more of the same - rebounding, defending, not turning the ball over and making some free throws.


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