Nick Williams remembers a team that didn’t give full credit to its opponent. Andy Kennedy remembers a key injury and players who might have wanted to be somewhere else.
The Rebels hope to create new and better memories today when the face the Blue Raiders in a much more hostile environment than at the DeSoto Civic Center last year where Middle Tennessee defeated Ole Miss 68-56.
The rematch is today as the Rebels (6-0) go on the road for the first time and face an RPI top 100 opponent. Tip-off is 4 p.m.
The Blue Raiders, coached by former Tupelo resident and Mississippi State assistant Kermit Davis Jr., did more than beat Ole Miss last year. They won a school record 27 games before losing at Minnesota in the NIT quarters.
They’re off to a 6-2 start with losses against Florida in Tampa and at Akron. The Blue Raiders are coming off an 84-64 win against UAB on Wednesday.
‘A good team’
“The main thing I remember is Murphy (Holloway) getting hurt … hotly contested, they came out on top. A good team. And they’ve got a good team this year,” Kennedy said. “I also remember it was the get-out game for Christmas break, right before the holidays, and a couple of guys might have checked out early.”
Middle Tennessee put four players in double figures last year, led by sharp-shooting guard Raymond Cintron, who was 4 for 7 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points.
Most of that team is back, including Cintron, who knocked down three 3-pointers and had 13 points against UAB.
“I remember the kid Cintron making a lot of shots, and they were talking a lot. Rightfully so, they made some big shots and did what they needed to do to win. Coach was telling us all through the week that team was good, and I don’t think we really took him seriously. I know this year will be a lot different,” Williams said.
Middle led 42-41 with 10 minutes, 9 seconds remaining last year when Holloway went down with a severely sprained ankle.
“It’s a challenge,” Kennedy said. “The next step in the maturation of figuring out who we are.”