OLE MISS

January 2014 Archives

7645085.jpeg

Ole Miss looks for the season sweep of South Carolina as the Rebels host the Gamecocks on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Tad Smith Coliseum. In their first meeting, Ole Miss held on to win 75-74 in Columbia, S.C., behind a career-high 22 points from Anthony Perez.

Ole Miss is 5-2 in Southeastern Conference play and tied for second in the league standings with Kentucky, two games behind league-leading Florida. A win over South Carolina would tie last year's team and the 1937-38 team for the best start to SEC play through eight games.

The team's two leading scorers, Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, combined for 42 points while the rest of the team combined for 28 points, with no other Rebels in double figures in Wednesday's 86-70 loss at Tennessee. The Volunteers also held a decisive edge in rebounding (45-27), points in the paint (36-24) and second-chance points (19-4).

"We didn't get a lot of production from anyone other than those two," said head coach Andy Kennedy after Wednesday's loss. "You know Marshall was a volume guy tonight, but he made a few and kept us in it. Jarvis got in some early foul trouble and that took away from his aggressiveness. Those two guys have been pretty steady for us, we obviously have to get contributions from others, and that's really what's allowed us to get off to a 5-1 start, we were getting contributions from other people. Tonight, that wasn't the case."

South Carolina won its first league game Wednesday, an 80-52 home win over Texas A&M, having dropped its first six league games. The Gamecocks shot 52.2 percent from the field while limiting the Aggies to 35.6 shooting. Four players scored in double figures, led by a pair of freshmen in Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell with 19 points each.

"It feels good to win," said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin after Wednesday's win. "As a coach, you sleep a little bit better after a win. If we were 6-0 and got beat today, I would have been miserable. I can't pay attention to the record. I'm happy for our kids. They deserved to win. They went out and earned it. They have stayed positive even though results haven't gone their way. We have to feel good about it, but we can't celebrate that we won because then we will go in there on Saturday and not play well. We have to embrace the process of what we have done."

VIDEO: Tennis Promos

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
The Ole Miss women's tennis team returns to action on Saturday, as it hosts Jacksonville State at 10 a.m. at the Gillom Sports Center. The Ole Miss men's tennis team is off this week before hosting Southern Miss on Friday, Feb. 7.


478_a.jpg
Here's part of a profile on former Ole Miss football player and now successful businessman Billy Van Devender, who was college teammates and roommates with Archie Manning. The full story, as well as the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation website, is linked below.

At the premiere of the ESPN Films documentary "The Book of Manning," Billy Van Devender shared a special moment with former roommate and good friend Archie Manning. 

In partnership with Ole Miss athletics, the Van Devender and Manning families made significant contributions to the Forward Together campaign to rename the indoor football practice facility the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

"It was very emotional," Van Devender said. "My wife, Mollie, and I were there, and my children were there. Archie and Olivia did not know that it was going to be named after them. They walked in the room, and there were a lot of moist eyes in the room. Everybody was excited and emotionally charged. They were very appreciative of it. It's a great tribute to them. 

"I've always believed that, 'to whom much is given, much is expected.' Everyone says they want to give back, and that's what I'm trying to do here. I feel strongly that we have the right leadership at Ole Miss, and I know that head football coach Hugh Freeze is not only interested in winning football games, but he's genuinely interested in the student-athletes who we're recruiting and playing football. He wants them to be good examples and good citizens when they leave Ole Miss."

Full StoryGiveToAthletics.com

Link to reserve tickets for Ole Miss men's basketball remaining SEC home games:

Saturday, Feb. 1 vs. South Carolina, 12:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Feb. 8 vs. Missouri, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 18 vs. Kentucky, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22 vs. Florida, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 26 vs. Alabama, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 8 vs. Vanderbilt, 12:30 p.m.

Ole Miss carries its four-game winning streak into Wednesday night's game at Tennessee (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network), where the Rebels routed the Volunteers, 92-74, in last year's meeting.

As of Tuesday, Ole Miss is No. 57 in the RPI, according to ESPN.com. The Rebels are 2-4 against the RPI top 100, with wins over LSU and Vanderbilt and losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Mercer and Dayton. A win over Tennessee, currently rated No. 53 in the RPI, would be the their fifth road win and their best RPI win of the season, with LSU currently the highest rated win at No. 65 in the RPI.

"We're a pretty confident group," said head coach Andy Kennedy in Monday's media opportunity. "We have won four straight. It's just the next game for us. It's obviously a huge opportunity anytime you get a chance to play a team in the top 60 in the RPI. We all know how the RPI is balanced where they give you a lot more weight if you find a way to break through on the road because everyone realizes how difficult that is." 

Different Tennessee Team From Last Year

With the return of Jeronne Maymon from injury and the addition of Memphis transfer Antonio Barton, it's a different Tennessee team from last year's two meetings, which were both Ole Miss wins. Jordan McRae leads the team, averaging 18.5 points per game, while Maymon and Jarnell Stokes combine for 24.6 points and 17.8 rebounds per game.

Stokes and Maymon are ranked second and third, respectively, in the Southeastern Conference in rebounding. As a team, Tennessee ranks second in the SEC in rebounding margin at +8.9 rebounds per game, and leads the league limiting opponents to 30.6 rebounds per game. The Volunteers also lead the league in defensive rebound percentage (71.5 percent), and rank second in offensive rebound percentage (41.7 percent).

"This (Tennessee) group has experienced a lot, and they're big and physical, so we have to make sure we buckle that chinstrap and understand that there will be nothing easy in Knoxville," Kennedy said.

Ole Miss' Formula For Success

For Ole Miss, the formula for success, as Kennedy said Monday, is pretty simple. It starts with Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, who are both ranked in the top eight among scorers in the SEC. 

Henderson leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation averaging 4.19 3-pointers per game, and has hit a 3-pointer in a school record 52-straight games. Summers has increased his scoring by 8.9 points per game from last season, and ranks in the top five in the SEC in both assists (3.6 assists/game) and field goal percentage (51.7 percent).

"Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards not only in the SEC but in college basketball," said Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin on Monday's SEC teleconference. "Jarvis is putting up tremendous numbers, as far as 55 percent from 3-point line and 50 percent from the field at the point guard position. He's physically strong. Marshall does what he's good at doing, which is making shots, getting open and making plays."

Ole Miss also has to get contributions from a number of different guys, particularly in the frontcourt. Anthony Perez has averaged 14.7 points per game over the last three games, including a career-high 22 points at South Carolina. 

Aaron Jones is ranked third in the SEC with 2.6 blocks per game, and has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of the last four games, while Sebastian Saiz has averaged 8.0 rebounds per game over the last four games.

Replacing Newby

Martavious Newby, another one of those contributors, will be out at least this week as he recovers from a hand injury suffered in Saturday's win over Mississippi State. With Newby's injury, LaDarius White, Derrick Millinghaus and Janari Joesaar will have expanded roles on the perimeter, and it could also mean more minutes for the players in the frontcourt. 

"There's an opportunity there," said Kennedy on Monday's SEC teleconference. "And as we discussed after the (Mississippi State) game, even though his numbers don't jump off the page at you, people who cover us understand the importance of Newby and the energy and toughness that he brings. He's probably our best on-ball defender on the perimeter, so there are a number of different areas that he was very helpful to us. We will have to do it by committee, whether that's a guy playing a few more minutes here or there in different combinations, or opportunities for new guys. That will all be determined moving forward."

VIDEO: Rebel Parents

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy met with members of the media Monday, ahead of the Rebels traveling to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Tennessee Volunteers on Wednesday night (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network).

On Tennessee being comparable to Ole Miss:

They're a little different that us. They're really physical up front. Last year, they didn't have (Jeronne) Maymon, and now he's back. When you talk about him and (Jarnell) Stokes, that's a heck of a tag team. They're both built, physical kids. They're skilled. It's a little different matchup for us, as it relates to the physicality that they're going to present up front. 

And then when you throw in Jordan McRae in there, you're talking about two of those guys are seniors and a junior who has played a lot of minutes. Jordan McRae is probably as explosive a scorer from the wing as there is in our league. He's a guy who has a chance to be Player of the Year in the league. They picked up a fifth-year guy in Antonio Barton, who transferred from Memphis. He's experienced and has played in big games before. 

They have a number of different weapons. They have size off their bench. We had success in there last year simply because we went in and made a bunch of baskets. We scored 92 points, and if we can do that again this year, I would feel better about our chances, but that remains to be seen.

On what Florida did to limit Tennessee offensively in the Gators' 67-41 win on Saturday:

They really struggled shooting the ball. Florida is the best defensive team in our league and one of the best in the country. They don't lose many in Gator Alley. The best of the best have been in there and left with their heads down simply because they take you out of offense and they don't give you second-chance opportunities. Tennessee is very good off the offensive glass, so Florida was good in their first-shot defense, limiting them getting any second-chance opportunities and kept them out of rhythm the whole game.

On defending Tennessee compared to defending LSU:

It's different based on the physical makeup of their team. When you think LSU, I think long and athletic. They have smaller guards, but their frontline with Jordan Mickey, (Johnny O'Bryant) and Jerrell Martin are all very long and athletic, and really inexperienced with two of those kids being freshmen. This (Tennessee) group has experienced a lot, and they're big and physical, so we have to make sure we buckle that chinstrap and understand that there will be nothing easy in Knoxville.

On what a win at Tennessee would do for the team's confidence:

We're a pretty confident group. We have won four straight. It's just the next game for us. It's obviously a huge opportunity anytime you get a chance to play a team in the top 60 in the RPI. We all know how the RPI is balanced where they give you a lot more weight if you find a way to break through on the road because everyone realizes how difficult that is. 

Florida and us are the only two teams in the league with multiple road wins to this point. That again speaks to how difficult it is to go in and win on the road. We'll formulate a game plan, and hopefully when the moments arise, our players will rise up and make a play and that will ultimately decide it.

On the four-game winning streak dating back to the win over LSU:

Our formula is pretty simple, and you will hear me say this all year. Jarvis has established himself as one of the best guards in the league, and he's playing that way. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence in him. He's given us leadership that is above and beyond. Marshall is Marshall. Marshall is the only guy in the country who can go 4-for-15 and be the lead story. He's the only guy can go 2-for-12 and be the MVP of the game. He's a different guy. He has an ability to make shots, and he made a lot of them in there last year, so I'm sure a lot of attention will be paid toward him, and we have to do a good job of playing off that. He has to make his share, and then we have to play the way the defense determines. 

We have to get contributions from a number of different guys, and we're getting those. Anthony Perez has put together the best three-game run of his early career. Sebas(tian) (Saiz) is continuing to produce for us. AJ (Aaron Jones) is getting more and more confident as we approach the year anniversary of his knee injury. He's getting more confident in understanding his role, not as a spot guy, but a guy who is instrumental in us winning or losing. Dwight Coleby is starting to help us a little bit more. Bear (Demarco Cox) is showing he's certainly capable. We got to get Snoop (White), Derrick (Millinghaus), and Janari (Joesaar) will have an expanded role with the injury to Newby, so we have to continue to get contributions from a number of different guys.

On any discipline for Marshall Henderson from his exchange of words with Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray:

Rick, at the end of the game in the hallway, when I was done with the media, he came up to me and apologized and said that he had said something to Marshall. I didn't even know what he was talking about. I see it on the tape, and the camera caught him mouthing something. That's not an issue for us. I don't foresee anything happening moving forward from our standpoint.

On players' awareness of the RPI:

I got the United Nations in my locker room. I hit them with the APR, GPA, and I'm not even sure they know what NCAA is, most of them. You're inundated with it. They watch college basketball like we watch college basketball, and it's talked about 24/7. They obviously understand. Now, they probably don't get the formula; I don't get the formula. Sometimes I think I figured it out, and then something happens, and the line shifts on me sporadically. 

We're through a third of the SEC season. That's hard to believe, and it's easier to break it down that way. We're through 6 of the 18 (league games). We went 5-1, and if we can do that in the next two quadrants, we'll be in pretty good shape. We understand the importance of the game. The guys know that Tennessee is a good basketball team, and they will know it exponentially after we go through it the next 48 hours.

On Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones being more assertive and physical inside:

We are getting more physical. AJ is becoming more confident in his ability to bounce up and get out-of-area rebounds, which is something we needs to do for us. Sebas is getting more experienced in understanding what he needs to do to grab them at this level. Our guards are getting better. Anthony is helping us in that regard. Sometimes we play him at the 3, and sometimes we play him at the 4. Marshall and Jarvis's rebounding numbers have gone up since we have gotten into league play. We're second in the league -- one blocked shot behind LSU -- for the blocked shots lead in the league in SEC play and leading the league in field goal percentage defense, from an efficiency standpoint, in league play. We're doing a lot of good things on that side of the ball with turnover margin, and rebounding percentages have gone up. 

We were trying to block too many shots and taking ourselves out of position. We didn't understand when to go and when not to go. Many times you get blocked shots off the ball. If it's an off-the-ball big, and he doesn't get it, then you're pretty naked on the other side of the rim, and that's where we were really getting hurt with second shots. Our guys are doing a better job of understanding when to go, and we have really tried to emphasize guards getting to the level of the ball, so when they do go to block a shot, we have bodies on bodies on the other side of the ball.

On Dwight Coleby's minutes changing with the injury to Martavious Newby:

I'm trying to get more out of him because he gives us an athleticism and a big physical body who's probably more similar to Reggie, from his ability to block a shot than even AJ, even though AJ blocks a lot of shots. Coleby gives us more of that Reggie basket protector, and so I'm trying to get him to go. He's a freshman, and these are high-level games, and I'm not quite as patient as I am right now.

On Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon being a measuring stick for the Ole Miss frontcourt:

It's going to be a challenge. They're two of the best in the league, and they're going to present some issues for us. Through six games, we know who we are, and we have to do a better job of being disciplined and playing to our strengths.

Ole Miss Athletics Week In Review (Jan. 20-26)

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 20-26)
Jan. 20-26, 2014

Men's Basketball
- Men's hoops ran its record to 5-1 in SEC play with a pair of wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State last week.
- The Rebels have won four in a row in conference play and are now 25-8 in their last 33 games against SEC foes dating back to 2012.
- Ole Miss' 19-point, blowout win over MSU was the largest margin of victory over the Bulldogs since downing MSU 84-61 in Oxford in 1997.
- The win at Vanderbilt marked the first time in school history the Rebels have won games at Memorial Gym in back-to-back seasons.
- Jarvis Summers scored 19 points against MSU and became the 35th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark in his Ole Miss career.

Women's Basketball
- The Rebels went 1-1 on the week, highlighted by a thrilling 87-85 overtime win over in-state rival Mississippi State. Kenyotta Jenkins scored on a putback with just one second left on the clock to give the Rebels (10-11, 1-6 SEC) their first SEC win. The win was also the first SEC victory for first-year head coach Matt Insell.
- Tia Faleru picked up her 10th double-double of the season with 29 points and 15 rebounds against Mississippi State. Faleru's 10 double-doubles lead the SEC and are the most for an Ole Miss player since Nikki Byrd had 12 during the 2011-12 season.
- Valencia McFarland posted her third consecutive game of 20+ points with 27 against Mississippi State. She also tied her career high with 12 assists. She played her third consecutive game of 40 or more points against the Bulldogs. She averaged 26.6 points during that span.
- McFarland is now 48 points away from her 1,500th career point. She will become the seventh 1,500-point scorer in program history. Faleru is also nearing her 1,000th point, as she is just 204 points away from the milestone. She will become the 17th 1,000-point scorer in program history.
- Shequila Joseph nailed five triples against the Bulldogs, a career-best and season-best for the Rebels against Mississippi State.

Track & Field
- Ole Miss athletes collected three event wins, two facility records, one school record and more than 30 indoor personal-best marks over the two-day Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational.
- Competing against a couple of nationally ranked teams and several SEC squads, the No. 16 Ole Miss men were led by Sam Kendricks' facility record 18-2.75 in the pole vault, Daniel Bulmer's school-record 4:02.80 mile (in his first-ever race as a Rebel), and Robert Domanic's 3,000-meter title in 8:12.04.
- Freshman sprinter Jalen Miller also shined for the Rebel men, posting the best 60-meter time among collegians in Nashville with his 6.69, and placing second in the 200 meters with a personal-best 21.41.
- Ole Miss athletes who rank among the top 25 nationally in their events include Kendricks (No. 1 pole vault - 18-4.75), Phillip Young (No. 6 triple jump - 52-2.5), Bulmer (No. 13 mile - 4:02.80), Miller (No. 14 60m - 6.67), Mike Granger (No. 17 60m - 6.69), Robert Semien (No. 23 60m hurdles - 7.91), Fabia McDonald (No. 5 pentathlon - 3,989; No. 11 long jump - 20-3.5) and Kierra White (No. 21 long jump - 20-0.25).

Women's Tennis
- The Rebels went 1-1 at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to finish 2-1 for the week, after a season-opening 7-0 win over Jackson State. In the loss to No. 34 Oklahoma in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off, the match was much closer than the final score. The doubles point came down to a tiebreaker at No. 2. When the Sooners clinched, the Rebels were winning in two of the three remaining singles matches.
- The Rebels rebounded from the disappointing loss to Oklahoma to dominate No. 40 William & Mary 4-0 in the consolation match of the ITA Kick-Off. In the win, the Rebels did not drop a set in avenging a 4-3 loss to the Tribe last year. In fact, the Rebels only lost 10 games total in the two doubles and three singles matches they won to clinch the victory.
- Freshman Zalina Khairudinova made her dual match debut last week and finished 5-1 in singles and doubles in three matches. Her only loss in singles came down to a third-set supertiebreaker against Oklahoma. In the other two matches, she only lost five games total in singles and doubles. Khairudinova and junior Julia Jones are off to a 5-0 start this spring, including 3-0 in dual matches at No. 3 doubles. They have lost only five games total in the five matches they've played together this spring.
- The Rebels begin a four-match homestand this Saturday, Feb. 1 with Jacksonville State at 10 a.m. Fans can enjoy free pizza between doubles and singles.

Men's Tennis
- The Rebels went 0-2 in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, losing two tight matches to No. 26 Michigan and No. 25 Clemson. It marked the first time the Rebels did not advance to the National Team Indoor Final 16 when hosting the first and second rounds.
- Nik Scholtz, ranked No. 15 nationally, won both his singles matches in straight sets to improve to 11-5 on the year. Scholtz will be competing for his home country, South Africa, this weekend in Davis Cup play in Pretoria, SA. It marks the third time for him to represent his country in the Davis Cup.
- Senior Johan Backstrom also won both his singles matches in straight sets to improve to 34-27 in dual matches for his career.
- The Rebels have annually ranked among the nation's attendance leaders. Saturday they had 575 fans for their opening round match of the ITA Kick-Off.

Rifle
- The Rebels competed in the Withrow Invitational this past weekend in Murray, Ky.  The team shot a 4623 aggregate, including 2284 in smallbore and 2239 in air rifle.
- Freshman Ali Weisz continues to pace the Rebels, as she led the team with an aggregate of 1162, including a 588 in air rifle and 574 in smallbore.
- The Rebels are back in action Feb. 5 at Memphis, before hosting Navy on Feb. 8.

Upcoming Schedule

Wednesday
Men's basketball at Tennessee - 7:00 p.m.

Thursday
Women's basketball at South Carolina - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday
Women's tennis vs. Jacksonville State - 10:00 a.m.
Men's basketball vs. South Carolina - 12:30 p.m.

Sunday
Women's basketball vs. Florida - 1:00 p.m.

Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin and South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. The Rebels travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Volunteers on Wednesday (7 p.m., SEC Network) and then return home to play the Gamecocks on Saturday (12:30 p.m., SEC Network).

Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement:

It's a big challenge going into Knoxville Wednesday night. Cuonzo has a very good basketball team, anchored by those two big boys up front. Jordan McRae is having a Player of the Year-type season to this point, so we know there will be a number of challenges that we will have to face.

On Martavious Newby's surgery and timetable for his return:

We don't know as far as timetable. The surgery was successful. They put a plate in his hand. If it was a football player, they would tape it up, pad it, and he could probably play within a week or so based on pain tolerance. With it involving the ability to catch the ball, that's not an option for us. It will be a day-to-day thing. He will certainly be out this week, and honestly it will be week-to-week depending on how quickly he responds to the procedure.

On replacing Martavious Newby:

There's an opportunity there. And as we discussed after the (Mississippi State) game, even though his numbers don't jump off the page at you, people who cover us understand the importance of Newby and the energy and toughness that he brings. He's probably our best on-ball defender on the perimeter, so there are a number of different areas that he was very helpful to us. We will have to do it by committee, whether that's a guy playing a few more minutes here or there in different combinations, or opportunities for new guys. That will all be determined moving forward.

On Ole Miss leading the SEC with 7.1 blocked shots per game:

Last year, we lost the all-time leading shot-blocker in the history of our program and a guy who I think finished in the top five in the SEC's history in Reginald Buckner. This year, it's a little different. We're doing it by committee. Aaron Jones is leading our team. He is very active, he has quick hands, and he is long. He's a different shot-blocker than Reg, though, in that he probably does as much on the perimeter as he does at the basket. He's really quick off his feet and he has the ability to get his hand on a lot of balls. 

And then the rest of our guys, everybody just has that skill set. Juan Sebastian Saiz, one of our true freshmen, is really long and has good timing. Dwight Coleby is starting to round into shape after an early season injury, and he's athletic at the basket. Demarco Cox, our other big, has length and size at the rim. It's just really who we are. We have to make good decisions, as to when do we try to block the shot and when to stay in rebounding position. We had some real issues leading into conference play. We have gotten a little better once we have gotten in league play about taking ourselves out of rebounding position by trying to block too many shots. As we have garnered more experience, because we're relatively young up front, guys are having a better of sense in when to go try to block the shot.

On riding a wave of momentum with four straight wins:

The numbers say that we have won four in a row, so I certainly like those numbers. Other than that, we're just trying to get a little better. We're getting contributions from different guys, whether it is some of the young guys I just mentioned or Anthony Perez, who played very little last year. He's probably had his best three-game stretch in his career, as he's garnering more confidence. He's being more productive. As a whole, we're getting contributions from new guys, and as a result, we're playing a little better.

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

Opening statement:

We play a very talented Ole Miss team. They're playing very well, 5-1 in league play. They're shooting the ball well. Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards not only in the SEC but in college basketball. Jarvis is putting up tremendous numbers, as far at 55 percent from 3-point line and 50 percent from the field at the point guard position. He's physical strong. Marshall does what he's good at doing, which is making shots, getting open and making plays. They are a very talented team and do a great job of using their big guys diving to the basket and making plays.

On Jarnell Stokes:

He's done a great job. He comes in and watches film. He was in the gym this morning working out. He's seeing the floor a lot better and making plays. He's better off the dribble. He's aggressive in making moves to the basket. He's rebounding the ball well on both ends of the floor. He's always been a good offensive rebounder, but he's doing a better of getting defensive rebounds and boxing out. He's playing good basketball overall.

South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin

Opening statement:

Once again, we're excited to play at home. It feels like we have played at home one time all month. Getting around our fans will be great for our players. We play (Texas) A&M, which we just went head-to-head with here shortly ago and then have to turn around, travel again and play at Ole Miss. I'm coaching against two guys with whom I have great personal relationships with and respect tremendously. Both have really good teams. It's an exciting week for us, as every day is, when we realize how lucky we are with what we get to do every day.

On the team's sense of urgency with a 0-6 SEC record:

That is what my job title is directly tied to. I can't put winning games above winning people. Right now, we have to continue to make our guys understand that we're trying to win people. If we can figure out a way to keep our kids excited and connected with who we are, and that we're not that far off, rather than solely focused in on winning and losing games, then that will happen. And eventually, when you win one, your kids feel better because we're so young that you don't them to get discouraged because everyone who reaches out to them in social media is probably discouraged that we're not winning. 

My job is to make sure that our guys continue to stay encouraged because we are close. You're at Missouri, and you are down two possessions with 50 seconds to go, so you're right there. You get a stop, make a shot, and now it's a one-possession game, but it didn't happen. We're fighting our tails off to put ourselves in the same place where we could have two, three or four conference wins right now, so we have to keep our kids focused on that.

On progress when looking at the game within the game:

I'm extremely proud of my kids. I have been unhappy after one game, and that was the Georgia game. We did not fight and we never gave ourselves a chance to win. That's the only game that I have been unhappy about. Early in the year, we went into Oklahoma State, and they made the run in the first half, and we fell apart. We just went into Missouri, which is very comparable and very similar to Oklahoma State, and an equal home-court environment. We got down I think 11-0, and next you thing know, it's 20-16, so we have grown as a team. 

That's my job. It's to keep my guys focused. My kids are really young, and they don't understand anything yet. I don't have any upperclassmen to make them understand reality. It's my job to get them connected with the fact that even though we might not be getting the results from a win-loss standpoint that we are a better basketball team and these are the reasons why. That way they stay excited about what we're doing, which they are right now, and we can continue to progress.

7647158.jpeg

The Ole Miss men's tennis team, ranked No. 10 in the nation, lost a pair of hard-fought matches in the ITA-Kick-Off Weekend, first to No. 26 Michigan (4-3) on Saturday and then to No. 25 Clemson (4-2) on Sunday.

"The first thing that I saw was Nik Scholtz played really well, and he's really proving himself to be one of the best players in the country. The other person if I single out what I really liked is Johan Backstrom who played great," head coach Billy Chadwick said of the weekend. He played absolutely great."

Scholtz, ranked No. 15 in the nation, won both of his singles matches at No. 1 singles in straight sets. It was vintage Scholtz, a two-time All-American, who battled elbow injuries late last season.

The story of the weekend, however, was the stellar play of Johan Backstrom, the team's lone senior. He won both of his singles matches, including a dominant 6-0, 6-4 win over Clemson's Austin Ansari on Sunday. 

Backstrom entered the weekend with a 32-27 career record in dual singles matches, having played mostly No. 5 and No. 6 singles in his first three seasons for the Rebels.

And after being limited to just two matches, both in doubles, during the fall season, the Uppsala, Sweden native is playing perhaps the best tennis of his career.

"I played very well in both matches this weekend, especially today in my first set," Backstrom said. "It was really good. I was doing what we have been working on in practice with the coaches, so that's a great feeling to be able to show that improvement in a match. It was good for me."

Ole Miss has a relatively young team, especially at the bottom of the lineup in singles and doubles, including redshirt freshman Vinod Gowda at No. 5 singles and Zach Wilder at No. 6 singles, as well as sophomore Joe Rogers who teamed with Wilder at No. 3 doubles. 

This weekend marked the first career dual matches for both Gowda and Rogers, while it was the third and fourth career dual singles matches for Wilder.

"They're fighting very hard," Backstrom said. "It's tough to come in there. Vinod had a great effort today coming back. Yesterday, it was first dual match. He showed today that he learned from that and he was able to come back today. Zach just has to keep on working, and I'm 100 percent sure he will play better and better through the season and bring us some wins in the future."

Backstrom has embraced his role as one of the older, more experienced players, as he looks to continue his steady play and help the underclassmen on the team.

"You have to act more like a leader and lead by example in everything you do, on and off the court," he said. "You help the younger guys to play at their potential. It's a different feeling when you're out there, but I like it."


Ole Miss avenged its 76-72 loss to Mississippi State earlier this season, as the Rebels routed the Bulldogs 82-63 Saturday in Oxford. With the win, Ole Miss improves to 14-5 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play.

"We have to do a good job of protecting home floor," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We let three get away from us, one possession here and one possession there, and those are things that still sting. The challenge was to come in and do what you're supposed to do and that's protect home floor."

The Rebels' two leading scorers, Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, each finished with 19 points, but it's the contributions from the supporting cast that have lifted the Rebels during the current four-game winning streak dating back to their win over LSU on Jan. 15.

LaDarius White joined Henderson and Summers in double figures with 11 points, his fourth game in doubles figures since the start of SEC play. Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones each finished with double-digit rebounds, while Anthony Perez added nine points and seven rebounds.

"We need Marshall and Jarvis to be all-league caliber players, and to this point, they're both playing as such," Kennedy said. "And then we have to get contributions from different people. We knew coming into the year that the biggest void was along our frontline. 

"We're having to do it by committee, and Anthony is getting more comfortable, and as those freshmen get more minutes, we will see more production."

Moving forward, however, Ole Miss will be without Martavious Newby, who suffered a broken hand and will have surgery Monday. Kennedy was unsure if it was a season-ending injury.

"He's a difference-maker," Kennedy said. "We have nobody on our team now that can fill the role that Martavious Newby did. He was starting to emerge and help us in that role. 

"Everybody talked about Anthony and the 22 points he had at South Carolina. Martavious Newby came in and changed the entire flow of the game in the second half by having three steals and keeping two balls alive, which led to baskets that got us back in it. That's the energy and toughness on the ball that he brings."

The Rebels return to action next Wednesday, as they travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Tennessee Volunteers. Ole Miss is currently No. 61 in the RPI, while Tennessee is No. 50, according to ESPN. It marks the first of four games against an opponent with an RPI in the top 50, with Missouri just outside at No 53.


QUOTABLE: "This is not a popular answer, because when people think Mississippi State-Ole Miss, they think Egg Bowl and it's the season-ender. And regardless of what happens in that game, both teams have an opportunity to exhale and then prepare for whatever is next. 

"For us, you can't put that much emphasis on it. It's important to me. A lot of people get a little more excited about this game than they do for the others. For us, it has to be a workman-like approach because we play every three days, and at the end of the day, this is one of 31. I'm certainly glad for Rebel Nation that we gave them something to be excited about." -- Andy Kennedy, on the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivalry

7625731.jpeg

Ole Miss meets Mississippi State for the 249th time Saturday in the Southeastern Conference's most-played rivalry, as the Rebels look to avenge their lone SEC loss of the season on their home court. In their last meeting, Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC) defeated Ole Miss 76-72 in Starkville, Miss., but the Rebels (13-5, 4-1 SEC) were without leading scorer Marshall Henderson (18.7 points per game).

"For us, we have a better feel having played them," head coach Andy Kennedy said on Monday's SEC teleconference. "It's crazy how the schedule works -- you don't play some teams until the end of the season, and we play our in-state rival twice in a two-week period -- but we will do what we do.

"Marshall was a part of our team through 12 of our first 13 games, and then he had to sit out the first two league games, but now he's back and he will have had three games under his belt heading into that game, so infusing him into what we do will not be any different."

The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Henderson is averaging 18.3 points per game over the three games since his return from suspension -- all Ole Miss wins, including a pair of road wins at South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

"Well we just look at it one game at a time, but it's good for us," said Kennedy after Wednesday's 63-52 win at Vanderbilt. "It's never easy on the road, and for us to win two of our first three shows that this team is maturing. Every game is close for us, and every game is hard, and I think our guys are starting to do a better job of that."

Henderson ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring and leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation averaging 4.33 3-pointers per game. Henderson also became the fourth player in school history to join the 1,000-point club in just two seasons.

"It changes their team because you got a guy who's a vocal point of their offense now," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray of Henderson after the Bulldogs' 82-74 win over Auburn Wednesday night. "And the thing that is amazing about Marshall Henderson, no matter what people think about him, he cuts so hard 30 to 35 minutes a game.

"It's really amazing that he can cut that hard for 30 to 35 minutes like that and still make shots. And that changes the perspective of their team. And now you have a guy like (Jarvis) Summers, who's a really good player but he becomes a secondary guy, so it becomes a pick your poison as far as far as how you're going to defend them."

Summers is second on the team and ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring, (17.9 points per game), having increased his scoring 8.8 ppg over his average last season. The Rebels have also gotten increased production from their frontcourt.

Aaron Jones leads the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in rebounding, averaging 7.2 boards per game. He posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against LSU, and then posted eight points, 10 boards, five blocked shots and three steals against Vanderbilt.

Sebastian Saiz scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds against LSU, while Anthony Perez has scored in double figures back-to-back games, including a career-high 22 points against South Carolina. 

For Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC), Craig Sword leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game. Sword scored all 15 of his points in the two teams' last meeting from the free-throw line, having made more free throws than Ole Miss had attempted as a team.

A Closer Look: ITA Kick-Off

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Three things from Ole Miss men's tennis head coach Billy Chadwick, previewing the ITA Kick-Off this weekend at the Gillom Sports Center Saturday and Sunday:

1. Four Top 26 Teams
012513_TITA_0812.JPG
The No. 10 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis opened the 2014 season at the MLK Invitational this past weekend on the campus of Georgia Tech with singles and doubles matches against Georgia Tech, No. 3 Georgia and No. 21 Memphis. Among the highlights included a pair of singles wins each for junior Nik Scholtz, ranked No. 15 in the nation, and sophomore Stefan Lindmark.

"Our objective was to prepare for this weekend coming up," head coach Billy Chadwick said. "The format of the tournament that we went to guaranteed three singles and three doubles matches. It was against great competition, so we feel like we accomplished what we wanted to. We're better prepared for this weekend."

Ole Miss now turns its attention to the ITA Kick-Off this weekend, where it hosts No. 22 Illinois, No. 25 Clemson and No. 26 Michigan at the Gillom Sports Center. The winner of the two-day regional advances to the National Team Indoor Feb. 14-17 in Houston, Texas.

"You're looking at four teams in this regional that are very equal, all very strong from top to bottom, our team included," Chadwick said. "There is no one that wouldn't say this is the strongest regional in the country. We have to take advantage of playing here at home and we need to make that the difference in putting us over the hump. If we get a good crowd out there, it can be the difference in us advancing to the Final 16."

"It's a huge opportunity and it's a very important weekend for our team," senior Johan Backstrom said. "All three teams coming here are really good teams. If we get through these two matches, it's a key for the rest of the season. Going to the National Indoor, where you are guaranteed three matches against the top teams in the country, can be a huge importance the rest of the season as far as rankings."

2. Michigan Rematch

The Rebels will face No. 26 Michigan Saturday at 10 a.m. in the first round, with No. 22 Illinois against No. 23 Clemson in the other first-round match. The winners will meet Sunday.

The match with Michigan marks a rematch from the 2012 NCAA second round. Ole Miss defeated Michigan 4-2 to advance to the Sweet 16, the program's 16th Sweet 16 appearance. Backstrom clinched the match with a 6-3 win in the third set at No. 5 singles.

"We saw them two years ago when the NCAA sent them down here when we were hosting the regionals," Chadwick said of Michigan. "We had a tough, tough battle with them. They're always well prepared. The coach for them, Bruce Berque, used to be the assistant at Florida for years, so we're familiar with him and the job that he did there. And he has made Michigan a top-25 program, year in and year out."

"Hopefully we can play as well as we did in that match and get through them to face either Illinois or Clemson," Backstrom added.

3. New Doubles Pairing

The doubles point was a key to success for Ole Miss last season, with the Rebels posting a 13-2 record when winning the doubles point, compared to 3-7 when losing the doubles point. Lindmark and junior William Kallberg, ranked No. 51 in the nation, solidified themselves as a team winning the ITA Southern Regional in the fall and participating in the ITA National Indoor.

Last season, Scholtz teamed with Jonas Lutjen and ended the season ranked No. 4 in the nation and posted a 20-7 overall record, including 15-3 at No. 1 doubles. With Lutjen graduated, Scholtz now teams with Backstrom, and they posted a 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles against the nation's No. 12 team from Georgia this past weekend.

"I was very impressed with Johan's doubles last year, so he was the logical one to step in and play with Nik," Chadwick said. "Johan has really good returns and he has a really big serve. Those two things are essential when you're playing against the top doubles teams in the country. We have the makings of a good team with Johan and Nik."

"It's always fun playing with such a great player," Backstrom said. "We got better and better each match, and hopefully we can keep on getting to know each other as doubles partners, improve throughout the season and hopefully do some great things."



The Ole Miss women's tennis team, ranked No. 35 in the nation, swept Jackson State 7-0 Wednesday in its home opener at the Gillom Sports Center.  The Rebels won every set in the match, dropping just two games in doubles play and 13 games in singles play.

"We had good preparation this weekend in the Michigan Invitational," head coach Mark Beyers said. "We did what we needed to do and played pretty well at some spots. Most of all, no one got hurt, and everybody is better than they were last week. That's what we need in order to be successful this weekend."

Ole Miss continues play at this weekend's ITA Kickoff in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which serves as the qualifier for the National Team Indoor Championships. The Rebels will play No. 34 Oklahoma on Saturday (2 p.m.) and then either No. 12 Alabama or No. 41 William & Mary on Sunday.

"It's a huge match against Oklahoma," Beyers said. "They have a good team with three seniors in their starting lineup. It's going to be a tough assignment.  We're looking forward to getting to know our team better and see where we are as far as competing against NCAA Tournament-quality teams. We'll see after that. If we can get past Oklahoma, hopefully we get a shot at the winner of Alabama and William & Mary and see if we can get back to Charlottesville, Va. to the National Indoors."

7627298.jpeg

Three things from Ole Miss women's basketball head coach Matt Insell, previewing the Rebels' game vs. Mississippi State Thursday night:

1. Rivalry Game

This is the 86th meeting all-time between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The Rebels hold a 62-23 series advantage, but the Bulldogs have six of the last seven meetings. Prior to an Ole Miss win last season, Mississippi State had won the previous six meetings, its longest winning streak in the series. 

Head coach Matt Insell said they can't get too high or too low in a rivalry game. He has talked to the team about having poise in all situations and not playing on emotion, particularly in the first four to five minutes of the game.

"It's the next game on the schedule," Insell said. "Rivalry games are important because you want to win them, but it's no more important than the last game was against Arkansas. We're going to attack this game no different than we attacked the Arkansas game or the Vanderbilt game. We're going to go in and prepare for this game the same way. 

"I'm sure there will be an extra edge. There is with our staff, and I know the players will have an extra edge in terms of focusing in and preparing themselves because you always want to beat your rival. It's important not only to you, but it's really important to your fan base and the whole Rebel Nation to get a win over Mississippi State."

2. Breaking Through

With Sunday's 68-65 loss at Arkansas, Ole Miss is now winless in its last 10 SEC games, dating back to the 2012-13 season. However, in SEC play this season, the Rebels have lost three of their five games by nine points or less.

"We're at that point where we're having a chance to win games," Insell said. "Now, we have to win those games. We have to start making that shot when you're open, and we have to start getting that rebound when it comes off. We're right there at that point. 

"I talk about the process. Early on, the process was to convince our team that we can compete in these games. Now that we have shown that we can compete, the process changes. Now, you have to start talking about how we're competing, but how can we finish these games."

3. Following McFarland's Lead

Senior guard Valencia McFarland leads the team and ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring averaging 16.2 points per game. McFarland has scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games with a career-high 28 points against Vanderbilt, followed by 25 against Arkansas, marking her sixth and seventh 20-point game of the season.

McFarland also ranks second in the SEC in assists averaging 6.2 assists per game. Insell noted that McFarland has played at this high level despite teams double-teaming her and doing other things defensively against her.

"She has taken her game to a different level," Insell said. "I have said time after time that she's the best point guard in this league. She's showing that night in and night out. She's going out and giving us what she has to give us. Her game is at a high, high level right now, and other people are taking notice."

On Jan. 15, 2013, senior guard Marshall Henderson entered the college basketball consciousness and put Ole Miss basketball back on the map.

Vanderbilt had hit a go-ahead 3 to give the Commodores a 78-75 lead over Ole Miss with 3.2 seconds left in regulation. Moments later, Henderson threw in a 35-footer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, as Ole Miss downed Vanderbilt 89-79, the third of six-straight wins to open Southeastern Conference play last year.

"We didn't call a timeout," head coach Andy Kennedy said of the play. "We got the ball in the guy's hands that we wanted. I would give Jarvis (Summers) more credit than I would give anybody else because he was the one that didn't panic and got Marshall to at least where he was square to the basket. And then he knocked down a shot at the end of a crazy game. 

"As we're preparing for (Vanderbilt), I always go back to the last time we were in the venue, and they hit a Memorial Gym record number of 3s. It was one after another after another after another. For us to withstand that and still find a way to win and still to garner some momentum in our 6-0 start was huge."

It was the first of many memorable moments for Henderson and last year's team, as the Rebels returned to Nashville and won the Southeastern Conference tournament championship to clinch the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since 2001.

"It was just one game, but honestly it was probably the jump-off to this phenomenon that has continued 365 days later: Marshall Henderson phenomenon," Kennedy said. "That was closely followed up by us winning at Auburn and the jersey popping, and this thing took on a life of its own."

A year later, the phenomenon continues, and Henderson ranks second in the SEC in scoring averaging 19.2 points per game. He also leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation averaging 4.43 3-pointers per game and has hit a 3-pointer in a school record 50-straight games.

The Hurst, Texas native was named SEC Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. He averaged 22.0 points and 3.5 assists per game in wins over LSU and South Carolina, and now he returns to where the phenomenon started: Memorial Gym and a Wednesday night matchup with the Vanderbilt Commodores.

"He presents unusual challenges because of his shot-making ability," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said. "He has such great ability to make difficult shots. Most great scorers just know how to get themselves -- or their coaches get them -- to the shots that they can make time after time. 

"The deal with Henderson is he can just make more difficult shots. They run really good screening action for him, and he is a very fast cutter. He's unique in the way that he can score and really score in bunches. He can get them in flurries -- two, three or four in a row. I would say that he's unique in the way that he goes about it."

Ole Miss Athletics Week In Review (Jan. 13-19)

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Ole Miss Athletics Week In Review
Jan. 13-19, 2014

This is a new feature we're going to do each week on the blog. Each Monday we will recap everything that has happened in the past week in Ole Miss athletics, and we will also list a schedule of upcoming games, matches and meets.

Men's Basketball

- Senior guard Marshall Henderson was named SEC Player of the Week after posting 22.0 points and 3.5 assists in a pair of wins last week.
- Sophomore forward Anthony Perez scored a career-high 22 points in a road win at South Carolina. It was the Rebels' first win in Columbia since 2001.
- Freshman forward Sebastian Saiz scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the overtime win over LSU on Wednesday. Ole Miss outscored the Tigers 19-5 in the overtime period to blow past LSU.

Track & Field

- The No. 16 Ole Miss men and the Rebel women performed well against high-level indoor track & field competition at last weekend's Auburn Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., led by another meet record by pole vaulter Sam Kendricks.
- Kendricks set a meet record and bested the next closest vaulter by a foot and a half with his winning clearance of 18-0.5. It was the second straight weekend that he set a meet record, as he established the nation's best vault of the indoor season a week earlier with his school-record 18-4.75 at the UAB Blazer Invitational en route to SEC Men's Field Athlete of the Week honors.
- Other highlights included senior Phillip Young in the triple jump (52-2.5), freshman Jalen Miller in the 60 meters (6.67) and 200 meters (21.45), sophomore Onyi Afoaku in the weight throw (62-10.75), and freshman Robert Domanic in the mile (4:07.20), all of which rank highly in the NCAA this year.
- For the women, senior Fabia McDonald had a strong pentathlon score of 3,989 (just off her school record of 4,005) that ranks her second nationally this year.

Men's Tennis

- The No. 11 ranked Rebels participated in the MLK Invitational hosted by Georgia Tech Jan. 18-20.
- The round robin format included doubles and singles against Georgia Tech, No. 3 Georgia and No. 21 Memphis. No team scoring was in effect.
- Nik Scholtz, ranked No. 15 nationally, went 2-1 in singles to lead the Rebels. Scholtz also teamed up with Johan Backstrom in doubles for the first time − after two years with former All-American Jonas Lutjen − and the pair defeated 12th-ranked Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland from Georgia.
- Ole Miss hosts the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26. The Rebels face No. 26 Michigan Saturday at 10 a.m. The regional also includes No. 22 Illinois and No. 23 Clemson.

Women's Tennis

- The Rebels participated in the Michigan Invitational Jan. 18-20 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The team played singles and doubles against No. 11 Michigan, No. 21 Georgia Tech and South Florida.
- Junior Julia Jones and sophomore Marija Milutinovic went 2-1 in singles. Jones improved to 11-4 on the year and Milutinovic improved to 8-4.
- Freshman Zalina Khairudinova made her debut for the Rebels, going 1-1 in singles and 2-0 in doubles with Julia Jones.
- The Rebels host Jackson State Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Gillom Sports Center in their home and dual match opener. Admission is free and fans will receive an Ole Miss tennis t-shirt and enjoy popcorn between doubles and singles.

Women's Basketball

- Ole Miss went 0-2 on the week with an 80-74 loss to No. 24/25 Vanderbilt, and a heartbreaking 68-65 road loss to Arkansas. Ole Miss is now 9-10 on the year and 0-5 in SEC play.
- Valencia McFarland set a new career-high against Vanderbilt with 28 points, besting her previous mark of 25 set against Alabama in 2010-11
- Tia Faleru picked up her fifth game or 20 or more points with 20 points against Vanderbilt, she has reached the 20+ mark six times in her career.
- Faleru is nearing the 1,000-point mark, as she is just 245 points from the milestone. She would become Ole Miss' 17th 1,000-point scorer.
- Monique Jackson posted her first game in double-figures this season with a career-high 11 points and six rebounds, going 5-of-5 from the field against Arkansas.

Rifle

- After an almost two-month break, the Rebels began the spring season hosting No. 4 Jacksonville State and No. 5 Nebraska.
- The Rebels posted a season-high aggregate of 4637, falling to Nebraska (4643) by just six shots. Jacksonville State finished with a 4655.
- Senior Alivia Yeager shot a season-high 577 in smallbore to lead the Rebels. She finished with a season-high aggregate of 1157.
- Freshman Alison Weisz tied her season-best with a 591 in air rifle. Weisz, with a 567 in smallbore, eclipsed her season average in aggregate with a season-high total of 1158.
- Senior Abbey Stanec scored above her average in total aggregate with an 1165.

Upcoming Schedule

Monday
Men's tennis - Georgia Tech Invitational - All Day
Women's tennis - Michigan Invitational - All Day

Wednesday
Women's tennis vs. Jackson State - 2:00 p.m.
Men's basketball at Vanderbilt - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday
Women's basketball vs. Mississippi State - 6:00 p.m.

Friday
Track & Field - Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational - All Day

Saturday
Men's tennis vs. Michigan - 10:00 a.m.
Women's tennis vs. Oklahoma - 2:00 p.m. (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Men's basketball vs. Mississippi State - 3:00 p.m.
Track & Field - Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational - All Day

Sunday
Rifle - Withrow Invitational - 8:00 a.m. (Murray, Ky.)
Women's basketball vs. LSU - 1:00 p.m.
Men's tennis vs. Clemson/Illinois - TBA (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis vs. Alabama/William & Mary - TBA (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Head coach Andy Kennedy and sophomore forward Anthony Perez met with members of the media Monday to preview Wednesday's night game at Vanderbilt.

 
Head coach Andy Kennedy looked back on Saturday's 75-74 win at South Carolina and looked ahead to Wednesday night's game at Vanderbilt, as well as discussed senior guard Marshall Henderson's last-second shot to force overtime at Vanderbilt last year and the emergence of sophomore forward Anthony Perez.


Sophomore forward Anthony Perez talked about his career-high 22 points in Saturday's 75-74 win at South Carolina. It was his first career 20-point game, having averaged 4.5 points per game entering the game.

Selected questions and answers from Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings and Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray. The Rebels travel to Nashville, Tenn., to play the Commodores on Wednesday night (8 p.m., CSS) and then return home to host the Bulldogs on Saturday (3 p.m., SEC Network).

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement:

It's week three of the SEC grind going into a very difficult place to play at Vanderbilt Wednesday night and then following up against Mississippi State, who we just faced a couple of weeks ago, at home on Saturday. It's two more challenges for us.

On close and overtime games:

For us, it's ultimately a window into who we are. We have played 17 games and we are over halfway through our season, and we have played a lot of close games. Not only did we play the three overtime games, but almost every game we play is a one possession here or there that is going to determine winning and losing. 

We better be comfortable in the chaos, which are close games, because that's who we are. A team does grow in the more times you're in a tight situation, and you would hope that guys learn from it and be able to use it to their advantage as the season continues.

On playing Mississippi State for the second time:

For us, we have a better feel having played them. It's crazy how the schedule works -- you don't play some teams until the end of the season, and we play our in-state rival twice in a two-week period -- but we will do what we do. 

Marshall was a part of our team through 12 of our first 13 games, and then he had to sit out the first two league games, but now he's back and he will have had three games under his belt heading into that games, so infusing him into what we do will not be any different.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings

Opening statement:

We had a good win and got our butts kicked, so we had an up-and-down week last week, and we're still trying to strive to achieve some consistency, but we're relatively healthy. 

It's a big week. Mississippi seems to be playing very well right now, and we have had some really close, competitive games with them. We'll have to be very, very read in all phases to play them. They can really score it. They are big and athletic inside. (Jarvis) Summers looks like he's having a terrific year. We know that we have our hands full, but we look forward to getting back into action on Wednesday.

On Marshall Henderson and Texas A&M's Jamal Jones as scorers:

The big thing is having a constant awareness as to where they are at, their proximity to the ball and maybe the angles and the paths that they like to take to get to their shots. It's just a heightened awareness to where great scorers are at all times because that's what makes them great scorers. It is their ability to get to their spot and shot quickly and create a good result from it. 

More than anything else, it's a terrific awareness on everybody's part as to where guys like that are.

On Marshall Henderson as an X-Factor for Ole Miss:

He presents unusual challenges because of his shot-making ability. He has such great ability to make difficult shots. Most great scorers just know how to get themselves -- or their coaches get them -- to the shots that they can make time after time. 

The deal with Henderson is he can just make more difficult shots. They run really good screening action for him, and he is a very fast cutter. He's unique in the way that he can score and really score in bunches. He can get them in flurries -- two, three or four in a row. I would say that he's unique in the way that he goes about it.

On the defenses Marshall Henderson faces being a compliment to him as an offensive player:

The defenses that he probably sees in every game that they play is a compliment to his scoring prowess because people try all sorts of different things, but he still gets his shots and points. A lot of times when you have a great scorer like that, the more you keep it out of their hands, the better chance you feel like you have. 

He's going to get his touches and shots, and thus he's going to get his points because he's going to make shots.

On Marshall Henderson's last-second shot to force overtime at Vanderbilt last year

I was thinking about refraining from doing what my instincts were telling me to do to one of own players for making the mistake to let him get to that shot, which was completely unnecessary and uncalled for, but nevertheless, I wasn't surprised that it went in because he's a great shot-maker. 

As far as him being on the move, he doesn't get many shots standing still because people key on him so heavily. I don't know that he's better on the move or better standing still. He just doesn't get to shoot a lot of shots standing still because there is such an awareness of him on the part of the defense that he's having to make great and difficult cuts to get to the shots that he attempts. 

But again, it speaks to his great shot-making ability because he doesn't get very many easy looks, and he puts up great numbers at a good percentage. There's a lot to admire there relative to the task that he has to get himself open, or to utilize screens to get open, and then to convert.

Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray

Opening statement:

It was a huge win for us against Texas A&M. They came in SEC play leading in field-goal percentage and scoring defense, and I knew it was going to be a grind-out ball game, and I was really disappointed in our team at Alabama in how we shot the ball so early in the shot clock and didn't share the ball. 

It was imperative that our guys realized that with the way Texas A&M plays, it was going to be a grind, and it was. To pull off that win, we had to have that mindset. I'm looking forward to more SEC play.

7341535.jpeg

Three things from Ole Miss men's tennis head coach Billy Chadwick, previewing the 2014 season and the Rebels' first tournament, the MLK Invitational at Georgia Tech, which starts Saturday:

1. 'He Can Be The Best Player In The Country'

As Chadwick enters his last season as head coach before retiring after the season, he told the team he wants to make this their best spring, and it all starts with two-time All-American Nik Scholtz, who is ranked No. 15 in the nation.

"Nik Scholtz, if he gets to playing like he can play, he can be the best player in the country," Chadwick said. "He can win the NCAA's. He's one of those who are up there. He will be playing at the top spot for us."

The junior from Caledon, South Africa, ended the 2013 season ranked No. 17 in the nation in singles and No. 4 doubles. He posted a 20-9 overall record, 12-6 at No. 1 singles, and teamed with now-graduated Jonas Lutjen for a 20-7 overall record in doubles, despite battling an elbow late in the season.

"He has to be healthy," Chadwick said of Scholtz. "There are different things that we have been working on that are necessary for him, if he's going to make the transition from college to pro, and he has a good pro future ahead of him. If we get those things starting to fall into place, which they will, watch out for him. He's one the nation's best.

2. The Supporting Cast

Coming off a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season, Ole Miss enters the 2014 season ranked No. 11 in the nation, which is fourth among Southeastern Conference teams. The Rebels return four of their top six players, led by Scholtz, and then there's the supporting cast.

"When I look at the heart of the lineup, it's three Swedes," Chadwick said. "It's William Kallberg, Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark. Of that group, Backstrom is a senior, and he's looking to make his senior year his best year yet. We feel like that the heart of our lineup, we're looking good, and we have Vinod (Gowda) to throw in the mix also. And then to anchor things, we have Zach Wilder."

Kallberg and Lindmark are ranked No. 104 and No. 108, respectively, and combine for the nation's No. 51 doubles team. Of the three Swedes, Chadwick looks for Kallberg into the No. 2 singles spot vacated by Lutjen

"William Kallberg had an outstanding fall," Chadwick said. "If you look at his record last year, he played No. 3 and No. 4 singles, and he was the most competitive of any position we had. He played really well last year and stepped up. The match that I remember the most with him is when he clinched the match for us against Georgia. He has a real weapon with his left hand, especially with his forehand. We not only look for him to play No. 2 singles, but to play No. 2 singles and win.

3. Looking Ahead To The ITA Kickoff Weekend

The last season of the Billy Chadwick era begins this weekend at the Georgia Tech Invitational (Jan. 18-20), where Ole Miss will play singles and doubles matches against players from No. 3 Georgia, No. 21 Memphis and Georgia Tech. 

It's a tune-up for the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26, where Ole Miss will begin play against No. 26 Michigan, followed by a match against either No. 22 Illinois or No. 23 Clemson. The Rebels' first match is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. at the Gillom Sports Center hours before the Ole Miss men's basketball teams hosts intrastate rival Mississippi State on campus.

"Se scheduled it to where we are going to play in the morning because basketball plays at 3 o'clock in the afternoon against Mississippi State, so we hope to make it a sports weekend for the Ole Miss fans," Chadwick said. 

"It's outstanding competition in the regional that we're hosting. You have four big names in there and all of them are really good tennis programs with great history. From the first hit, it's going to be competitive. It's really going to show where we are."

7626623.jpegThree things from Ole Miss women's tennis head coach Mark Beyers, previewing the 2014 season and the Rebels' first tournament, the Michigan Invitational, which starts Saturday:

1. Rebels Return Top Five Players

Last season, the Ole Miss women's tennis team ended with a 16-14 record and a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to No. 15-ranked Duke. This season, the Rebels return their top five players, led by the team's lone senior, Caroline Rohde-Moe. 

"A lot of these kids gained a lot of experience and we got better," Beyers said. "Last year, we were a little too inconsistent to really reach all of our goals, but hopefully from the experience they gained from last year, they will be able to apply that this year. We have basically the entire starting lineup from last year coming back and then you add Zalina (Khairudinova) to the mix, so hopefully that will be a recipe for success.

2. Balance Throughout The Lineup

The Rebels begin the spring season ranked No. 35 in the nation, which is ninth among Southeastern Conference teams. Three players -- Mai El Kamash (No. 57), Rohde-Moe (No. 87) and Julia Jones (No. 90) -- are ranked in the top 100 in singles, and Rohde-Moe combines with Marija Milutinovic for the nation's No. 19 doubles team.

"We had different players at difference times play well in the fall," Beyers said. "Julia Jones ended up winning the Little Rock Invitation, which was a great win for her. Marija Milutinovic had a tough year with some injuries, and she really turned things around this fall. Mai El Kamash had some great individual wins, and she's currently our highest-ranked player. Different people stepped up at different times. It shows that we have a lot of depth and experience, and that creates a lot of excitement for us as coaches to see how that is going to work out."

3. Getting Started, Prepping For ITA Kickoff Weekend

Ole Miss kicks off the spring season this weekend at the Michigan Invitational (Jan. 18-20), where it will play singles and doubles matches against players from No. 11 Michigan, No. 20 Georgia Tech and No. 59 South Florida. Each team will play three doubles and three singles rounds, with points allocated to each winning player or team according to the flight position.

"It's getting back into playing team matches," Beyers said. "In the fall, it's all individual stuff, and even though it's a format where it doesn't count from a team national ranking standpoint, it's still a team format, and so to get used to having everyone playing at the same time. It's also getting ready for Jackson State and then the ITA Kickoff Weekend."

After their first home match of the season, Jan. 22 against Jackson State, the Rebels will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the ITA Kickoff Weekend (Jan. 25-26). 

Ole Miss opens the ITA Kickoff Weekend against No. 34 Oklahoma and will then play either No. 12 Alabama or No. 40 William & Mary. The winner advances to the ITA National Team Indoor (Feb. 7-10) in Charlottesville, Va.

"The good thing is, you have four good teams there, four teams that finished in the RPI Top 50, so you're guaranteed two good matches," Beyers said. "We want to go 2-0 and quality for the National Indoors in Virginia, but regardless, we're going to get two good matches. Even if you go 1-1, it's going to help from a national ranking standpoint and help you later down the road when it comes to NCAA Tournament time."


Three takeaways from Ole Miss' 88-74 overtime win over LSU on Wednesday night:

1. Rebels Finish The Drill

Ole Miss had lost its previous two overtime games and each of its three other losses were by four points or less, but Wednesday night against LSU, the Rebels made the plays down the stretch to force overtime and then outscored the Tigers 19-5 in overtime.

"It was an overall pretty solid performance out of our guys, and it sets a new standard," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "This is what we're capable of, if we take the right approach, so now it's my job to make I hold them to that standard."

"All of the games have been so close," Marshall Henderson said. It's unbelievable. Every single one of our losses, we could have won, a play here or a play there. It's so frustrating, but we know that we're right there. Anything can happen still; there are 15 SEC games left. We're hoping this is one that we can string it together."

LaDarius White hit a three-pointer with 2:16 left to cut LSU's lead to 67-65. And then in the final minute of regulation, Jarvis Summers hit a jumper in the lane to tie the game at 69-69. On the other end, senior guard Marshall Henderson forced a missed shot by Anthony Hickey in the closing seconds, and White grabbed the defensive rebound to force overtime.

In overtime, the Rebels scored the first 11 points, including a five-point swing to extend the lead to 76-69 with an offensive rebound and put-back by Sebastian Saiz, who was fouled, followed by a 3-pointer by Henderson off the missed free throw.

"We made shots," Kennedy said of overtime. "We were always in attack mode. When you go 5-for-6, you got to like your chances. We did a good job defensively coming up with some loose balls at the end."

2. Henderson Makes Splash In Return

Marshall Henderson returned to action after missing the first two Southeastern Conference games against Auburn and Mississippi State. 

After just six first-half points, he scored 19 points in the second half and overtime to finish with a game-high 25 points, to go along with a career-high seven assists. He was 7-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

A couple of those made shots by Henderson, Kennedy described simply as "Marshall shots," later adding that he's the one guy on the team who can take high-risk shots.

"Do you know what's sick? Is I expect them to go in, and that's sick," Kennedy said. "Of course, I'm the one who lets him shoot them all, so if I don't expect them to go in. I'm crazier than I look. We expect them to go in. Everyone expects them to go in."

Henderson also played with more noticeable emotion, particularly in the second half and overtime, as he made some of those "Marshall shots" and other key plays down the stretch for the Rebels.

"I was there sitting there and I was thinking about it, watching those games, and I was like, 'I can't do this anymore. I can't just be calm. It's hurting me,' which is weird," Henderson said. "I can't do it anymore. I'm sorry; I'm going back to me because we need it."

3. Saiz Breaks Out With Career-High Points

Henderson led all scorers with 25 points, but Kennedy said Sebastian Saiz was the difference in the game. The freshman from Madrid, Spain, scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds, which was one rebound shy of his first career double-double.

"It felt great," Saiz said. "I was thinking before the game that I haven't showed up the whole year, and I was thinking, 'When I was going to do it.' It's time. SEC play is here."

"He was making moves tonight that I haven't seen him make those moves," Henderson said. "He was spinning and slamming on people. I know that it's going to be good for his confidence, and confidence really for everyone in him. Maybe he's about to get on a roll."

7603364.jpeg

Three things from the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, previewing Ole Miss' game vs. No. 24/No. 25 Vanderbilt on Thursday night:

1. Rebels Remain Confident Despite 0-3 SEC Start

With a 93-79 loss at Alabama in its last game on Sunday, Ole Miss dropped to 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play. The loss also extended Ole Miss' SEC losing streak to eight games dating back to the 2012-13 season. Entering league play, the Rebels had won eight of nine games, with an 87-80 loss at No. 9 Baylor.

"We're in a good place," head coach Matt Insell said Wednesday. "We're not happy about being 0-3. We know we're 0-3, and it's not something we're hiding behind. We hurt ourselves in a lot of those games. We have to get better as a team, and if we do that, the wins will come. 

'We are still as confident as we were before we started SEC play. We're going to play our game. We're going to do what we do. We're going to go out there and get better executing and show some more toughness defensively, and that's the thing I'm asking them to do."

2. Newly Ranked Commodores Look To Continue Momentum

Vanderbilt's No. 24 ranking in this week's Associated Press poll marks the Commodores' first appearance in the poll since Nov. 19, 2012. The Commodores have won 11 of their last 12 games, including a 74-63 upset win over No. 8 Tennessee.

The Commodores are third in the SEC in scoring offense (79.2 ppg) and shoot the ball exceptionally well, leading the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (41.6%) and ranking second in field goal percentage (48.1%).

"Vanderbilt has a great team and coming off a great win," Insell said Wednesday. "They're a very fundamental team and running their stuff, and that's what makes them really good. In their offensive sets, Vanderbilt is as good as any team in the league or any team in the country, in terms of executing what they want to execute. 

"They have the right people taking the shots that they want to take. You don't see a lot of deviating outside of what they're doing offensively. That presents a big challenge because they run so much stuff that you have to worry about guarding. That's tough for you defensively."

3. McFarland-Lister Point Guard Battle

Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb credited the play of her two seniors, Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister, for the Commodores success this season. Foggie leads the team in scoring (18.8 ppg), followed by Lister (16.3 ppg), who was recently named SEC Player of the Week. Lister also leads the SEC in minutes played (35.2 mpg).

Lister runs the point for the Commodores, and for the Rebels, senior point guard Valencia McFarland was recently named to the Nancy Lieberman Watch List, which is given to the nation's top point guard. McFarland is second on the team in scoring (15.0 ppg) behind junior forward Tia Faleru (16.2 ppg). She is also second in the SEC in assists (6.2 apg) and ninth in steals (2.0 spg).

"Jasmine Lister is one of the best guards in the league," Insell said. "She brings toughness, and she's one of the toughest kids in the league, in terms of playing through a lot of adversity at times. When things are going good or when things are going bad, she always finds a way to make a play, like she did against Tennessee. Her toughness on the floor shows in the rest of the players who play with her. I have a lot of respect for her game, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of having to play against her tomorrow night."

Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, as well as selected questions and answers from Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb. The Rebels host the Commodores on Thursday night (6 p.m.) and then travel to Fayetteviile, Ark., to play the Razorbacks on Sunday (2 p.m., Cox Sports).

Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell

Opening Statement:

We're still in the process of growing as a team. We're not as far along as I would have liked to be at this point. Our record doesn't show where I would like it to be at this point. We are doing better as a team each day and as a program, and I'm very happy with the progress that we're making. We will continue to make strides and continue get better, and our record will show that as the year continues.

On Vanderbilt and senior guard Jasmine Lister:

Jasmine Lister is one of the best guards in the league. She brings toughness, and she's one of the toughest kids in the league, in terms of playing through a lot of adversity at times. When things are going good or when things are going bad, she always finds a way to make a play, like she did against Tennessee. Her toughness on the floor shows in the rest of the players who play with her. I have a lot of respect for her game, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of having to play against her tomorrow night. 

Vanderbilt has a great team and coming off a great win. They're a very fundamental team and running their stuff, and that's what makes them really good. In their offensive sets, Vanderbilt is as good as any team in the league or any team in the country, in terms of executing what they want to execute. They have the right people taking the shots that they want to take. You don't see a lot of deviating outside of what they're doing offensively. That presents a big challenge because they run so much stuff that you have to worry about guarding. That's tough for you defensively. And then you go offensively, and they run a lot of defenses, from a 2-3 zone, to a 1-3-1 zone, to a 3-2 zone, to a 1-2-2 zone. They run different stuff to try to keep you out of sorts offensively. That's something that we have worked hard on the last couple of days and not worrying about what they're in and executing what we want to execute. If we will do that, it should be an interesting game.

On the team's confidence after starting 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play:

We're in a good place. We're not happy about being 0-3. We know we're 0-3, and it's not something we're hiding behind. We hurt ourselves in a lot of those games. We have to get better as a team, and if we do that, the wins will come. We are still as confident as we were before we started SEC play. We're going to play our game. We're going to do what we do. We're going to go out there and get better executing and show some more toughness defensively, and that's the thing I'm asking them to do. 

If we will show toughness defensively and we start guarding people, instead of giving up 80-90 points, we will have a chance to win these games. We're scoring enough points to win games; we're just not guarding people well enough right now, and that comes with toughness. We will continue to get better at that, so our confidence is as high as it's been.

On the impact of the 87-80 loss at No. 8 Baylor on the program's growth:

It showed us that we can compete with anybody in the country. We played well that night. A lot of situations with us are about matchups. We're not very big, and so when teams are bigger than us, that hurts us from time to time in rebounding. We need to do a better job of boxing out, and we're working hard at that. But that game showed us that we can play at the top level, so now we have to take that effort that we had in that game, and we had great effort that game and we played as a team. 

I told the team yesterday that the only game we played all together, all 12 of us together and believing in the process and believing in what we're doing, was that game. If we can find out what we did in that game to do that and bundle that up and put it in these game coming up, then we have a chance to win some games and get some big wins. That game helped us and showed us where we're at, and it showed us where we can be. 

You look at what Baylor did to Connecticut the other night. With two minutes to go, they were in the game, and with two minutes to go against us, they were up two. So we have to take that game and that effort and we have to figure out what we did in that game and put it all together moving forward in SEC play.

Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb

Opening Statement:

We're just focused on our next game. We have done a really good job of taking it one game at a time. I have two seniors who are playing the best basketball that they have played in their four years here, and they are playing like seniors. We are looking forward to getting down to Ole Miss and playing better in each game, playing a little bitter than we just did coming off that win against Tennessee

On Ole Miss under first-year head coach Matt Insell:

They're scoring a lot of points. They're running and good in transition. They're uptempo. They're very guard-oriented and they crash the board really well. We will have to defend them and check out, which is the way you have to play a lot of games in the SEC. Where they have improved a lot from last year is their scoring.

On Vanderbilt senior guards Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister and their composure:

It starts with Jasmine Lister and her ability to control her emotions this year. She's a fiery kid, but this year, she's so much more consistent. There's an emotional maturity that they have both been working on and getting better at. And so you see down the stretch, between their experience and confidence, they have worked extremely hard on their preparation. They prepare like their seniors. They prepare like their pro basketball players, and when players do that in my program and in my system in their senior year, you usually have that confidence and composure that we need to put us in a situation to be successful.

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy meets with members of the media to discuss Wednesday night's game vs. LSU.

Three things from the SEC teleconference on Monday and the Ole Miss media opportunity on Tuesday, previewing Wednesday night's game vs. LSU: 

1. The Return Of 'Batman'

Senior Marshall Henderson, the Rebels' leading scorer and the fourth-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, returns to action after missing the first two league games last week. He has made a 3-pointer in a school-record 48 straight games and ranks third in the NCAA with 4.42 3-pointers per game.

"The advantage with Marshall returning on Wednesday is first and foremost his ability to put the ball in the basket," head coach Andy Kennedy said Monday. "Secondly, it's his ability to be the focal point of LSU's scouting report. I guarantee there will be a lot of Marshall Henderson conversation, and when you don't have him, then the focus shifts to others. 

"Sometimes guys are second or third options for a reason. There are a lot of people who want to be Batman, but they need to be Robin, and we need to get Batman back, so then we can play off the spacing that Marshall creates, and he will be back with us on Wednesday, and I'm sure he will be excited to start SEC play his senior year."

Henderson came off the bench in his first seven games this season. That, Kenendy said, won't be the case Wednesday night against LSU.

"He goes right back into the starting lineup," Kennedy said Tuesday. "We're going to play our best players."

2. Winning The Battle Up Front

Kennedy said LSU has as long, athletic and talented a frontline as there is in the SEC, led by sophomore forward and Cleveland, Miss., native Johnny O'Bryant. He leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rig), followed by freshman forward Jordan Mickey, who averages 13.9 ppg and 7.2 rpg. Another freshman forward, Jarell Martin, is fourth on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg) and third in rebounding (3.7 rpg).

"It's a tremendous challenge," Kennedy said Monday. "We have to be very physical and keep our bodies on them. We can't come into this game thinking that we're just going to out-jump them or out-reach them. They're all long and athletic.

"We have to be very physical at the point of attack. We call it first blood. We have to try to get to the ball first because of their tremendous athleticism, and they are very versatile. When you play those three guys together, with Martin playing the three, it's a long, athletic frontline, so we know they're going to pose a number of different challenges for us."

3. Finding A Third Scorer

Henderson leads the team in scoring (18.8 ppg), followed by junior guard Jarvis Summers (17.9 ppg), who has increased his scoring by 8.8 ppg over last season's average. 

When asked about finding a consistent third scorer, Kennedy specifically mentioned junior guard LaDarius White, who is fourth on team in scoring (7.7 ppg). He is averaging 13.0 points per game through two conference games after averaging 7.7 ppg in nonconference play.

"If there's any silver lining through the first two (SEC games) without Marshall it's that Snoop had to be more aggressive and make some plays," Kennedy said Tuesday. "In the second half in Starkville, when we were making a run and developing a lead, Snoop was the one making the plays for us. If he can carry that confidence moving forward, now that we're into league play, which is when he started playing better for us last year, that would be an added bonus."




7621571.jpeg

Head coach Billy Chadwick will step down at the end of the 2014 season, and associate head coach Toby Hansson was named his successor and will take the reins of the program following the season.

"Coaches in waiting, we've seen that a lot but it doesn't really work in a whole lot of places," athletics director Ross Bjork said. "We had a definitive timeline and a definitive decision, and why not go through the season where we can celebrate Billy but also prep Toby because he's ready and he's capable."

With Chadwick's endorsement, Ole Miss interviewed Hansson and came to a decision to make him the next head coach in August. Continuity was also a key part of the decision, as Hansson enters his eighth year with the program.

"We went through a process where we analyzed Toby," Bjork said. "We interviewed him. We talked about recruiting and what we need to do to continue to build the program. He checked the mark on all of them. It's the right decision for the program."

An integral part of the program's success over the last seven years, Hansson knows the program in and out, and it's a dream job for the Uppsala, Sweden native and former SMU All-American.

"I had gotten some offers from other schools for different jobs," Hansson said. "When this came up, obviously this is a dream job for me. And I'm just really excited about it. I'm glad to be here." 

In Hansson's tenure at Ole Miss, the Rebels have won five SEC West Championships, the regular season SEC Championship and two SEC Tournament Championships. Hansson is regarded as one of the top coaches in the country in developing players and has helped produced the most All-Americans in the country (11) during his tenure at Ole Miss.

"Toby is one of the top young coaches in the country," Chadwick said. "We have been very fortunate, and a lot of our success stems directly to him. For him to take over the program, we're not going to have a bump in the road. The program is in great hands. 

"You never find anyone that does not like Toby. He's extremely likable, and at the same time, he's a good disciplinarian, and he knows tennis. He's one of the best tennis minds in the country."

Hansson has learned a lot from working with Chadwick, particularly making the players feel comfortable and create a family atmosphere with players from across the country and around the world.

"When the players come here, it's a new place," Hansson said. "Making them feel comfortable and developing them is one of the biggest keys to success."

"I'm really happy for Toby," said sophomore Stefan Lindmark, a native of Stockholm, Sweden. "He's a really great coach as well. He really loves the game. He's so into it, but that makes us even more pumped to work hard for him."

By making the announcement before the 2014 season, it's a way to have a parade for Chadwick's legendary career throughout the season, as well as give Hansson an extended period of time to find an assistant coach for when he takes over following the season.

"I got some really big shoes to fill, and I'm going to take it step by step," Hansson said. "We have a big season ahead of us, so right now, that's where my focus is."

"We know that good things are headed for us, not just in more hardware for the university, but great student-athletes and lives changed," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "It's a great day for Ole Miss."


Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from LSU head coach Johnny Jones and South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. The Rebels host the Tigers on Wednesday night (8 p.m., CSS) and then travel to Columbia, S.C. to play the Gamecocks on Saturday (3:30 p.m., FSN).

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy

Opening statement: 

It's week two of the SEC grind, and we're looking forward to having the opportunity to come back home Wednesday against a very good LSU team.

On playing younger players more, particularly in the frontcourt:

We're still evaluating that. I have not been as pleased with our production as we need to be as a frontline unit. In the second half, we got production out of a number of our young guys, namely Dwight Coleby, who's just not getting back into form after an early leg injury that set him behind. Anthony Perez helped us some at the four. We have played Anthony in a number of different positions in his two years here. We have played him some on the wing. We felt like his ability at the four position gives us more versatility, not only offensively, but he was very active with six rebounds as well. It will be something we continue to experiment with.

On Jarvis Summers' improvement in the mid-range game:

Jarvis has unquestionably been our MVP to this point in the season. He has evolved into a junior in our program. First and foremost, having been in the program for three years, physically he's stronger he has ever been, which enables him to make the plays both physically, and from an experience standpoint, having gone through the battles that he has endured, we're starting to see him play like the all-league player that he's capable of being. Percentage-wise, he's taking better shots. He's stronger, so that he can finish through contact. And he really worked in the offseason at knocking down open looks. When he plays with Marshall, one thing that we missed in our first two SEC games was the spacing that Marshall creates while he's on the floor, not only as our leading scorer at about 19 points per game and shooting close to 40 percent from 3, which are pretty effective numbers, but the spacing that he creates because of his presence and his ability to stretch the defense. Jarvis has done a good job of playing in those gaps.

On Jarvis Summers' role with Marshall Henderson returning to the mix:

We play Jarvis in a number of different spots. When Marshall is not here, he plays predominantly off the ball and Derrick Millinghaus' numbers go up tremendous en lieu of Marshall's absence. With Marshall back, we will continue to play Jarvis off the ball at times when Derrick is in the game, but he will go back more of a lead-guard mentality when he's with Marshall, setting the floor for our team, running our team, and continuing to be aggressive offensively. We have played three games without Marshall, and we have played 12 with Marshall, so he will be able to come back pretty seamlessly and fit right back into what we were doing prior to his absence.

On LSU's Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey:

They are really, really talented, maybe as talented a frontline as there is in our league, with those two combined with Johnny O'Bryant, who's probably the best back-to-basket scorer in our league. It's a tremendous challenge. We have to be very physical and keep our bodies on them. We can't come into this game thinking that we're just going to out-jump them or out-reach them. They're all long and athletic. We have to be very physical at the point of attack. We call it first blood. We have to try to get to the ball first because of their tremendous athleticism, and they are very versatile. When you play those three guys together, with Martin playing the three, it's a long, athletic frontline, so we know they're going to pose a number of difference challenges for us.

On missing out on Cleveland, Miss., native Johnny O'Bryant in recruiting:

We spent a lot of time and energy recruiting Johnny. He's just up the road from us. We knew he was going to be a tremendous talent, and nothing that he has done at LSU has been surprising to me. He was going to come in and have a chance to make an immediate impact, which he did as a freshman. As he evolved into his sophomore season, he was an all-league-caliber player as we anticipated, and now he's one of the best frontcourt guys in all of college basketball. I'm proud to see him develop. He's a good kid from a good family. I certainly wish he was wearing the red, white and blue on Wednesday.

On balancing shots in the backcourt between Derrick Millinghaus, Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson:

You take what the game gives you. Sometimes we want to try to predetermine who's going to do what when and where. Basketball doesn't work like that. You have to put yourself into position, you always have to be ready, and you have to take the game gives you. Derrick, for instance, makes three of his first four field goals in Starkville on Saturday and was in a very good rhythm, and as a result, we took an early lead. Those same shots appeared late in the game, and we weren't able to knock them down, and that ultimately is the difference between winning and losing. He finishes the game 5-for-17 from the floor after starting 3-for-4. He wasn't as efficient at the end as we would have hoped.

On the impact of Marshall Henderson:

I challenge the guys every day that the fire needs to burn internally. If they're waiting for me to motivate them every day, then we are all missing the boat. The advantage with Marshall returning on Wednesday is first and foremost his ability to put the ball in the basket. Secondly, it's his ability to be the focal point of LSU's scouting report. I guarantee there will be a lot of Marshall Henderson conversation, and when you don't have him, then the focus shifts to others. Sometimes guys are second or third options for a reason. There are a lot of people who want to be Batman, but they need to be Robin, and we need to get Batman back, so then we can play off the spacing that Marshall creates, and he will be back with us on Wednesday, and I'm sure he will be excited to start SEC play his senior year.

LSU head coach Johnny Jones

Opening statement:

We're looking forward to great challenges this week, one there at Ole Miss, and we're excited about having the opportunity to be back at home against a team that's playing very well in Vanderbilt on Saturday. Obviously, with Henderson returning, it presents a great challenge for us, the great player that he is, and we look forward to that challenge there at Ole Miss Wednesday night.

On preparing for Ole Miss without seeing Marshall Henderson the last two games:

It's tough preparation because it's hard to simulate what he's capable of doing out there on the floor. He's really quick at catching-and-shooting and rising up and making difficult shots and making plays. You have to go back and probably know that he's going to be screened for, and you have to prepare for getting off screens and try to make sure that you're there on the catch with him. It's one of those games that you know you're going to be in a battle all night long, and you're hopeful -- knowing that he's going to score -- that you can contest and contain him most of the night.

On Johnny O'Bryant and his maturation:

Johnny has made some really positive strides for us. He really finished the year strong last year for us. He had a tremendous summer. Johnny is a part of everyone's scouting report now, and a lot times for the teams that we're playing, their defense has been designed to try and take Johnny away for us, and when that has happened, he has made the right decisions, in terms of making extra passes and plays. When he has had the ability to be in one-on-one situations there in the post, he's played well and shot a high percentage for us. It's just a matter of getting that balance for him. He's been terrific for us.

On added motivation for Johnny O'Bryant going home and playing against Ole Miss:

It's a normal reaction for most young men because you have an opportunity to have family and friends, most of the time, there in attendance. You're playing one of the state schools where you have grown up and you want to make sure that you have a great showing there. It's no different, I'm sure, from a lot of pro athletes who feel that same way. You have some added weight, but we try to make sure that they concentrate and focus, in terms of playing in between those lines once we throw that ball up. It's not where you're playing but how you're executing and the impact that you're able to make for your team.

On the Ole Miss frontcourt and its development:

They are really good and able to play off of those guards. Their guards are extremely quick and play really well. Their post guys have an opportunity to benefit because of the help that you have to try to give to the other perimeter guys; you allow those guys to get free, and they have done an excellent job of getting to the offensive glass and making plays around the rim.

On moving Jarell Martin to the bench this past weekend at South Carolina and the flexibility that gives the LSU frontcourt: 

The beauty of our basketball team, and it's early on in conference play, is the versatility of our team. We have about eight or nine guys who we have been playing consistent minutes, and we have to make sure -- whether it's scouting report-oriented or the opponent that we are playing -- that we have the best group out there that we feel like can get us off to the best start in those games. Jarrell has the ability to play inside and out, which is certainly a great benefit for us. We have the ability to move him around.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin

Opening statement:

It's another great week in the SEC. We go to Texas A&M midweek, and then we host Ole Miss. At Texas A&M, Billy Kennedy is continuing to build that program and they are off to a great start with two great wins out of the shoot. And Ole Miss is a defending NCAA Tournament team and conference tournament winner. They will have Marshall Henderson back after not having him for the first couple of games.

On optimism after Saturday's 71-68 loss to LSU:

We played a really good LSU team. Look at what that team has accomplished up to this point. They lost at UMass, a top-20 team in the country, at the buzzer. They lost to Memphis, a top-20 team in the country, in an absolute dogfight. They got beat at home by Tennessee, which a top-20 team in the country, and unfortunately they lost a tough game to Rhode Island, which it happens to everybody. We went nose to nose with a really good basketball team. We just didn't do enough to win, but that should not take away from some of the really good things we did to give ourselves a chance to win.

On dealing with Marshall Henderson as an X Factor:

As the opposing coach, he's an unbelievable player. He averages 19 points per game. If you're half a step late, or half a second late, it's a 3 and a basket. He's an unbelievable competitor. I don't think anyone gives him the credit that he deserves for the competitor he is. He elevates the players around him because of his competitiveness. I have a lot of respect for what Marshall Henderson does as a player.

The 2013 college football season came to a close last Monday, as Florida State defeated Auburn, 34-31, in the Vizio BCS National Championship game. Ole Miss finished the 2013 season with an 8-5 record, capped by a 25-17 win over Georgia Tech in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Ole Miss and head coach Hugh Freeze open the 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Boise State and first-year head coach Bryan Harsin at Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Aug. 28. Other key upcoming dates between now and the season opener include National Signing Day on Feb. 5 and the Grove Bowl on April 5. Here are a few way-to-early top 25's and where the Rebels are ranked:

Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs), Bleacher Report: 17th

If Ole Miss can patch up its offensive line, it could be scary. That's an enormous if, with more than half of the group moving on, but it doesn't hurt to have gifted left tackle Laremy Tunsil locked in for at least two more seasons. Yes, the unbelievable crop of youth will be a year older, and the defense won't lose much. Offensively, Donte Moncrief will have to be replaced at wideout, but Laquon Treadwell is poised to pick up the slack, and then some. Can Bo Wallace be more "Good Bo" than "Bad Bo" next season? If yes, then this could be the year Ole Miss surges.

Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID), Fox Sports: 17th

QB Bo Wallace returns for his senior season to lead an offense that should be very explosive. But it's the defense that might well have Rebel fans on their feet screaming, "Hotty Toddy." With a forgiving schedule -- Vanderbilt and Tennessee as the SEC East opponents, and Alabama and Auburn both coming to Oxford -- could this be the year the Rebels finally contend for the SEC West?

Martin Rickman (@martinrickman), Sports Illustrated: 19th

All those blue-chip recruits from National Signing Day 2013 are a year older, a year wiser and a year stronger. Early playing time was invaluable to those guys, and even in a tough season, Ole Miss impressed with wins over LSU and Texas. The schedule doesn't get any easier in '14, but the Rebels should be ready.

Why this ranking could be flawed: Dr. Bo could be mistaken for a real doctor and asked to help assist a birth in a limo, like that one The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode. Rattled after another Egg Bowl loss, coach Hugh Freeze could start to see eggs everywhere, a phobia that hampers his game-planning ability.

Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach), ESPN.com: 20th

After going 8-5 this past season, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze can look forward to talented freshmen such as defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, safety Tony Conner and receiver Laquon Treadwell being older and wiser in 2014. Unfortunately, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M aren't leaving the SEC West anytime soon. Ole Miss will have to replace three starting offensive linemen as well as junior receiver Donte Moncrief, who announced he's turning pro. Quarterback Bo Wallace is coming back for his senior season, after throwing for 3,346 yards with 18 touchdowns this past season. The Rebels might lose only two defensive starters: end Cameron Whigham and linebacker Mike Marry. Ole Miss opens the season against Boise State in Atlanta and they'll play Alabama and Auburn at home. The Rebels will play difficult SEC road games at Texas A&M and LSU.

Jerry Hinnen (@JerryHinnen), CBSSports.com: 24th

The Rebels didn't quite live up to their billing in 2013, but if Hugh Freeze can coax some further improvement from Bo Wallace, a defense that returns up to 10 starters and is absolutely loaded with developing stars -- end Robert Nkemdiche and safety Tony Conner among them -- could lead Ole Miss back into the SEC west's top half.

With just over a minute left in the game, junior guard Jarvis Summers tied the game at 72-72 with a 3-pointer. Mississippi State made one of two free throws on the other end to take a 73-72 lead. 

On each of the next two possessions, the Rebels (10-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) ran possessions to Summers and came away with no points, as the Bulldogs (11-4, 1-1 SEC) held on for a 76-72 win Saturday night in Starkville.

"Some things have become pretty apparent about the Ole Miss Rebels through 15 games," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "There's a pattern that's been formed. We're not going to blow many people out, and we haven't been blown out. Our guys scrap and fight, and it's not always the most pleasing to watch from any vantage point, but we stay in games. 

"And then it comes down to the stretch, and you have to make plays, and the games in which we have made the plays, i.e. two days ago on Thursday night (vs. Auburn), we win. The games in which we don't make the plays, and Mississippi State does, then they win."

Summers finished with a game-high 23 points, his sixth 20-point game of the season, on 7-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.

On the first of those two possessions, he was whistled for traveling on a questionable call. On the second possession, after Mississippi State made two free throws on the other end, Summers drove to the basket, and there was a collision at the ball, but no foul was called.

"Jarvis has been our steadiest player," Kennedy said. "We have said that a lot. At the end, we ran both possessions to him in a one-possession game." 

Junior guard LaDarius White (16 points) and sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus (15 points) joined Summers in double figures for the Rebels. They each knocked down three 3-pointers, as did Summers, and Ole Miss was 10-of-29 from 3-point range for the game.

It was the second straight game in double figures for White and Millinghaus, and it marked a season high for White. 

"Snoop had maybe his best four or five-minute period where he was making shots and being aggressive, and we certainly need production out of him," Kennedy said.

Four underclassmen -- sophomores Anthony Perez and Martavious Newby and freshmen Sebastian Saiz and Martavious Newby -- played double-digit minutes off the bench, and it marked a season-high for minutes played for Perez with 21 minutes. Kennedy credited the Rebels' rebounding edge (47-37) in part to their aggressiveness and energy.

"The advantage to having a veteran team is the kids plays like they have experience," Kennedy said. "It does you no good if you're a veteran and you play as if it's the first time you have been in a college basketball game, and then you're going to opt to play a younger kid to give him the same opportunity that you have given the veteran.

"We may have to turn the page to some of our younger guys and give them the same opportunity as we're giving some of our older guys because we're not playing as experienced as I would hope our upperclassmen would."

Tomorrow will be an off day and a much-needed rest after a Thursday-Saturday swing, especially for Millinghaus and Summers, who logged 72 and 68 minutes, respectively, over the last two games.

Leading scorer and senior guard Marshall Henderson will also return to action, as Ole Miss hosts LSU next Wednesday (8 p.m., CSS). The Tigers (10-4, 1-1 SEC) are coming off a 71-68 win at South Carolina, having lost their SEC opener at home to Tennessee 68-50. 

"I'll give them tomorrow off because we're a little battle fatigued playing guys heavy minutes," Kennedy said. "We had a quick turnaround from Thursday to Saturday to start league play. We have a tough LSU team coming into Oxford on Wednesday, so you have put it behind you and try to get ready for the next challenge."

Ole Miss hung its 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament Champions banner from the rafters before the game, and the Rebels (10-4, 1-0 SEC) began their title defense with a 65-62 win over Auburn (8-4, 0-1 SEC) in the league opener Thursday night.

Without leading scorer and senior guard Marshall Henderson, four Rebels scored in double figures, led by sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus with 16 points, followed by junior guard Jarvis Summers with 14.

"We found a way to win," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Ultimately, that's what we were trying to do and were fortunate enough to do. I played guys heavy minutes. 

"Jarvis has been our MVP from day one this season, and he certainly didn't have his best game. He looked a little battle-fatigued. Derrick Millinghaus played 35 minutes. That's a lot. He made some big plays for us."

Ole Miss trailed 21-16 with 8:25 left in the first half when freshman forward Janari Joesaar checked into the game, his first action since the North Carolina A&T game on Nov. 26. 

Joesaar sparked a 9-0 run, hitting a 3-pointer and then scoring on a put-back, as the Rebels took a 31-28 lead into halftime. The Tartu, Estonia, native finished with five points and three rebounds in nine minutes, all career highs.

"It was an opportunity for him," Kennedy said. "With Anthony being down, and we had Snoop pick up two early fouls, so we went deeper into the bench than we have been. 

"They're zoning us, and the one thing Janari can do is make open shots. He gave us great minutes and good energy. I told the team that I thought he was the MVP of the game because when we were stagnant offensively, he gave us a big lift."

Early in the second half, Auburn went on a 10-0 run to take 38-33 lead before junior LaDarius White answered with a 3-pointer, his first points of the game. He then hit his second 3-pointer to tie the game at 41-41 with 10:39 left. He finished with 10 points, his first game scoring in double figures since the Louisiana-Monroe game on Dec. 18.

"Snoop stepped up," Kennedy said. "He missed a couple of big free throws. It would have been easy for him to drop his head, and then he stepped up and hit a huge three. He had a couple of really strong drives to the basket and was able to make some plays."

Down the stretch, junior forward Aaron Jones played big for the Rebels. He hit a jumper and then threw down a dunk to extend the lead to 62-57 with 1:46 left. He also grabbed a defensive rebound after a missed Auburn three-pointer when the Tigers were within three at 62-59. He filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds, five steals and five blocks.

Auburn had the ball down 65-62 with 16 seconds left, but the Tigers missed a three-pointer and were unable to corral the offensive rebound.

"The only guy on this year's team who had the same role as last year's team is Marshall Henderson, and he was not dressed out tonight," Kennedy said. "Everybody else has an expanded role, and with that comes more responsibility. You can't look around and think somebody is going to bail you out. Now, you're the guy, and you have to accept that responsibility, but that is a process"

Ole Miss continues SEC play on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday (3 p.m., ESPNU). The Bulldogs (10-4, 0-1 SEC) are coming off an 85-63 loss at No. 14 Kentucky in the SEC opener, having led 40-37 at halftime.

"They have the same cast as last year," Kennedy said. "Those guys have gotten older in Craig Sword, Fred Thomas, Gavin Ware, and Colin Borchert is a senior, so I know they have a number of different weapons. That place has never been very friendly to the Rebels."

Ole Miss finishes nonconference play with a 9-4 record, as Dayton hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knock off Ole Miss 83-80 in overtime Saturday. The nonconference included three home losses to Oregon, Mercer and Dayton, as well as a road loss to Kansas State. Two were in overtime, and the other two were one-possession games.

"A tried and true formula is you have to protect your home floor, if you're going to have any aspirations of doing anything meaningful at the end of the season, and we haven't done a good job of that," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have lost two overtimes games and another on a last-second shot. We have been in every game, but our inability to make the play has cost us.

"We have also been in situations where it's helped us. Our non-league schedule has been competitive, and it will pay us dividends down the road. And so, every game is going to a be possession here or a possession there, and unfortunately tonight, we did not make the play."

Ole Miss had one of those such possessions at the end of regulation. Junior guard Jarvis Summers, who finished with a career-high 29 points, had the ball in his hands, but he was tied up driving to the basket, and the jump ball gave Dayton the ball. 

It was Summers' fourth 20-point game in five games, his fifth 20-point game overall this season, as he shot 9-of-15 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Senior guard Marshall Henderson was second on the team with 15 points, all in the second half.

"Jarvis is our best player," Kennedy said. "He's not our most-hyped player, but he is our best player, and he has been all season. Marshall does what Marshall does, and he has the ability to knock down shots. Dayton's mindset, I think, was not to allow Marshall Henderson to beat them, and so when they do that, it takes other players out of the action. 

"We have to be able to take advantage of that, and that's where we're falling short. We got to have other guys step up and make plays because he draws so much attention off that screening action. Jarvis was the one guy who made plays, but to beat Dayton, you better have more than one of those. You got to have more players who step up and make plays. There were opportunities there tonight, and we didn't get it done."

In overtime, the Rebels took an 80-76 lead with 1:11 left after a dunk by junior forward Aaron Jones off a missed three-pointer by sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus. Two scores in two possessions for Dayton, and two turnovers in two possessions for Ole Miss, gave the Flyers the ball tied 80-80 with five seconds left.

"The thing that is disheartening is that the last two possessions, we don't get a shot," Kennedy said.

The Rebels entered Saturday with an RPI of No. 66 according to ESPN.com, and with the loss to Dayton, they are now 1-4 against the RPI Top 100. Ole Miss has a top-100 RPI win over Penn State, with top-100 RPI losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Mercer and Dayton. 

Ole Miss opens Southeastern Conference play at home against Auburn Thursday, followed by a road game at Mississippi State Saturday. The Rebels will be without Henderson for both games.

"As quickly as possible, we have to put this behind us and get our focus on the first week of conference play," Kennedy said. "We have a Thursday-Saturday swing with travel in between, and without Marshall, so we'll have to get back in the gym tomorrow and evaluate the things that we did poorly. We did some good things as well, and we had our opportunities, but again, our inability to make the play cost us. We have to shore up some areas that we're deficient, namely rebounding and defense."

Guthrie Back At It

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Former Rebel All-American Abby Guthrie didn't waste any time making headlines in her first tournament of the 2014 professional tennis season, and she did so in her hometown of Auckland, New Zealand.

Guthrie_Jones.jpgGuthrie and fellow Kiwi, Sacha Jones, received a wildcard into the main draw of doubles at the WTA ASB Classic this week, and the pair gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about in their first match.  Guthrie and Jones closed out the opening day of the ASB Classic by toppling the No. 2 seeds and veteran duo, Cara Black and Marina Erakovic.  Black came into the tournament ranked No. 13 in the world in doubles, while Erakovic entered ranked No. 28.  Here is a recap of the exciting match in which the Kiwi duo came back to win 3-6, 6-4, 13-11.

Unfortunately, Guthrie and Jones weren't able to continue their run, falling in the quarterfinals, but still not a bad way to begin the New Year for Guthrie.

She plans to reunite with her college teammate and doubles partner last year, Kristi Boxx, later this year.  The tandem paired together to win two titles in 2013.





Subscribe and Share

Tags

Recent Comments