By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ole Miss forward Reggie Buckner has been bothered by knee pain and did not start the Rebels’ 73-60 loss to Tennessee.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said he opted not to start Buckner, because he had not practiced this week.
“He hadn’t practiced. I’m trying to get out of him what we can. He brings a dimension that we don’t have when he’s not in the game,” Kennedy said. “Without practice reps, I’m looking at the numbers, 24 minutes, gets one defensive rebound and doesn’t block a shot. We missed him all around even when he was in the game.”
Buckner finished with three rebounds total and attempted – and missed – one field goal.
“When we were winning early, he was close to a double-double guy. We were getting over 20 points and 18 or 19 rebounds out of he and Murph (Murphy Holloway).
That’s what this team has to have from a productivity standpoint,” Kennedy said.
Buckner had 19 points and 15 rebounds when the Rebels defeated rival Mississippi State 75-68 in Oxford on Jan. 18.
He has not gotten more than six rebounds in a game since getting nine against the Bulldogs in Starkville, a 70-60 loss on Feb 9.
REBELS WILL FIGHT
Ole Miss forward Terrance Henry said the Vols’ gave the Rebels fits with their size advantage inside, and that led to Tennessee getting the position it needed on the low block to have such a commanding rebounding advantage of 40-28.
As Kennedy calls on the Rebels to fight, Henry says he and his teammates will answer that call Saturday against an LSU team that defeated Ole Miss by 26 points, 81-55, when the teams met in the SEC opener in Baton Rouge on Jan. 7.
“We will, I know we will. Our backs are against the wall, and we will come out fighting. They beat us by 26. We know what they’re going to do, and we’ve got to stop the bleeding,” said Henry, a Monroe, La., native.
THE QUEST FOR 20 WINS
Kennedy’s Ole Miss teams have won at least 20 games in five of his first six seasons.
If the Rebels are to reach 20 wins again, they’ll have to get it done inpostseason, either with a deep SEC run or an NIT run.
The injury-plagued 2008-2009 team went 16-15 and presently is Kennedy’s only team not to reach postseason.
The Rebels won 24 games and reached the NIT semifinals two years ago; they won 20 games and lost in the NIT first round last year.