Ole Miss (13-1 overall, 0-1 SEC) hosts struggling LSU (7-8, 0-1) at 5 p.m. today in Oxford. The game will be televised live on FSN South as well as on XM Radio channels 201 (UM broadcast) and 200 (LSU broadcast).
The 15th-ranked Rebels, who lost at 8th-ranked Tennessee 85-83 Wednesday night in Knoxville, say they are ready to start another winning streak.
“That’s real important since we lost to Tennessee,” said freshman point guard Chris Warren. “We want to get things right against LSU. We know we’ve got to come out and play hard again. We’re looking forward to it. We’ve been talking about it (since Wednesday night).”
Senior center Dwayne Curtis agreed that it’s time to start anew against the Tigers.
“We’re ready to move on,” he said. “We’ve had some time to talk about it and look over some film from the Tennessee game and learn from our mistakes. We’re looking forward to being ready for LSU.”
There’s a chance the Rebels will be without one of their big men. Senior Jermey Parnell is still hampered by a twisted ankle he suffered early in the second half of the Tennessee game. It will be a tipoff decision as to whether he can play.
“We still don’t know if JP can go,” said UM head coach Andy Kennedy. “It will be a gametime decision on him.”
Kennedy said either way it’s a chance to play freshman Malcolm White some more, but how long may be up to White himself.
“He will kinda determine that on how well he plays,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been trying to get him in more.”
Saturday should offer that opportunity with Parnell on the mend. But LSU, which has been decimated by injuries, plays a small lineup.
“They’re playing four guards,” Kennedy said. “It’s ironic that their starting point guard two years ago (6-foot-6 Garrett Temple) when they went to the Final Four is their starting power forward. I would hate to think that Chris Warren would be my starting power forward in two years. Garrett Temple’s a little bigger than that. But they are playing smaller, and we will just have to adjust.”
The 6-9, 225-pound White, who has averaged only two minutes in 11 games this season, says he’s ready if called upon.
“I just have to step up with Jermey down,” said White, who played five minutes in the Tennessee game but 14 minutes in the Rebels’ 102-76 win over Troy and 13 minutes in UM’s 86-50 win against Alabama A&M. “I have to come in and rebound. Jermey can rebound and block shots. I’m just going to fill in for him. I’m getting better.”
White knows several of the LSU players and has faced some of them on the courts of his home state of Louisiana. The Greensburg, La., native, who was recruited by LSU, said this game means a lot to him because of the obvious reasons.
“It’s my rival, so I’m going to come hard,” said White, whose six points and six rebounds against Troy are his college career highs. “I’m looking forward to this game and having a big game.”
Kennedy said White continues to improve.
“He’s starting to understand what we’re trying to do a little bit better. Even more importantly he’s beginning to understand that you can’t take plays off. You have to be focused and aware of what’s going on, even if you are in the game a short time. We showed him (after the Tennessee game) some of the breakdowns we had, loose balls, missed assignments, poor rotations. He was involved in some of that. So I’m hopeful he saw that and learned from it.”
Kennedy said any way you slice it, this game is big.
“It’s our SEC (home) opener. It’s against LSU, and our kids will be excited to play LSU. And the fact that we’re 0-1, this is a very big game. We’ll come out very focused, I assure you.”