OLE MISS

VIDEO: Andy Kennedy Media Opportunity

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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.

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