By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
Kennedy applauds crowd
– OXFORD – A number of Ole Miss students returned from spring break early – or at least interrupted it – to be present for the second-round NIT game against Memphis.
The game was announced a sellout around mid-day Thursday with many Memphis fans buying the tickets.
The number of fans appeared to have an edge to Ole Miss, but the volume sounded equal for both teams.
“There was emotion in the building. Our people really rose to the occasion even with our students being on spring break,” said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who has been vocal before about trying to improve the homecourt atmosphere.
School will be in session when the Rebels host a third-round game with a trip to New York on the line Tuesday.
Limited time for Polynice
– Guard Eniel Polynice played in his second straight game following his suspension at the end of the regular season.
He attacked the rim aggressively but not with great success. He drove the lane and converted his only field goal attempt but also had two turnovers in 5 minutes. The Rebels had just eight turnovers for the game.
Polynice might have played more had Zach Graham not been so effective.
“Everybody needs a third option. We have our staples, and then we try to fill in the gaps with other guys,” Kennedy said. “Zach was as aggressive as he’s been in a long time. We got contributions from a lot of different guys, and that’s what we have to do to beat quality teams.”
– Freshman Reggie Buckner had three blocked shots, giving him 56 for the season and tying the season record set by David Dean in 1993.
Eight made 3-pointers by the team tied the season record of 273 set by the 2008 team that reached the NIT semifinals.
Chris Warren had only one made 3-pointer, but that was enough to extend his streak of games with at least one to 43.
– “Coach told us to just be aggressive. They switch defenses a lot, but he told us to not be tentative and just play. Our focus was there. We understood the importance of this game.” – Zach Graham.