By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Nick Williams answered the call his coach issued three games ago, but better late than never. With Murphy Holloway back in the lineup the was a doubly potent tandem for Ole Miss.
Holloway had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Williams 18 points and eight rebounds, as the Rebels shook off a 26-point loss at LSU and got in the SEC win column by beating Arkansas 71-63 before 5,197 fans at Tad Smith Coliseum Wednesday night.
The Rebels won in spite of 23 turnovers and 0-for-7 3-point shooting by hitting 50 percent from the floor and 73 percent from the free-throw line.
Holloway’s 14 rebounds helped give the Rebels (11-5, 1-1 SEC) a whopping 48-26 rebounding advantage.
“Good players make good coaches. He’s back, we dominate the glass, and that’s the reason we win the game. We still didn’t make open shots, but he energized the frontcourt, and we get 25 rebounds out of those two positions,” Kennedy said. “It makes a world of difference.”
The Rebels defeated the Razorbacks (12-4, 1-1 SEC) for the eighth time in nine games, the 14th time in the last 16 games at Tad Smith. Ole Miss has won four straight in the series.
Reggie Buckner was the Rebels’ second double-figure rebounder with 11. The Rebels held the Razorbacks to 39.3 percent shooting.
Holloway had not played since Dec. 21 when he sustained a severely sprained ankle in the Rebels’ 68-56 loss to Middle Tennessee State in Southaven. Holloway had missed the last three games, and the Rebels had lost four of their last five.
Holloway was surprised at the impact his return had and what, exactly, he means for the Rebels.
“I see the energy and all that, but I don’t look at it that much, because that’s just how I play,” he said.
The ankle didn’t bother him until late in the game.
“Off the dribble, I could go one way, but I couldn’t really change directions,” he said.
In Holloway’s absence, Kennedy had called on his veterans for more scoring to boost a team that was averaging 65.5 points and had scored just 50 and 51 in its last two games.
Williams was averaging 8.3 points and hadn’t reached double figures since getting 12 against Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 14.
Arkansas entered the game leading the SEC in turnovers forced.
With that fact in mind, Kennedy wanted another ball-handler in the game and started redshirt freshman Jelan Kendrick ahead of Williams.
But Williams hurt the Hogs with penetration, getting in the lane and shooting 7-for-13 from the floor, 4-for-5 from the free throw line. He played 34 minutes.
A Holloway follow of an errant 3-point attempt by Williams gave the Rebels a 17-16 lead with 11 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half.
They built a 37-29 lead at the break and got the advantage up to 13 on several second-half occasions, the last with 12:11 to play.
“Their physicality was the difference in the game. Holloway was a big catalyst. He just willed his team to win,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said.