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January 17, 2013

Rebs need to maintain efficiency in the post

OXFORD, Miss. -- Due to Ole Miss' efficiency in the post, the absence of one of the Rebels' expected contributors hasn't been a major issue to this point.

Forward Demarco Cox has been out with a stress fracture in his foot since playing five minutes against San Francisco on Dec. 24. The junior hasn't practiced or been cleared by team doctors, so his return is unknown. With Cox out, there's extra emphasis on the Rebels' three primary post players to log minutes and stay out of severe foul trouble.

Recently that's been a success, as other than Reginald Bucker registering five fouls in 29 minutes during the Rebels' blowout win against Tennessee, Buckner and Holloway have gone more than 30 minutes a night during Ole Miss' 3-0 start in the Southeastern Conference. Aaron Jones has also put up 17, 16 and 19 minutes, respectively, during league play.

"Obviously not having Demarco available is concerning to me because he brings an aspect we don't currently have - another big body and two years of experience," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He gives you greater flexibility with your rotation, but it hasn't been as much of a factor because we've been able to play heavy minutes with Reggie and Murph.

"They've stayed relatively foul free, and AJ has given us that third post player we need. I hope that continues to be the case. Typically you play a three-man post rotation, and the fourth isn't happy with his minutes. Right now we don't even have that fourth one."

A couple other inexperienced played have been able to successfully perform during spot duty. Freshman Terry Brutus, who has played limited minutes all season, gave the Rebels several quality trips down the floor against the Volunteers, and fellow newcomer Anthony Perez played seven minutes and hit a big 3-pointer in Ole Miss' comeback against Vanderbilt.

"Terry Brutus really helped us at Tennessee," Kennedy said. "All of these young guys, Anthony Perez against Vandy, who hasn't played that much really stepped up, knocked down a key three and made plays defensively. (Martavious) Newby's energy always changes the flow of the game when you put him in there so we're depending on all three of those guys moving forward."

'DORES' BIG SHOOTING NIGHT EXPLAINED: Andy Kennedy charted all 40 3-pointers Vanderbilt launched during Tuesday night's Ole Miss victory.

The Commodores hit 17 of them and nearly pulled off the win. Kennedy classified 26 of the 40 as clean looks, meaning a college player should make that shot at least 40 percent of the time. The other 14, obviously, were hard looks and not supposed to go in at a high rate. Vanderbilt hit 50 percent of the easy looks for the game but just one hard look in the second half - the one with three seconds left before Marshall Henderson's heroic 35-footer tied it.

"Good execution and ball movement (for Vanderbilt), having four guys that space you," Kennedy said. "We weren't very good at making that last rotation."

"The one thing is that we're down 13 with eight to play and Vandy is in the midst of a record-breaking night from the 3-point line in the history of that building, I never saw our group panic. I saw a sense of urgency because our margin for error shrunk. We battled and were fortunate to make enough plays to get it to overtime. Once we got to overtime I liked our chances."

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