Rebels fighting for bye in SEC tourney

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

ATHENS, Ga. – In the beginning, the road wasn’t such a bad place.

In fact, Ole Miss won its first two SEC games in an opponent’s gym, but things have changed.

Now coming off a disappointing performance in a 67-64 loss at Alabama, the Rebels need a win at Georgia to maintain a hold on third place in the league.

The top four SEC finishers get a double-bye in the conference tournament in March.

KENNEDY

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Tipoff at Stegeman Coliseum, where the Bulldogs are 5-1 against the SEC, is 3 p.m. It’ll be seen on Fox Sports South.

“If you look at our home and away numbers, it’s staggering,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “From guys we expect to be more consistent, the numbers are vastly different home and away.”

The most offensive consistency has come from guards Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, averaging a combined 36.3 points a game.

Summers’ scoring has tailed off a bit of late. After a five-game stretch of shooting at least 50 percent, he’s shooting just 32.3 percent over the last three games including a 2-for-9 outing at Alabama.

Rebounding is the biggest difference.

While the rebounding margin is even at home, it’s minus-6 on the road. Rebound averages for both Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones are down about 3.5 per SEC game away from home.

At Alabama, the Rebels were minus-8 on the glass and were outscored 34-18 in the paint.

“In our wins, Sebas and AJ are getting us like 15 and 15. In our losses they’re getting us about half that production. That coupled with a really inept shooting percentage makes for long nights, and that’s what we’ve experienced on the road,” Kennedy said. Marshall continues to struggle on the road, and if you’re not getting second- and third-chance opportunities off the glass, which we weren’t, ultimately you’re not going to manufacture enough to give yourself a chance.”

Georgia was plus-8 on the glass and had 40 points in the paint in its 75-55 win at Mississippi State on Wednesday.

Good road start

Ole Miss started the SEC season with wins at South Carolina and Vanderbilt. The Rebels have non-conference wins at Coastal Carolina and Western Kentucky plus neutral-site wins against Penn State and Georgia Tech.

The last three visits to Stegeman Coliseum have resulted in Ole Miss wins.

It’s not a trend that will continue if some things don’t change, Kennedy says.

“You can’t go on the road and shoot mid to upper 30s from the field and get outrebounded,” Kennedy said. “If we don’t shore up these rebounding woes, we’re putting ourselves in a position that unless we make every shot, it’s going to be hard to win.”

parrish.alford@journalInc.com