Mississippi strives to take next step

By The Associated Press

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s basketball program is still struggling to take its next big step.

The Rebels’ season ended in the National Invitation Tournament for the fifth time in six seasons last week after a 96-93 loss to Illinois State. Ole Miss finished with a 20-14 record and an 8-8 mark in the Southeastern Conference.

That’s not necessarily a bad season, but there’s plenty of pressure on coach Andy Kennedy to finally build a team that can make the NCAA tournament. The Rebels haven’t been to the NCAA tournament in any of Kennedy’s six seasons and the program’s 10-year absence from college basketball’s premier showcase is the SEC’s longest.

Ole Miss returns most of its team next season, including forwards Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway and guards Nick Williams and Jarvis Summers.