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Rebels prepare to face Arkansas in first of Kennedy’s final six regular-season games as head coach

Rebels prepare to face Arkansas in first of Kennedy’s final six regular-season games as head coach

OXFORD, Miss. – When the Rebels take on Arkansas this evening in The Pavilion, it will mark Andy Kennedy’s 400th game as head men’s basketball coach at Ole Miss. It will also mark the first of the final six regular-season games of his tenure in Oxford.  

In Monday’s press conference to announce his resignation, effective at the end of this season, Kennedy said he phoned Director of Athletics Ross Bjork Sunday morning to let him know of his decision. 

“I woke up Sunday morning with a true conviction that there needed to be some clarity as it relates to the future of Ole Miss basketball moving forward,” Kennedy said.

I have been truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a head coach in the Southeastern Conference in my home state for 12 years. That is a true blessing, this I know. I also know that it is time for a new voice and a new vision for this program moving forward.”

Head coach Andy Kennedy

Photo: Jake Evans, The Rebel Walk

This has likely been one of Kennedy’s most challenging seasons as a coach, but Monday he reflected on what the program has meant to him and how it has changed since his arrival in 2006.  

“I have been very, very fortunate to have had this opportunity,” Kennedy said. ”I’ve had a lot of great people who have helped. It was pushing a rock uphill for a long time; that’s not the case any longer.”

Now, the Rebels must prepare to play the Razorbacks, who are looking to finish the season strong in order to be considered for the NCAA Tournament.

Arkansas has won two straight–and defeated Ole Miss, 97-93, in the first meeting this season. In that game, Terence Davis notched 30 points, but the Rebels only shot 48.3 percent from the field.

Kennedy’s superlatives

It’s time for this team to play hard and finish strong for a coach who has put so much into the program. When the season ends, Kennedy will finish as the winningest coach in Ole Miss history. He’s one of five SEC coaches to have recorded 20 wins or more nine times in 11 seasons.

Kennedy is the only coach in the SEC to post 11 consecutive winning seasons after taking over a program coming off four straight losing seasons. He’s a two-time SEC Coach of the Year. He has 16 All-SEC selections and two SEC West titles (2007, 2010).

He won the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2013 with a Gator-chomping Marshall Henderson, and he has made two NIT Final Four appearances. Under Kennedy, Ole Miss is one of only 20 programs in the country to finish in the top 100 RPI for 11 consecutive seasons.

Kennedy was asked to what he attributed his 12-year-tenure:

I think Will Wade was the 39th different head coach I had faced in the SEC; I think thats a pretty staggering number when you think about it, but really it’s simple: God’s grace and hard work, in that order.

Andy Kennedy

There are only six games remaining in the 2017 season, and you can bet Kennedy will pour on the effort to prep his guys just like he has done for each and every game in all of his 12 years.

But regardless of how this team finishes the season, it will not tarnish what Kennedy has accomplished in Oxford. Fans should remember him for being the straight-shooting, charismatic, winningest coach in school history.  

When his team plays well, Kennedy says so. When they play poorly, he acknowledges it and takes responsibility. Kennedy’s forthright approach is a breath of fresh air in a world of too much coach-speak. And you have to respect that. 

Game info

Ole Miss and Arkansas tip off at 6:00 p.m. in The Pavilion. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. Tom Hart will handle play-by-play duties, while Jon Sundvold will serve as analyst. 

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 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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