Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said he was able to emphasize the positives from the Rebels’ 77-55 win over East Tennessee State, even though he was concerned by their 18 turnovers, the second time in two games Ole Miss has reached that figure.
Protecting the basketball then being more efficient with it are two areas in which Kennedy hopes to see the Rebels improve tonight in their second road game.
Before taking part in a holiday tournament in Hawaii over Christmas, the Rebels will play at Loyola-Marymount tonight in a 10 p.m. CT tip. The game will be televised on ESPNU and streamed live on ESPN3.
“After you watch the tape and exhale you see a lot of good things,” Kennedy said. “Our ball-security, focus and lack of attention to detail are things that drive me crazy, because I think that’s the ceiling for how good our team can be, but I’ve been pleased with the effort and the energy for the most part.”
The Rebels open play in the Diamondhead Classic on Dec. 23 against Indiana State. They will play either No. 18 San Diego State or San Francisco on Christmas Eve.
The field also includes No. 4 Arizona. The Rebels will play their third Honolulu game on Christmas Day.
From a travel perspective, Kennedy liked the idea of a single game out west before traveling on to the island.
“If you tried to do it all at once it would take the whole day,” he said. “This way we can get our body clocks to start changing a little big. We dropped our first challenge on the road against a quality opponent in Middle Tennessee. It’s my hope this will toughen us up as we approach road play in the SEC.”
Junior guard Anthony Ireland leads the Lions (5-4) with 21.1 points a game.
“He’s as good as anybody we’ve played this season and quite possibly as good as any we’ll face this year,” Kennedy said.
Loyola has also had ball-control issues, ranking No. 204 in turnover margin at minus-0.3 per game.
While Kennedy tries to get his players to value possession of the basketball, the good news is the majority of the turnovers are not coming from starting point guard Jarvis Summers.
Summers has committed six turnovers while totaling 33 assists. He leads the SEC and ranks fourth in the nation in assist-turnover ratio at plus-5.5.
Summers numbers drive a statistical ranking of No. 6 in turnover margin. The Rebels are at plus-6.8 per game. Kennedy would like to see the Summers-like numbers spread through his team.
“The area we need to improve on, first and foremost, is our focus with the ball,” he said. “As we get ready to head west, we have to understand the value of the ball and how important each possession is for us to win in tough environments on the road.”