By Parrish Alford
In the give and take of college basketball, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy is hoping he can strike the right balance.
He doesn’t want the Rebels to give up too much in the way of defense with a lineup that brings the greatest offensive potential.
After two neutral site wins against major conference foes, the Rebels play their second true road game of the season tonight at Kansas State as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
Ole Miss is 6-0 after wins against Georgia Tech and Penn State in the Barclays Classic in Brooklyn.
Kennedy called the New York trip “productive” and hopes to see the Rebels transfer their aggressive play from a festive, lightly intensive holiday venue to a more hostile environment.
“It’s difficult to do, because on the road you tend to be a little more tentative,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to be dependent upon our upperclassmen to lead us.”
The Rebels nearly matched up with Kansas State in the NCAA tournament in Kansas City last March.
With Sprint Arena packed with their fans, the Wildcats were upset by La Salle, who upset the Rebels in the following round to reach the Sweet 16.
Ole Miss defeated Georgia Tech and Penn State with different styles. The Rebels held Tech to 20.6 percent shooting, forced 12 turnovers and blocked 10 shots in taking control in the first half.
Against Penn State the Rebels his a season-high 11 3-point shots.
“I don’t feel like we played our best,” said junior guard Jarvis Summers, who leads the team with 15.7 points a game as he spends less time at the point. “I feel like we came together as one, listened to coach and did the scouting report right.”
Kansas State is 4-3 with losses against Northern Colorado, Charlotte and Georgetown and without a win against a major conference opponent. The Wildcats have been held to 63 points or fewer four times and are 1-3 in those games.
The Rebels’ best offensive lineup includes 5-foot-10 sophomore Derrick Millinghaus at the point with Summers and Marshall Henderson at the shooting guards.
That’s not the team’s best defensive lineup, however.
“We just don’t have any size. When you’ve got Derrick on the ball, and you’ve got Marshall, who’s 6-2 and plays about 5-4, and you’ve got Jarvis who is 6-3 and still waiting for his first dunk in college … it tends to be a little challenging defensively, especially when you play a team from the Big 12 like K-State who’s got big, athletic wings,” Kennedy said.