Rebels confront SEC 'quick turn' tonight

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

The last time Ole Miss dealt with the “quick turn” following a loss to Mississippi State, the direction was south.
For years, SEC basketball teams were comfortable in a game routine of Wednesdays and Saturdays. The television deal with ESPN changed things, and now there’s new phraseology within the conference.
The “quick turn” is what teams encounter when they face the week’s second game with shorter than normal preparation time.
Sometimes that abbreviated time is less than 48 hours ,as was the case for Ole Miss in mid-January, when it lost an 8 p.m., Thursday game to MSU and was beaten soundly on Saturday in a late-afternoon start against Georgia.
This time, there’s one more day to prepare, but that’s also a travel day for the Rebels (17-10, 5-7 SEC) who play at South Carolina (13-12, 4-8) tonight at 6 on ESPNU.
“We’ve had the quick turn on the other end but not this way,” South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said. “This is something our team will have to learn to deal with.”
Kennedy didn’t dwell on the quick turn but did cite it as a factor against Georgia, particularly after an emotional home loss in which the Rebels had a late lead before falling 69-64.
Less than 48 hours later, Georgia came within a bucket of hanging a hundred on the Rebels at home. Georgia shot 63.5 percent – 50 percent from 3-point range – in winning 98-74.
Kennedy called his team’s play “flat.”
Monday, he had little to say about the quick turn as the Rebels digest another loss to the Bulldogs, who have won five straight in the series.
“Our biggest focus is on the fact that we only have four regular season games left, and we want our guys to focus on the present and understand how quickly the season is coming to an end,” he said. “We want to take full advantage of our opportunities.”
Slumping hosts
After a promising start to league play, South Carolina enters having lost five straight and seven of its last eight SEC games. The Gamecocks lost 90-59 at Kentucky on Saturday.
South Carolina is expected to play without junior forward Lakeem Jackson, a top defender and offensive rebounder, for the third straight game.
Horn has five freshmen and a first-year junior college transfer in his rotation, but he says it’s time to stop focusing on the team’s inexperience.
“At some point inexperience and youth become an excuse,” he said. “We’re 25 games in, and our guys who play have played a lot of basketball this season.”
In contrast, the Rebels have two seniors and a fourth-year junior getting key minutes in their backcourt.
Kennedy is puzzled as to why his team can’t seem to put really good shooting games together. Ole Miss shot 56.8 percent from the floor and 52 percent from the arc in dismantling Auburn 90-59 last Wednesday.
At MSU, the perimeter-oriented Rebels were just 4 for 24 from 3-point range.
“When you deal with teenagers, focus is certainly an issue,” Kennedy said. “For us, it’s just been inconsistency. We hit such peaks and valleys. We’ve been either really high or really low, and it seems to flip on us from game to game.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or parrish.alford@journalinc.com.