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Kennedy prepared to face MSU without three Ole Miss starters

Kennedy prepared to face MSU without three Ole Miss starters

There will be a different game plan for the University of Mississippi in Saturday’s road contest against Mississippi State, and Andy Kennedy is ready to face it, whether it’s with his leading scorer, Stefan Moody, or not.

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Moody’s status for the Rebels’ game against MSU Saturday is uncertain. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

Moody’s status is day-to-day

Moody’s status for the Rebels’ game against the Bulldogs on Saturday (1 p.m. CT, SEC Network) remains to be seen as he’s day-to-day with a left hamstring injury he suffered in Tuesday’s 77-74 overtime decision against No. 24 South Carolina. Moody didn’t practice with the team on Wednesday or Thursday and how he feels in Friday’s practice will determine whether or not he will suit up against MSU (7-10, 0-5 Southeastern Conference).

“I’m going to let him make the call,” Kennedy said. “But if he’s not 100 percent, he will not play Saturday—or as close to 100 percent as he can be. He’s responded to treatment like I thought he would. His pain has been cut almost in half. He’s much more mobile.”

Since the start of the season, Moody has been a thorn in the side of Ole Miss opponents, as he averages 24.3 points per game, which ranks first in the SEC and sixth in the nation. And if Moody can’t give it a go, backup guards Sam Finley or Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey may play significant minutes.

Ole Miss leading rebounder Sebastian Saiz is out, following surgery for a detached retina. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

Ole Miss leading rebounder Sebastian Saiz is out, following surgery for a detached retina. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

“It opens some more doors, most certainly,” Kennedy said. “We’ll have to figure that out.”

Saiz and Newby sidelined with eye injuries

Besides Moody the Rebels’ are without leading rebounder, junior forward Sebastian Saiz, who will miss a significant amount of time after having eye surgery to repair a detached retina.

Kennedy mentioned Saiz could also be ruled out against Auburn and Kansas State. Saiz’s injury occurred at Memphis on Dec. 18 when he was accidentally hit in the face hard enough where blood began to drip from his eye. His vision seemed as if it was back to normal; however it started bothering him again when Ole Miss (12-6, 2-4) took on LSU on January 13. Saiz notified the team of his injury prior to last Saturday’s game against Florida.

Before the unfortunate injury, Saiz was averaging 12.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, which ranked him 20th and second in the SEC, respectively.

Senior guard Martavious Newby is another injured Rebel who Kennedy and staff have to find a way to replace. Newby missed Tuesday’s game against the Gamecocks with a swollen right eye, which Kennedy stated has too much pressure on it. Newby has dealt with his injury on and off since last summer.

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Senior guard Martavious Newby is out with an eye injury. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

“There’s obviously going to be some confidence loss,” Kennedy said. “Saiz is our best interior player. Moody’s our best player; Newby’s our most experienced player. We would certainly like to have them at 100 percent, but that’s just not our reality.”

With injuries gradually taking a toll on a Rebels team that’s riding a three-game losing streak, its longest of the season, Kennedy knows the Bulldogs will be eager to try and take advantage of a team that’s lacking depth.

Bulldogs on a five-game losing streak

The Bulldogs have not won a game since New Year’s Eve—a 71-48 home win over the North Carolina Central Eagles. State has dropped five consecutive games—Texas A&M (60-61), at Arkansas (68-82), at Kentucky (74-80), Tennessee (75-80), and at Florida (78-81)—but Kennedy expects them to be read to face the Rebels.

“The Bulldogs see us walking in a little bit wounded,” Kennedy said. “They’re still a senior-oriented team. I know that obviously they’re a group that’s going to be hungry being at 0-5 in conference play at his point.

The 1:00 p.m. (CT) game vs. Mississippi State on Saturday, January 23, will be televised on the SEC Network. 

Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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