By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – South Carolina’s visit to Tad Smith Coliseum was almost the game that would put Murphy Holloway in the uncomfortable position of playing against close friends.
Now it’s the game to see if Holloway can get back on track.
The junior Ole Miss forward pulled off a unique double transfer by leaving the Rebels after his sophomore season in 2010, spending last season at South Carolina, then transferring back to Ole Miss at the close of the spring 2011 semester.
The NCAA granted Holloway a waiver that allowed him eligibility for this season at Ole Miss.
It’s a struggling South Carolina (9-10, 1-4 SEC) but one that is coming off a 56-54 home win over Alabama. The Rebels (13-7, 3-3) dropped a Thursday night game to No. 14 Florida 64-60.
While with the Gamecocks, Holloway never warmed up to the idea of suiting up in garnet and black in Tad Smith and banging with buddies Terrance Henry and Reggie Buckner.
“That would have been really strange. That was something I wasn’t looking forward to, coming back and playing against Ole Miss, but I would have had to do it,” he said.
Holloway initially chose to leave Ole Miss to return home – He’s a native of Irmo, S.C., just minutes from the Gamecocks’ Columbia campus – to help care for his daughter. He cited an improved family situation in his decision to return to Ole Miss. South Carolina coach Darrin Horn – whose team is averaging more than eight fewer rebounds than the Rebels – would have preferred that he remain but was otherwise supportive of Holloway’s move.
“It was a good relationship. When I told him he supported me. He told me, ‘We know the main reason you came home, and if you feel that situation is better, I’ll help you explore your options,’ ” Holloway said.
Holloway has made a big impact for Ole Miss, though his numbers have dropped a bit of late. He has but one offensive rebound in the last three games, a fact that he does not attribute to a lingering ankle sprain that requires more than two hours a day in the training room.
Holloway has posted six double-doubles this season and faces the Gamecocks with averages of 10.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and shooting 55 percent from the floor.
The Rebels have had little time to prepare for South Carolina, victims of the new “quick turn” that results from the SEC’s TV contract that allows for Saturday games after Thursday night games. All SEC teams are affected, the Rebels three times this season.
“We’ve got the quick turn, but we’ve got to be grown men and look on to the next game and try to get this win,” said senior forward Terrance Henry, who is averaging 19 points a game over his last three games.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy says he doesn’t spend much time thinking about lost preparation time. The Rebels had an advantage on the front end with more prep time for Florida.
“As a coach you never have enough time to prepare,” Kennedy said. “We all realize that we’re in a big business. SEC men’s basketball is a high-dollar business. The reason that it is, on a lot of fronts, is because of television revenue.”