By Parrish Alford
Many Americans, if they’re not shopping, will dial back and relax the day after Thanksgiving.
That approach could be detrimental for the Ole Miss basketball team, which begins two days of play in Brooklyn in the Barclays Center Classic.
The Rebels are 4-0 with a true road win at Coastal Carolina in pocket, but the intensity of the schedule ramps up today.
Ole Miss and Georgia Tech tip off at 3:30 p.m. The Rebels will play either St. John’s or Penn State on Saturday.
Both days’ play in the Barclays will be televised by the NBC Sports cable network.
After several seasons of productive play from Reggie Buckner and Murphy Holloway the Rebels are remaking their frontcourt this season, and at times that’s been painfully obviously.
Juniors Demarco Cox and Aaron Jones are coming off season-ending injuries from a year ago. Kennedy knows he’s going to have to count on freshmen Dwight Coleby and Sebastian Saiz, who have had mixed results early.
Coleby hasn’t been at full strength but got a little more playing time in Tuesday’s 84-50 win over North Carolina A&T.
“I thought it was great to get Dwight Coleby, who’s been nursing a leg injury, extended minutes to see how he can be block to block most especially defensively,” said Kennedy, who is hoping the 6-foot-9 Coleby can help fill the shot-blocking void left by Buckner’s absence.
Jones had a 11 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina A&T.
“First career double-double. I was real proud of him,” Kennedy said. “Bear (Cox) got one last game. I thought A.J., was really active, especially in the second half.”
Mississippi Valley State and North Carolina A&T are two common opponents for Ole Miss and Georgia Tech (5-1).
Tech defeated Valley 76-59 and A&T 78-71. Ole Miss had higher scoring games with both, defeating Valley 111-82.
“We pride ourselves on defense, and to be honest, we need to improve on defense,” Jones said. “We pride ourselves on defense, but we’ve got some things we need to improve on.