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Role players emerging, giving Ole Miss the boost it needs

Role players emerging, giving Ole Miss the boost it needs

Moody vs VandyAll season, Stefan Moody has been the guy leading the Ole Miss Men’s basketball team, but with a hamstring injury hindering him the last few weeks, the senior guard is glad to to see some very solid play emerging from his teammates.

After Saturday night’s 85-78 home victory over Vanderbilt, Moody mentioned his left hamstring is at about 70 percent. Yet, he was able to score a game-high 23 points in 39 minutes of action against the Commodores and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

A team game

More importantly, Ole Miss (15-8, 5-5 Southeastern Conference) had three other players, outside of Moody, score in double figures against Vanderbilt.  Senior forward Tomasz Gielo, junior forward Rasheed Brooks, and sophomore forward Marcanvis Hymon all stepped up to help defeat the Commodores.

  • Gielo scored 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting in 29 minutes before fouling out at the 4:15 mark of the second half.
  • Brooks–who came in Saturday’s game averaging 12.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in the Rebels’ last eight games–added 15 points and nine rebounds on 6-for-15 shooting in 37 minutes.
  • Hymon, who has had to take on a much bigger role due to the absence of junior forward Sebastian Siaz, provided 13 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.

Following the win over the Commodores (13-10, 5-5), Moody couldn’t help but praise what he has seen out of his teammates.  “I’m very impressed,” he said in response to how far this team has come this season. “They have come a long way since we have been together in June and July. I’m very impressed with how they have been stepping up.”

Perez playing at a high level

Anthony Perez had nine points, five rebounds, and two assists in the win over Vanderbilt. (Photo credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Anthony Perez had nine points, five rebounds, and two assists in the win over Vanderbilt. (Photo credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Senior forward Anthony Perez has taken advantage of being a starter for Mississippi, averaging 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in the Rebels’ five games prior to their matchup against Vanderbilt.

Against the Commodores, Perez had nine points, five rebounds, and two assists before fouling out late in the second half.

It hasn’t taken much for Perez to get into the groove of playing at a high level, and his emergence as a scoring option has certainly been a timely benefit to Ole Miss.

Perez recorded his first double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Mississippi State on Jan. 23. He had a season-high 16 points on 4 for 5 shooting from deep in his start against then-No. 24 South Carolina on Jan. 19.

Kennedy optimistic about Rebels’ play

Coach Kennedy, who is now 7-7 in his career against the Commodores, was upbeat after the win over Vanderbilt and remains optimistic everyone can continue to contribute on both sides of the basketball:

I think tonight was a great step. It’s been a month since we have won two in a row—since the opening of this building with Alabama and Georgia. We went through some adversity, hopefully we have gotten through it to the other side.

Head Coach Andy Kennedy

After the game, Kennedy discussed Moody’s hamstring injury. “I think Moody is feeling better physically,” he said. “Will he be back to where he was prior to the injury? Probably not. That’s not how hamstrings work. I think he’s more collective in what he’s doing. Get Sebastian back and it will allow guys to get back into their natural habitat where they can play to their strengths as opposed to us constantly fighting uphill.”

Winning on the inside

The Rebels won the rebounding battle 44-41, despite having to go up against Vanderbilt’s three seven footers—forward Luke Kornet (7-foot-1) and centers Damian Jones and Josh Henderson (both 7-0). They also won the battle in second-chance points (25-6) and points off turnovers (18-12).

That’s what he said

“I won’t speak on that. I will let our game speak for itself,” said Stefan Moody when asked how dangerous Ole Miss can be at full-strength.

(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

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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