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Ole Miss men trying to find consistency

 

David Miller

 

Inconsistency has plagued the University of Mississippi''s men''s basketball team for much of the Southeastern Conference season. 

 

Coach Andy Kennedy feels his team has played and prepared with enough focus, but it hasn''t translated into results. 

 

Whether it has been the up-and-down front-court play of Reginald Buckner or the Rebels'' scoring struggles when point guard Chris Warren is contained, Kennedy feels the inconsistency has been more damaging than missing a key element or playing tough opponents. 

 

"When we have an area we feel needs to be addressed, we address it and then something else slips on us," Kennedy said Monday during the SEC teleconference. "We just hit such peaks and valleys, which is a little bit of a surprise when you have two seniors in your backcourt. We''ve just been really high or really low." 

 

The Rebels (17-10, 5-7 SEC) are coming off a loss at Mississippi State after winning four of their previous five games. Ole Miss earned three division wins and a galvanizing victory against No. 11 Kentucky in the stretch and appeared to have addressed its concerns. 

 

But guards Chris Warren and Zach Graham combined to go 8-for-28 from the field and had just one assist in a 71-58 loss to MSU on Saturday. 

 

"Most everyone in this league is capable of making a run on you, so when you''re not scoring and staying close, before you know it games can get out of hand," Kennedy said. 

 

Scoring has been just as big of an issue, if not bigger, for the South Carolina Gamecocks, who will play host the Rebels at 6 tonight. 

 

South Carolina (13-12, 4-8) has lost five straight games. 

 

A win in Columbia would keep the Rebels in the hunt for the second seed in the SEC''s Western division, where they''re a game behind MSU and tied with Arkansas for third. Three of the Rebels'' last four games are against division teams. 

 

With 10 losses, the Rebels can''t afford to lose before the start of the SEC tournament. However, with an RPI rating of 70 according to RealtimeRPI.com, the Rebels could position themselves nicely for consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament by winning out and winning a couple of games in the league tournament. 

 

"I want our guys to focus on the present and understand how quickly the season is coming to and end," Kennedy said. 

 

 

 

Gamecocks fighting through losing skid 

 

For all the positives Darrin Horn can find in his South Carolina men''s basketball team, he thought his players were past worrying about confidence. 

 

South Carolina is coming off a 90-59 loss to No. 22 University of Kentucky on Saturday. The defeat came on the heels of losses to Georgia and Tennessee by an average of five points. 

 

Horn thinks his team laid down once Kentucky built a 51-20 lead in the first half. 

 

"It just seems like we made up our mind it was gonna be another one of those days," Horn said Monday. "The inexperience and youth becomes what it is: An excuse. We''re 25 games in and everybody playing has played for us this year. We just got to grow up a little bit. It doesn''t mean you''re going to win them all, but we didn''t give ourselves a chance to win Saturday." 

 

Horn said the Gamecocks have had a few players underperform this season, especially on offense. 

 

"It''s been hard to get better the last several weeks," Horn said. 

 

Freshman point guard Bruce Ellington''s sore calf forced him to miss practice time, though he hasn''t missed a game. Horn attributes the injury to Ellington''s dramatic dip in production. Ellington is 8-for-43 from the field in the past three games. 

 

"Bruce is not himself," Horn said. "It''s nagging. He doesn''t have any explosiveness that makes him special, especially in transition and off the bounce." 

 

Forward Lakeem Jackson, who is averaging 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, has missed the past two games due to a foot injury. 

 

 

 

Parsons a question mark for UF 

 

University of Florida forward Chandler Parsons'' status for Thursday''s home game against the University of Georgia is uncertain, coach Billy Donovan said Monday. 

 

The 6-foot-10 senior suffered a deep thigh bruise in a one-point win against Tennessee on Feb. 12 and didn''t play Sunday at LSU. 

 

"I''m not optimistic he''ll play," Donovan said. "Last time he did anything physically was Friday, and he didn''t get much done." 

 

Parsons had a stretch of six straight games with 10 or more rebounds. 

 

Though his scoring average is down from 12.4 points per game last season to 10.8, Parsons has registered more assists and leads the team with 3.6. 

 

"He can see over defenses and he can pass," Donovan said. "In a lot of ways, we do initiate offense through him. With his size and vision, he can do that." 

 

No. 13 Florida (21-5, 10-2) has a two-game lead on Vanderbilt in the SEC East, and is tied with Alabama for the overall record. 

 

The Gators'' final four games could prove to be their toughest stretch of the season, especially with Parsons on the mend. 

 

After facing Georgia, which pushed the Gators to double overtime on Jan. 25, Florida plays at Kentucky, at home against Alabama, and on the road against Vanderbilt.

 

 

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