Local Athletics

Published on January 8th, 2016 | by Alex Thiel

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Kennedy’s Rebels Ring In Pavilion Era with an SEC Win and a few Celebrities

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Story by Alex Thiel – Photographs by Newt Rayburn 

University, Miss (TLV) – The Pavilion at Ole Miss looked like a million bucks on its opening night – $96.5 million, rather – as a sellout crowd of 9,500 witnessed the Rebels defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 74-66 in the venue’s debut.

Ole Miss celebrities such as Marshall Henderson and Shepard Smith were on hand – along with a program-record crowd of 9,500 – to witness a second-half comeback by the Rebs, led by a monster game from junior big man Sebastian Saiz (21 points, 16 rebounds in 38 minutes).

The Crimson Tide looked to play spoiler on the road in its SEC debut, but it was not to be.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Coached by ex-Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, the Tide led for much of the first half. However, when their shooting went cold late, the home crowd took over and ensured that The Pavilion’s first night would be a happy one.

Ole Miss built a 25-15 lead early, but Johnson’s club got it together late in the first half and went on a 25-7 run of their own. Stefan Moody was a paltry 25% from the floor in the first half, tallying 7 points. However, junior big man Sebastian Saiz contributed 9 points and 8 rebounds, while Tomasz Gielo paced all Rebels with 10 points in the first half.

As has been the case with Ole Miss basketball for the past few years, however, the team finally put it all together in the second half.

Head coach Andy Kennedy was highly complimentary of the energy from the fans in the new arena.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Andy Kennedy at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

“I honestly felt more pressure tonight than I did during the SEC championship,” he noted. “This has never happened at Ole Miss… [I] actually saw students running to the game, instead of away from the game!”

The player of the game was undoubtedly Sebastian Saiz, who took advantage of Alabama’s commitment to guarding Moody down the stretch. Moody driving the lane, drawing the defense and dishing to Sebas was a familiar sight in the second half, and it worked far more effectively than it has at times in the past.

Former Dallas Mavericks and current Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Avery Johnson at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Former Dallas Mavericks and current Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Avery Johnson at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

“I thought it was his best game as a Rebel,” said Andy Kennedy. “Tonight, based on the circumstances… [h]e really stepped up and made hard plays.”

At the end of the night, before heading into the locker room, Andy Kennedy grabbed a microphone and addressed the fans from the floor, thanking them for their part in making it a “historic night” for the program. He asked that fans continue to “bring the energy,” promising that his team would do the same. 

“See you Saturday,” he finished. The Local Voice Ligature

Stefan Moody at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Stefan Moody at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

 

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Ron Shapiro and Judge Andrew Howorth at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

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Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Oxford Attorney and former Ole Miss Basketballer Ken Coughlan at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

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Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

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Oxford Attorney Dee Hobbs and former Ole Miss Tackle Todd Wade at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Oxford Attorney Dee Hobbs and former Ole Miss Tackle Todd Wade at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Oxford Attorney Dee Hobbs and former Ole Miss Tackle Todd Wade at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Oxford Attorney Dee Hobbs and former Ole Miss Tackle Todd Wade at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

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Ole Miss Basketball Head Coach Andy Kennedy at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Ole Miss Basketball Head Coach Andy Kennedy at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Hugh Freeze at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Hugh Freeze at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

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Dr. Robert Cooper at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn - © January 7, 2016 - The Local Voice.

Dr. Robert Cooper at the grand opening of the Pavilion At Ole Miss. Photograph by Newt Rayburn – © January 7, 2016 – The Local Voice.

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About the Author

Alex Thiel is a writer and Sports Editor for The Local Voice. A 2014 graduate of Ole Miss, Alex spends his days in Oxford as a freelance audio/video artist, yelling into microphones as a member of Carlos Danger, performing comedy noncommittally, digging around the University’s film archives for Ole Miss Sports Productions, and occasionally serving you beverages in exchange for your money.



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