OLE MISS

Rebel Comeback Falls Short

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Five takeaways Ole Miss' 84-70 loss to No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday night:

1. Rebel Comeback Falls Short

Kentucky built a 42-25 halftime lead, as the Wildcats shot 58.6 percent (17-of-29) from the field and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range. In the second half, Kentucky led by as many as 22 midway through the second half before Ole Miss made a run to get within six, down 76-70, with 1:49 left after a three-pointer from Anthony Perez.

On the next possession, Julius Randle put Kentucky up 78-70 with a layup late in the shot clock. Ole Miss had three looks to cut back into the lead, but Kentucky grabbed the rebound and put the game away with six straight points from the free throw line for the 84-70 win in Oxford For the game, the Wildcats were 27-of-30 from the free throw line, including 25-of-28 in the second half.

"The way we played in the first half, even with all the turnovers, we wanted to play faster," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "We didn't want to get into a slugfest because they can score in spurts. You need to get easy baskets, and we did. I was really proud of them in the first half. I said at halftime, 'They're going to make a run. You do know that, right? Now, let's see how we respond to it, and let's make our own run. 

"We're making strides. I was really proud of Julius, and we made our free throws. We showed courage down the stretch. They made shots, and they make shots."

2. Kentucky Controls The Paint

Like the second half in their earlier meeting at Rupp Arena, Kentucky won the battle in the paint with a decisive advantage in points in the paint (36-26), second-chance points (11-2) and rebounding (39-23). Julius Randle led the way for Kentucky with 25 points and 13 rebounds. He was also 13-of-14 from the free throw line.

"They turned it over 19 times because we couldn't stop them," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "When we did get them to miss, it was the same thing we saw in Rupp. They go and get it. My guys are saying this and that. We're just not tough enough physically to put our nose in there and battle. As a coach, when you're saying that at the end of February, it's pretty sobering. It's pretty disappointing. My fault."

For Ole Miss, Anthony Perez, who plays some in the frontcourt, finished with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Aaron Jones, Dwight Coleby, Demarco Cox and Sebastian Saiz combined for seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.

"We were taking pretty good looks," Kennedy said. "We just can't get anything at the basket. We're 26 games into this, and it has not changed. Our field goal percentage is around 40 percent in league play. It's sobering."

3. Newby Helps Spark Rally In Return

Martavious Newby returned to action, having missed the previous six games after suffering a hand injury against Mississippi State on Jan. 25. Newby did not score and grabbed just one rebound in nine minutes played, but he gave Ole Miss energy off the bench.

He checked in at the 9:08 mark in the second half when the Rebels trailed 62-40, its largest deficit of the game, and they went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 64-50 with 7:13 left. Ole Miss would later get to within six points before Kentucky closed out the game.

"He gave us great energy," Kennedy said. "He's a guy who was supposed to be out four to five weeks, and he was out about three. He practiced for the first time yesterday. I had zero intention of putting him in the game. I'm just looking for life. I'm just looking for some fight, and he gave us some fight."

4. Summers Bounces Back

After being held to nine points at Alabama and then 11 points at Georgia, Jarvis Summers bounced back with a team-high 22 points, his eighth 20-point game of the season. He was also 9-of-17 from the floor.

"He's just aggressive," Kennedy said. "He cares. He's a competitor. That kid is a warrior. He tweaked his ankle a little bit. It's grind for him because I'm playing him heavy minutes. I had to take him out for that. He's a competitor. You can never question Jarvis Summers in any regard."

5. The Next Opportunity Awaits

Ole Miss turns around and hosts No. 2 Florida, which has won each of their first 12 SEC games and 17 straight games overall since a 65-54 loss at Connecticut on Dec. 2. The Gators look to extend their winning streak to 18 games, as they host Auburn on Wednesday.

Like Kentucky, Florida is another opportunity for Ole Miss to enhance its resume with the Gators rated No. 4 in the Ratings Percentage Index (ESPN.com) entering Tuesday.

"You have to try to move forward as quickly as possible and hope that you learn some lessons tonight," Kennedy said. "That's what you hope. When you see the ball go in the basket early, it will do amazing things to you."

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