Tennessee will get their second look at the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday afternoon in Oxford. The Volunteers smacked the Rebels earlier this month, winning 94-61 in Knoxville. A lot has changed since that day, however. Most notably, a change at head coach for Ole Miss.
Andy Kennedy was told that he would not return as the head coach at Ole Miss next year, but was given the chance to coach out the rest of the season. Just days after that, Kennedy announced that he would step down immediately.
Taking over for Kennedy is Tony Madlock, who led the Rebels to a shocking overtime win over the Missouri Tigers earlier this week. Rick Barnes was asked about a potential bump for Ole Miss with a new face in charge.
“I don’t think there’s any question. I think it speaks volumes about Andy Kennedy. His intentions were to stay, but once he realized the pressure that maybe those guys were still feeling, he said hey this isn’t working the way I would have liked it to,” Barnes said. “He probably made that decision for that to free up the player’s minds and to play with the freedom that he would want to see them play with.”
Barnes said that he didn’t notice anything all that different from watching the tape from Ole Miss’ win over Missouri.
“They’re doing a lot of the same things, but they’ve had a couple days here where they could add something,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to be ready for what they’ve done pretty much all year long, but we’ve also got to be ready for some adjustments.”
“They’ve got guards that can shoot the ball. I think they change defenses well and play hard. They’ve got a foundation that’s been there for quite some time. Mindset it the most important thing around this time of year. After watching what they did against Missouri, I think they’ve got a pretty good mindset right now.”
That new mindset ended a seven game losing streak for Ole Miss on Tuesday. This is a game that Tennessee should absolutely win, but it’s always tough going up against an unknown commodity. That’s kind of what we have here with a new coach leading Ole Miss.
Keep in mind that the Rebels kept it somewhat close in Knoxville for a half of play. Tennessee got hot and buried them in the second half.
I’ll be looking for a little more consistency out of the Tennessee offense, which has struggled now for a couple of weeks. Without Grant Williams, Tennessee drops that game to Florida on Wednesday night. Barnes still needs more consistency out of his guards to make some noise next month. The Vols have three more regular season opportunities to work the kinks out.
You can catch this game at noon eastern on SEC Network.