NASHVILLE — Here is part of what Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy had to say Thursday night after his team lost 81-73 to Alabama, which will play Kentucky Friday night, despite 39 points from Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody.
Q. Coach Kennedy, Alabama finished with 12 blocks as a team. Donta Hall with 5. They seemed to really affect your team’s game inside. Just talk about that in the second half.
COACH KENNEDY: I thought it was huge. Donta Hall did that to us in Game 1. He’s got a great presence at the basket with his ability to block shots. They really started pressing up on Moody as he was making plays. So driving lanes were available. We drove, and he did a good job of limiting any points in the paint for us.
I thought that Sebastian Saiz, I thought Marcanvis Hymon at the end made a couple plays, but Saiz was pretty much neutralized with their size and length at the basket.
Q. Coach, 42% in the first half, 32% in the second half. What were some of the troubles that you were seeing?
COACH KENNEDY: As Moody was just saying, they run a defense called double fist, which is kind of a two-three and they’re going to come trap the ball. So they were doing that obviously to get it out of his hands. And I honestly thought we had pretty clean looks.
I thought Gielo and Brooks had looks on the wings, cleaner looks than Riley Norris was making, cleaner looks than Arthur, and we just didn’t make plays.
They go 12 for 24 from three, a tribute to them. We go 11 for 34. And ultimately, again, at this time of year, all teams are going to play hard. We’re plus eight on the glass. We didn’t really turn it over. We’re battling. Our inability to make a play when we needed one was ultimately the difference.
Q. Andy, you’ve talked a lot about Moody’s impact, but it’s pretty rare in the SEC Tournament to see a situation where a guy fouls out and every fan in the building, no matter their allegiance, stands up and applauds the effort.
COACH KENNEDY: He’s been a special player for us. I’ve said that a lot here at the end. You try not to heap too much praise on one of your current players while you’re in the grind, but now that we’re done and you look back, I mean, obviously, he’s the most dynamic playmaker in the history of our program, most certainly in my ten years.
But I think what he’s been able to do in leading this team to back-to-back 20-win seasons and last year’s run in the NCAA Tournament, obviously, he’s been a tremendous playmaker for us, and I appreciate the fans acknowledging that in his last game here.