February 13, 2008

Rebels try to get it done at Alabama

The Ole Miss men's basketball team is willing to try anything at this point.

Eight games deep into their SEC season, the Rebels are still looking for a road win.

Head coach Andy Kennedy switched up the travel schedule last Saturday when the Rebels went to Arkansas. Flying in the day of the game, Ole Miss looked like a team that left its energy on the plane - falling behind 16-2 before losing 75-69.

Now, with the Rebels headed to Tuscaloosa's Coleman Coliseum to face Alabama Wednesday at 7 p.m., senior Dwayne Curtis is ready to try something new.

"I'm going to try and get some music going or something to get us going," Curtis said. "We're going on the road; I'm bringing a boombox this time. We got to make a change."

But at Alabama (13-11, 2-7 SEC), Ole Miss (17-5, 3-5) will have to defend some explosive scorers.

Curtis should have his hands full inside with Alabama star Richard Hendrix - the only player in the SEC who's averaging a double-double (19 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game).

He won't be the only one dealing with a defensive challenge. Eniel Polynice will have his hands full with either Alonzo Gee (15.8 ppg) or Mykal Riley (13.4 ppg) - both 6-foot-6 guards.

"It's nothing new," Polynice said.

Polynice's used to having to check the other team's top perimeter player, but he isn't used to the feeling inside the Rebel locker room right now.

"Things feel like they're slipping away a little bit," he said. "We were ranked, and now we're not. We were trying to win the West, and now we're third.

"Things are slipping away, but we've got time."

But the clock's ticking, and it's a must that the Rebels get out fast.

"We have to go out there with our minds focused that we can win and not let anything distract us," Polynice said. "We haven't been coming out with any energy. We need to have the mindset that we have to take things."

And the Rebels will have help with senior Jermey Parnell back in the mix. Parnell missed significant time with a high ankle sprain, and Terrence Watson said the team needs him right now,

"We've got our energy guy back, JP," Watson said. "Hopefully, he can help us find more energy and get us hyped up. He's one of our leaders; we follow those guys."

And if the Rebels are hyped up, they should be playing well. And Polynice said if they're playing well, they'll be smiling - something that's vanished as the Rebels have struggled.

"We're not really enjoying the (highs) right now," he said. "With the game of basketball, you've got to be having fun. If you're not having fun and just playing, it'll hurt the team.

"At the begging of the year, we were winning games and having fun. Now, it's like we're just playing and not having fun."

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