By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Ole Miss will be without its leading rebounder tonight when it tries to snap a two-game losing streak in a hostile environment at Dayton, Ohio.
Murphy Holloway, third in the SEC with 9.6 rebounds a game, sustained a severe ankle sprain in the Rebels 68-56 loss to Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 21.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy is hopeful Holloway will be back for the Rebels’ SEC opener at LSU on Jan. 7.
“He’s progressing as well as can be expected,” he said. “He’s genetically gifted and healing quickly.”
Kennedy has several options for filling Holloway’s void, the most likely being moving senior Terrance Henry back to the power forward position he played last season.
Holloway’s transfer from South Carolina allowed the 6-foot-9 Henry to move out to the perimeter where he has the athleticism to create match-up problems for opponents.
Henry averaged 6.0 rebounds last year, 3.9 this season.
Senior reserve Steadman Short could factor in as well. Short averaged 3.8 rebounds last season and had as many offensive rebounds (55) in 577 minutes as Henry had in 963.
An off-season injury delayed his availability this season. He’s appeared in five games, averaging 6.8 minutes.
While he tries to keep rebounding steady Kennedy is trying to fix the Rebels’ ball-handling too. Ole Miss (9-3) is averaging 16.75 turnovers a game.
Inexperienced guards are one factor in the ball-handling, but turnovers have come from every direction. Four players have 28 turnovers or more, led by the senior Henry with 36, then 35 from freshman point guard Jarvis Summers.
The Rebels have a recent history with Dayton but not at the Flyers’ 13,455-seat UD Arena.
Dayton defeated Ole Miss 68-63 in the NIT semifinals two years ago and 78-71 in Oxford last season when the Rebels had a 15-point second-half lead.
Under first-year coach Archie Miller, the Flyers (9-4) defeated Illinois-Chicago 64-57 on Dec. 23. Two days prior they lost 69-64 to Seton Hall. Both games were at Dayton.