Published on February 4th, 2015 | by Taylor Rayburn
Ole Miss Cools Down the Red Hot Aggies 69-59
Entering Oxford, Mississippi Wednesday night, the Texas A&M Aggies were on a six game winning streak. The Aggies had not lost since January 10th, when they went to double overtime against Kentucky.
In the first seventeen minutes of the game in Oxford, Ole Miss went 0-12 from the three point line. The Rebels never lost confidence, however, making their next four three pointers to end the half with a one point lead.
“We were missing point blank looks, in the first half we were 0 for 12 from three,” said Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy. “I thought most of them were clean looks and we just weren’t making them.”
In the second half Ole Miss turned up the intensity on defense with eight steals and three blocks. They also held A&M to a 34.5 field goal percentage after the break as well. Sebastian Saiz was everywhere on defense, registering two blocks, four steals and nine rebounds.
“We are a group that throws the kitchen sink at you defensively,” said Coach Kennedy. “I thought we were really locked in defensively, tremendous defensive effort in the second half.”
Part of shutting down A&M came with the difficult task of guarding Aggie Forward Jalen Jones. Jones is averaging 14.4 points a game and A&M’s two other losses came when Jones was not on the court. Jones went 3-8, with eight points on the night which is his lowest point total in SEC play.
“Just be aggressive with him, make him force shots up,” said Ole Miss Forward M.J. Rhett, who saw a lot of Jones Wednesday night. “Attack, attack attack, just know if you get a body into him he might throw a wild shot up.”
The “biggest” heroes of this night for the Rebels were forwards M.J. Rhett and Sebastian Saiz. While this is a guard led team, Rhett and Saiz combined for 20 points, in a night in which Jarvis Summers and “Snoop” White were struggling. The only guard to have a big night was Stefan Moody, who once again carried the Rebels with 19 points.
“If the guards are shooting bad, we just have to be as active as we can,” said Rhett. “If they miss it we have to go get offensive rebounds and just stay active.”
With March getting closer every day, every SEC team is trying to improve their resume in hopes of making the big dance. Ole Miss got their third top 50 RPI win and improved to a 15-7 record on the year.
“You have got to be able to stack wins at this time of year,” said Coach Kennedy, after the Florida game on January 24th.
The Rebels have done just that, winning four in a row since then.
“These are the games you have to grind through in order to achieve your goal,” said Coach Kennedy after the Texas A&M game.
Ole Miss goes on the road their next two games. They play at Auburn on February 7th and at Florida on February 12th. Auburn is 10-11 on the season, and would look like a bad loss if Ole Miss lost that night. Florida, on the other hand, is a big game. If the Rebels can beat the Gators and win most of their home games they would be almost a lock for the NCAA tournament.