Andy Kennedy felt Ole Miss just needed ‘one play’ to finish off No. 24 USC
After Ole Miss senior guard Stefan Moody went to the bench from an apparent hamstring injury, the Rebels couldn’t muster any offensive firepower and their coach, Andy Kennedy, was looking for answers.
He was looking for one play, to be exact.
But Kennedy found himself in an even deeper quandary once forward Anthony Perez fouled out at the 2:31 mark of overtime, when Ole Miss was trailing 24th-ranked South Carolina (17-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference), 70-68, after having held a double-digit lead for most of the game.
Perez was arguably the Rebels’ second-best option on offense, since Moody was limping on his left leg from late in the second half on into overtime.
Ole Miss led 66-55 after two foul shots by Perez but then allowed the Gamecocks to go on an 11-0 run to tie the game and send it into overtime. USC’s Michael Carrera scored five of the team’s final seven points, including a 3-point play that put the Gamecocks up for good at 75-72 with 29 seconds to go.
The end result was a 77-74 win for USC and a three-game losing streak for the Rebels.
Kennedy: “The effort was there”
“The effort was there; our guys showed a lot of effort, a lot of courage, battle, battle, battle,” Kennedy said after the game. “But unfortunately in this game, that’s not enough. You have to make a play and when Moody grabbed his hamstring, we were up 11 and we were trying to get someone else to step up. But unfortunately, we just couldn’t get that,” he added.
Moody had a game-high 24 points on 8 of 13 shooting in 39 minutes of action–and became the 38th Ole Miss Rebel to join the 1,000-point club for his career. Perez finished with 16 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes.
With the team’s consistent performers on offense out of the game, Kennedy went deep into the bench, grabbing freshmen Terence Davis and Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey to play against a veteran Gamecocks team—led by Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice, and Carrera—that was comfortable in close-game situations.
Looking for a play to happen
Kennedy was simply looking for a play to happen from someone to seal the win. Ole Miss is 0-2 against teams in the Associated Press Top 25 and 6-5 against RPI top 150.
“To beat a ranked SEC team, you have to make a play; somebody has to make a play,” Kennedy said. “And we didn’t get it done.”
Marcanvis Hymon provided 10 points, three blocks and one steal in 42 minutes of action, but shot 3 for 9. Davis provided seven points on 2 of 5 shooting and Fitzpatrick-Dorsey added six points, three assists, and two steals.
Junior Rasheed Brooks, who had averaged 15.3 points per game in Ole Miss’ last three games, scored two points and notched five rebounds in 38 minutes.
Moody’s status uncertain
Heading into Saturday’s road game against Mississippi State (1 p.m. CT, SEC Network), Ole Miss could be without Moody, depending on the state of his left hamstring.
“Offensively, we have some limitations, but we’ve got to finish some plays to win these games,” Kennedy said. “I preach all the time ‘you’re not going to back your way into anything of significance’ and we got to go make a play, whether it’s on offense or defense.
“Who knows what Moody’s prognosis is moving forward, but we are what we are,” Kennedy said. “We got to play the hand that’s dealt us.”
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)