By LARRY VAUGHT
While Kentucky coach John Calipari contends that Mississippi had a chance to win at Kentucky going into the game’s final six minutes, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has a slightly different memory of his team’s 80-64 loss at Rupp Arena.
“Cal’s pretty diplomatic in that answer. We stayed around for a while. I believe it was a two- or three-possession game maybe until the 10-, 12-minute mark of the second half. We couldn’t get a rebound, which has really been kind of a broken record for us. But we just could not get a rebound in the second half,” said Kennedy Monday. “If you remember, we had some dead-ball rebounds, but the first one that an Ole Miss Rebel got I believe was under two minutes to go in the second half.
“So we zoned them quite a bit and they did not make a 3-point shot in the second half, but even the ones that they missed they got every rebound. I think Willie Cauley-Stein probably played his best game in a Kentucky uniform and just dominated on both ends. They certainly got some run-outs, but they got control of the game at about the 30-minute mark and then we were just trying to hold on for dear life.”
Cauley-Stein had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots — his best game in SEC play — against Mississippi.
“I’m telling you, with six minutes to go it was anybody’s ballgame. And then we got a couple breakouts and made a shot and all of a sudden it was 12, and then we got going a little bit,” Calipari said. “But that was late, late in the game. You’re at the mercy of them making jumpers. And again, I think their point guard (Jarvis Summers) is really – I think he makes them go.
“They’ve got other players on that team that can score baskets, and then (Marshall) Henderson at any time can make five straight baskets. Can you keep your head about you if he does? And he seems to do it at home more than he does on the road.”
Henderson didn’t start Saturday at Georgia because Kennedy said he had been struggling with his shooting in road games.
“He was shooting close to 30 percent from the floor and less than 25 percent in the first half. So I was just doing something to try to change the way that he approached the game, allow him to see it for a few minutes on the bench and, \I don’t know if that directly affected his performance but he came out and made shots,” Kennedy said. “I think he had 14 (points) in the first half on 6-for-8 shooting, something like that. As a result, we were leading at the half. Second half, he struggled a little bit and as a result we came up a possession short. But that was the thinking: just trying to find a winning combination.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan said Henderson, who averaged 19.5 points per game and is third in the nation with 4.45 made 3-pointers per game, is always hard to defend.
“I think since he has been in this league I do not recall a player as fast as he is coming off screens and getting shots,” Donovan said. “At times you can play really good defense and it does not matter. He is a unique, talented player and the thing I admire most is what a competitor he is. He is a handful, but they have a lot of other good players as well.”
“He’s taking 12 3’s a game. But he’s shooting a decent percentage with those 12. One of them’s going to be from 35 (feet), another’s going to be an inch behind the line. And when he makes them, he’s really, really good, and their team’s really, really good. We just can’t give them any open looks, because he works extremely hard and never stops moving to get a shot off,” Robic said. “They need him to score, there’s no question.”
Ole Miss is fourth in the SEC standings at 7-5 and trails only Florida and Kentucky for the league’s best record over the last 39 SEC teams.
Junior guard Jarvis Summers ranks eighth in the league in scoring at 16.8 points per game and is ninth in the conference with a 48.7 field goal percentage. He’s third in assists at 3.8/game. He is the only player in the league to rank in the top-10 in the SEC in scoring and field goal percentage and top-five in assists.
Freshman forward Sebastian Saiz pulled down 10 boards in a win over Missouri and scored a career-high 20 points against LSU. The Spain native ranks fifth among freshmen in the SEC pulling down 6.0 rebounds per game).
Ole Miss also ranks third the SEC and 12th in the nation, averaging 6.3 blocked shots per game. Junior F Aaron Jones is ranks third in the league, and 56th in the nation, averaging 2.2 blocked shots per game.
“They’re undefeated in the SEC at home. I think typically every team is better at home than not. We went down there last year, and Nerlens (Noel) had a huge game. They’re a different team. They are a perimeter-oriented team with Summers and Henderson and LaDarius White, (Derrick) Millinghaus. So their top four scorers are guards. They started a different lineup last game out. They started really big with (Anthony) Perez and Saiz and No. 23 (Dwight Coleby) at the post. They started big,” Robic said.
“They’re predominantly a zone team. I would say that we’re probably going to see 98 percent zone, whether it’s 2-3 or a 1-3-1. They’ll do some pressing. They seem to press a little bit more at home. I like how Andy coaches. We have to do a good job like we did in the first game here. We were effective in our game plan. We carried it out very, very well. There were only two breakdowns, and Marshall Henderson hit two threes on the two breakdowns. But that’s what we’re getting ready to go into practice now and make sure we’re sharp on that.”