By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A blowout loss in what might have been the last realistic chance for Ole Miss to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee was followed by a profanity-laced tirade from the Rebels’ high-profile transfer, Jelan Kendrick.
Witnesses said there was a post-game confrontation between Kendrick and teammate Reggie Buckner following the Rebels’ 102-76 loss to Vanderbilt Thursday night.
Kendrick reportedly accused Buckner of quitting during the game, and the two had to be separated once Buckner had entered the locker room and come back out.
Kendrick, the first McDonald’s high school All-American to sign with Ole Miss basketball, transferred from Memphis after what was described in media reports as a difficulty in getting along with teammates.
Because of the transfer, he was not eligible until the posting of fall-semester grades. He was suspended by head coach Andy Kennedy for the first game in which he could have played.
Kendrick refused repeated attempts from coaching staff members – including, ultimately, Kennedy – and other support staff personnel to encourage him to enter the locker room.
Kennedy had nothing to say regarding discipline that may be forthcoming as the Rebels prepare for a Saturday road trip to No. 1 Kentucky.
“I’ll figure it out. You guys would be amazed at what happened on a day-to-day basis. You got a taste of it tonight,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said he did not see how the bad feelings between Kendrick and Buckner began.
“I didn’t see it all. There was frustration, and with the way we played, there was frustration to go around. I’m sure some of it was misguided,” he said.
Kendrick eventually entered the coaches’ locker room, not the players’ locker room.
Only remnants in a Tad Smith Coliseum crowd of 5,954 remained when the Commodores surpassed the 100-point mark with 45 seconds left.
Vanderbilt began the night with a 29 RPI, the Rebels at 50. Ole Miss is now 2-7 in games against top 50 RPI teams.
Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor hit his first seven shots, and the Commodores built a 25-point first-half lead with a 31-7 run to the intermission.
Taylor was at 18 points with more than 7 minutes to play in the first half finished with 23 in the first 20 minutes. He had 28 points and nine rebounds for the game.
Vanderbilt (18-8, 7-4 SEC) shot 62.5 percent from the floor, 63.2 percent (12 for 19) from 3-point range.
Joining Taylor in double figures were guard John Jenkins with 26, and center Festus Ezeli with 13. Jenkins, then Taylor, are the top two scorers in the SEC.
The Rebels (15-10, 5-6) shot 40.3 percent and were led by Jarvis Summers’ 14 points. Murphy Holloway added 13, and Nick Williams had 10.
Three technical fouls were charged against Ole Miss, one belonging to the fans after debris was thrown on the court for a second time.
Down 22-21 the Rebels were shooting for the lead, but a Kendrick floater was way short, and Jenkins quickly hit a 3 on the other end.
Later, it was 25-21, and the Rebels would have been within a bucket of the lead again had a Williams 3-pointer found the mark. It didn’t, and Ezeli dunked on the other end.
As the Vanderbilt lead lengthened the crowd became unruly, and a cup of ice landed on the playing floor with 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining in the first half.
At least one fan was escorted out, but that was from a separate incident.
Debris was thrown on the floor again, and a technical foul was assessed with 13:21 left in the game. The Rebels trailed 69-41 at the time, and two free throws from John Jenkins gave Vanderbilt an even 30-point advantage.
Kennedy was assessed a technical foul with 9:38 left.
Terrance Henry, who was 3 for 15 shooting over his previous two games, got off to a fast early start with seven points.
He finished with nine points on 4 for 8 shooting and fouled out with 7:06 left with the third technical foul charged to Ole Miss.