By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
For Murphy Holloway, it’s about defense. For Andy Kennedy, it’s about offense.
Ultimately, for Ole Miss it’s about winning – which is what the Rebels must do today at LSU to keep NCAA tournament hopes alive.
As recently as Friday, the Rebels were listed as the “first team out” in ESPN’s NCAA tournament projections.
They face an LSU team that has won five of its last seven, most recently a 68-57 victory at Texas A&M.
Tip-off at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is 12:30 p.m., and the game will be televised as part of the SEC Network package.
Ole Miss has lost five straight road games after winning its first three SEC trips to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Auburn.
The last two have been the most damaging to the NCAA resume, at South Carolina and at Mississippi State, two sub-200 RPI teams.
“Whatever we’re doing at home we need to try and take it on the road as far as defensively. I don’t know if it’s energy from the arena, but we need to try and find out what it is,” said Holloway, the Rebels’ senior power forward.
Ole Miss held Auburn below 40 percent shooting and did the same with Alabama for much of the game until the Crimson Tide went three-point crazy at the end to draw closer in an 87-83 Ole Miss win Tuesday night.
Eighty-seven points would have allowed the Rebels to win by 20 or more at both South Carolina and MSU.
“We haven’t played very well, most especially offensively,” Kennedy said. “You’re talking about a 20-point swing most nights where we’re scoring in the 80s when we’re in this building, but we’re only scoring in the 60s on the road.”
Kennedy will continue to try to get his offense going with early touches to Holloway and center Reggie Buckner.
He’ll need defense from his bigs too especially against LSU sophomore Johnny O’Bryant, a Cleveland native that Kennedy worked hard to lure to Ole Miss.
A 6-foot-9 sophomore, O’Bryant is averaging 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Kennedy says O’Bryant is as good a low-post scorer as there is in the SEC.
“We recruited him as hard as we could for a long time,” Kennedy said. “We knew the potential that he had, and he’s playing to that, playing free in the post.”