December 10, 2007

Kennedy's team moving towards goals

Expectations are high, excitement is gathering and the wins are piling up.

The Ole Miss men's basketball team's on a path right now, taking steps towards being the team head coach Andy Kennedy wants them to be.

And in the Rebels' 76-67 win at Central Florida Saturday, one thing became abundantly clear - Ole Miss isn't there quite yet.

Turnovers, poor shot selection, a stagnant half-court offense and general inconsistency plagued the Rebels in Orlando

And yet Ole Miss still won - pretty comfortably.

Freshman guard Chris Warren returned to his hometown and lit it up early, hitting his first four three-point shots. Then, he missed his next six.

Warren made a key steal late in the game, drove the length of the court, made the basket, drew a foul, but missed the free throw. He turned the ball over nine times and had zero assists.

And yet Ole Miss still won - pretty comfortably.

The Rebels got beat backdoor on the same lob play three or four times. They missed free throws. They let a team get back into a game, when UCF could've been put away early.

The Rebels failed to get the ball to Dwayne Curtis in the post enough. David Huertas struggled again, and the Rebels didn't sustain their early success on the glass.

And yet Ole Miss still won - pretty comfortably.

There's a pattern here.

Ole Miss took a big step Saturday by winning on the road. It's something all good teams need to do.

But the Rebels showed they share another characteristic with good teams. Ole Miss won without playing its best. The Rebels beat team without playing flawless basketball.

There will be games where Warren turns the ball over. There'll be games where Ole Miss doesn't get the usual production out of guys like Curtis, Huertas or Eniel Polynice.

But Saturday, Ole Miss proved that these things could happen and the team could still win.

Maybe it's overly critical to hold this team to such high standards. Largely, the team's young and inexperienced.

But at this point, that's not an excuse. This team is in the position to do something not many Rebel teams have been able to do - go to the NCAA Tournament.

While March is a ways off, the Rebels are on a path. And with wins like Saturday's, they're well on their way to their destination.

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