Rebels drop conference game on the road to Kentucky
Ole Miss Men’s head basketball coach Andy Kennedy didn’t crack a smile late Saturday night after the Rebels lost to No. 10 Kentucky, 83-61, in the Southeastern Conference opener for both programs. Instead, he pointed out what improvements need to be made.
Kennedy saw his team shoot 23.1 percent (6 for 26) from the field—20 for 50 overall—in the first half, the worst shooting performance by Ole Miss in one half of basketball this season, and he saw how the long, athletic Wildcats (11-2, 1-0 SEC) tried to contain senior guard Stefan Moody.
“Well, we worked all week on us, but that meant high hands, because he can get a shot off and jump over you,” Kentucky’s head coach John Calipari said of Moody, who’s eighth in the nation in scoring (23.8 points per game).
After the loss, Kennedy suggested that, “next year I want to be invited to Camp Cal. There’s some pointers to be had there, so maybe next time he’ll invite the Rebels up, so hopefully we can get some of what they have going.”
Coming into Saturday’s SEC opener, Kennedy knew Moody would see some double teams, since he’s the focal point of this year’s Ole Miss team. But he wanted Moody’s teammates to rally behind him and go to war, but outside of forward Sebastian Saiz’s 12 points and six rebounds, there wasn’t a great deal of help Saturday night.
Moody continues to excel
Moody finished the game with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including making all of his nine free throw attempts. Despite the loss, Moody recorded his eighth-consecutive 20-point game, the most by a Rebels player since 1992.
“First off, he’s the SEC’s leading scorer and you don’t have to watch much tape on us to realize that we need him to play well,” Kennedy explained. Teams are going to guard him with multiple players and going to try and put length on him and what we have to do is we have to take better advantage of the spacing which he creates.
“We were 1-for-10 in what we considered clean looks and that’s just a recipe for disaster against teams such as Kentucky in venues like this. We have to have other guys step up and make plays.”
Kennedy, then, talked about last season’s overtime thriller in which Moody scored 25 points as Ole Miss fell 89-86 to then-undefeated Kentucky. In that game, the Rebels had two other players, Jarvis Summers and Ladarius Smith, score in double digits, 23 and 15, respectively.
“Obviously it’s easy to talk about last year and the fact that we were very competitive throughout most of the game, but the reality is, with the exception of Moody and (Sebastian) Saiz, there weren’t really a lot of guys on last year’s team who were a part of that, Kennedy said of his team, who was on a seven-game winning streak entering Rupp Arena.
“We lost a lot of guys who were a part of that run, and I thought that the moment might have been a little big for them early and then you just don’t get many more opportunities against Kentucky if you don’t take advantage of them early.”
Feature image credit: Carrier-Journal.com