Ole Miss Men’s basketball fell 75-64 to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Tuesday night and extended their losing streak to six. In a game that was not as close as the final score might suggest, head coach Andy Kennedy was not pleased with his team’s performance.
“This is beneath the standard that is Ole Miss,” Kennedy said. “This is beneath the work that we have put into this program.”
With the season winding down, the narrative surrounding this 2017-18 team has most recently centered around Kennedy and the future. Tuesday was the first game since Kennedy announced his resignation at the conclusion of this season.
The Rebels began the game slowly, falling behind 34-23 in the first half despite very poor play from the Razorbacks. However, the Rebels showed a surprising amount of intensity as they pushed a legitimate Arkansas team to begin the second half. A Devontae Shuler three with under 9 minutes left in the game pulled the Rebels within one at 53-52.
Arkansas would then go on a 18-1 run that pushed the score to 73-52 with 2:45 remaining in the game. Despite the scoreboard, Ole Miss finished the game shooting 29 percent including three late-game three point shots from Breein Tyree and Markel Crawford.
“This [game] was about Ole Miss,” Kennedy said. “Obviously yesterday I tried to take about as big ownership as you can take. I’m the man here. I’m culpable for this. After watching our performance on Saturday, I thought this is as bad as I’ve seen it in my 400 games. Until tonight.”
Deandre Burnett led Ole Miss in scoring with 24 points and went 6-15 when shooting from the field, hit 9-12 free throws and led the team with three assists.
The Rebels have struggled to find chemistry all year and with five games left in the season, time has run out for this Ole Miss squad.
“It’s just taking time for it to mesh all together I think, and it’s hard to say that this late in the season, but we’ve just got to embrace the whole process, face it like young men, and keep pushing forward,” Burnett said.
Both teams began the game shooting poorly. Ole Miss shot 19 percent from the field on its first 16 shots, while Arkansas made 24 percent on its first 17.
“We just don’t play, we don’t play,” Kennedy said. “Not to the standard that it takes to win real games. We haven’t had issues. We have good guys.”
An NCAA tournament bid seems to be out the window for the Rebels as they guaranteed their season would not end with a winning record with the loss Tuesday night, and a NIT tournament bid is beginning to seem far-fetched. All eyes will now be focused on the SEC Tournament which begins in St. Louis, Mo., on March 7 as a final hope for this Ole Miss team to make any noise.
“I want them to compete in those games. If not for me, if not for Ole Miss, for themselves,” Kennedy said.