OXFORD, Miss. — With just 2:14 gone, Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy called a timeout, gathered his players around him, balled his fists next to his face and laid into the Rebels for a less-than-lackluster start against Georgia.
They got the message, held the Bulldogs without a point for the next six minutes and picked up a 69-47 win on Saturday that has them thinking about March.
“We took Georgia too lightly,” Terrico White said. “Like in the film room, we were just joking, not paying attention to what they were doing.”
White scored 19 points and David Huertas added 17 for the Rebels (15-11, 6-6 Southeastern Conference), but it was a trio of young frontcourt players who pushed Ole Miss to its second straight victory.
Malcolm White had 11 points, nine rebounds and a career-high five blocks, Murphy Holloway had his third straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Zach Graham got a pitch for the all-SEC defensive team from his coach after the win.
They held Georgia (10-17, 1-11) to just 25 percent shooting from the floor and 14 field goals, blocked seven shots and sent the Bulldogs to their 13th loss in 14 games. Georgia’s point total was the lowest for an Ole Miss opponent in SEC play since 2004.
The only positive development for Georgia on offense came from Terrance Woodbury, who scored 19 points to become the 39th Bulldogs player with 1,000 points in his career. Most of his points came after the game was out of reach, though.
“Our expectation level has been raised,” coach Andy Kennedy said. “We still have room for growth. This team can still get better.”
With four games left, the Rebels think they can still get to 10-6 in the SEC West and maybe earn a bye in the first round of the league tournament.
“I know people didn’t think we’d be 6-6 with the key losses (to injury) we had,” Holloway said. “But now we might be able to do something in March.”
Only if the Rebels play with the kind of intensity they manage after one of Kennedy’s scorching outbursts. Despite their defensive stand early in the half, the Rebels only led 27-21 at halftime and got another grilling from their coach at halftime.
They responded by holding Georgia without a point for the first 3:31 of the second half. Meanwhile, Terrico White and Huertas combined for a 13-0 run that gave Ole Miss a commanding 40-21 lead with 16:44 left.
Malcolm White had three blocks during the first 3 minutes of the second half and Georgia’s post players began to wilt under pressure from the sophomore and Holloway, who routinely outleaped taller players for rebounds. The Rebels held advantages of 38-12 in the paint and 25-12 on second-chance opportunities.
“I put myself to blame for this,” said Pete Herrmann, now 1-6 as Georgia’s interim coach. “We’re just not scoring on the inside like we need to. When we beat Florida we scored the ball on the inside and we are just not doing it.”
The Rebels now turn their attention to their final four regular-season games. They play Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State, and hope to make a move behind division-leading LSU. That’s not something anyone imagined after Ole Miss lost three of its best players, including two starters, to knee injuries.
“We’re not in it yet,” Kennedy said. “But we’ve still got an opportunity to play some meaningful basketball as we get to March.”