Hard-nosed Rebels earn spot in NCAA Tournament

By Austin Bishop
Webster Progress-Times

Andy Kennedy is resilient.
No matter what criticism may come his way, the seventh-year head
coach of the Ole Miss men’s basketball team just keeps focusing on
his players and getting the most out of them.

That determination paid off for both Kennedy and the Ole Miss Rebels
on Sunday as they took a huge come-from-behind 66-63 win over Florida
to win the SEC Tournament Championship on Saturday, earning an
elusive spot in the NCAA Tournament.

It was Ole Miss’ first SEC Tournament win since 1981 and the Rebels
first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2002. The Rebels are 151-86
under Kennedy, who has led Ole Miss to six postseason trips
(including five to the NIT). The Rebels reached the NIT Final Four in
both 2008 and 2010. He is also winningest coach in Ole Miss men’s
basketball history, with six of his seven teams winning at least 20
games.

Kennedy has shrugged off a lot of the criticism he has faced at times
and kept his attention on his team and the task at hand.

“I really try to do the best that I can for my employer, the
University of Mississippi, and the kids on my team,” Kennedy told
reporters following his team’s win over Florida. “I’m just really
happy for them, because I see the work every day that they do in
order to put themselves in this position.”

The 26-8 Rebels can tie the single-season school record of 27 wins
with a victory over Wisconsin in Kansas City, Mo. at 11:40 a.m. on
Friday. A win there would set the Rebels up to take on either No. 4
seed Kansas State or the winner of the play-in game between LaSalle
and Boise State.