Rebs say they're more confident after win

Kenny Williams

Ole Miss hopes to keep its winning ways going after finally getting SEC win No. 1 of 2007 against Arkansas last Saturday in Oxford. But the task will be tall.

The Rebels are in Baton Rouge tonight to face the 16th-ranked LSU Tigers, a program coming off a Final Four appearance last season.

But Andy Kennedy and players say they're ready to hit the hardwood again after holding off the Hogs 74-72 at home. Maybe there will be some carryover, according to the first-year UM head coach.

"We hope that's the case," Kennedy said, his first Rebel team now 12-5 overall and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play. "It's hard to tell some days. We'll find out."

Kennedy said there is no doubt a win was what the Rebels needed.

"It was good for our psyche," he said. "For about 33 minutes in that one we played pretty good basketball. Then we made some very poor decisions, so we watched those (on film) and tried to learn from them so the next time we're in that situation we'll be better."

Kennedy said the Rebels need to have the same demeanor and attitude on the road that they displayed at home against the Razorbacks.

"We all talk about why it is that the homecourt is such an advantage in college basketball," he said. "Is it the crowd? Is it the rim? Is it sleeping in your own bed? Just what is it? I think it's because teams come out with more confidence, and that is all about approach. They are more assertive and typically they show more poise at home. We showed all that against Arkansas, especially early. It showed our guys that if we continue with that, then we can have success. Now we have to do that on the road, or at least we'd better."

Kennedy explains why, for those not paying attention.

"Pretty tough week," he said. "At LSU and at Florida (Saturday afternoon). We'd better be ready to play or we could go into those venues and get embarrassed."

Junior forward Kenny Williams said the win over the Razorbacks did a lot for the team's morale.

"We didn't want to be 0-3 going into LSU," he said. "Winning did a lot for our confidence. Now that (the Tigers) have seen that we beat Arkansas, they're going to have to respect us just a little bit. Now we have to go out there and play hard."

Senior center Dwayne Curtis said it's like a breath of fresh air and a relief that the Rebels now have a victory in the SEC as they tip it off tonight in Baton Rouge.

"It feels good knowing we just won a game," he said. "We need to bring the intensity on the road that we had at home. We watched how they played Auburn, so we definitely know there is a chance we can get a win."

LSU beat Auburn 65-63 last Saturday in Baton Rouge. LSU is now 12-4 overall and 1-1 in SEC action.

Kennedy said his team and coaching staff continue to search for ways to win. They look at statistics. They watch film. They figure who should start and who should be in the game and when. They look for something to give them an edge. And yes, of course, all coaching staffs do that.

And, like all staffs, they check stats to see what matchups are best, what players are doing well, which ones are not, and in what areas improvement is needed.

"I'm a stats freak," Kennedy said, "but there's only one stat that I'm concerned about with this team and that's if we've got more in the left column than the right. I don't care about anything else. With this group we've got to find ways to win. Right now that's our only focus."

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