By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The winningest coach in the history of Ole Miss basketball addressed his future as the Rebels’ coach following a stunning, NCAA-hope draining 73-67 loss at rival Mississippi State.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, without naming Ross Bjork, referred all such questions to the school’s athletics director.
Bjork expressed support for Kennedy and the program following the team’s loss at struggling South Carolina on Feb. 20 to Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger and said Kennedy would be evaluated at the end of the year.
“All those questions, all of that speculation should be answered by the person who has the ability to make those decisions, not by me,” Kennedy said.
A year ago Bjork, months into his new job, made the decision to extend Kennedy’s contract but added no money to his $1.3 million annual salary. Kennedy has two years remaining on the contract.
In his seventh year Kennedy is 146-86 at Ole Miss. His team’s have played in the NIT in five of his first six season.
It’s not a given that Ole Miss would play in the NIT this season. Bjork has said he’ll rely heavily on in-put from Ole Miss players.
MSU forward Roquez Johnson played well in his return from a three-game suspension, notching 10 points and five rebounds.
Coach Rick Ray was less concerned about his production than about his hustle.
During Johnson’s suspension, Ray showed him the team’s hustle chart and how Johnson’s numbers there had dropped off.
“I said, ‘Don’t worry about the scoring, that’s a secondary thing right there. People are scouting you and taking away your drives and some opportunities like that, but what you are is a hustle guy,’” Ray said.
Player of the game
Colin Borchert scored a career-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and he hurt Ole Miss both inside and out. He made 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
“I can’t tell you how much energy and enthusiasm our guys had for that basketball game when they saw the student body population filled up like that.” – MSU coach Rick Ray
Ole Miss hosts Alabama on Tuesday, while MSU visits South Carolina on Wednesday.
Parrish Alford and Brad Locke