March 11, 2009
University of Mississippi men''s basketball coach Andy Kennedy knows one big game from Kentucky''s Jodie Meeks could end the Rebels'' season.
That''s why Kennedy plans to do everything he can to keep that from happening.
Ole Miss plays Kentucky at noon Thursday (Fox Sports Net South) in the first game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.
Ole Miss (16-14) beat Kentucky 85-80 at home on Jan. 27. Meeks scored 21 points, but he was 4 of 15 from the field, including 3 of 10 from 3-point range. He made all 10 of his free throws.
"We did a reasonably good job of trying to contain Meeks," Kennedy said. "He is such an explosive scorer and our focus will be there as well as doing the best we can to keep (Patrick Patterson) from dominating the game block to block. The game will present a number of challenges for us."
Patterson and Meeks combined for 45 of Kentucky''s 80 points in the first meeting against Ole Miss.
The strategy against Meeks this time will be to keep him from getting the basketball as much as possible.
Kennedy said Meeks will "make you pay dearly" if he is treated like a normal player.
"I don''t think there is anybody in college basketball who works harder off the ball to get open than Jodie Meeks," Kennedy said. "We have the utmost respect for Kentucky, for Jodie, and we will do the best we can to limit his touches because when he has the ball, you are at his mercy."
Keeping Meeks and Patterson from scoring is a priority, but Kennedy wants his All-SEC second-team backcourt of David Huertas and Terrico White to keep getting their points.
Huertas and White, the SEC Freshman of the Year, scored 21 points each in the first meeting.
"They did a good job of executing and we had a hard time of guarding their perimeter guys," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. "When they did miss, they beat us on the offensive boards pretty bad. We have to do a better job than we did last time."
Huertas (18.2 points per game) is questionable for the rematch with a bruised foot. He didn''t play Wednesday against Arkansas and wasn''t a factor in the second half Saturday against Mississippi State.
Kennedy believes the extra rest will help Huertas, but he still doesn''t know how much he will be able to help against Kentucky (19-12).
"He''ll be day to day as it relates to his ability," Kennedy said.