If Ole Miss taking No. 1 Kentucky into overtime was supposed to embolden future Southeastern Conference opponents, Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy did not get the message.
"I don't think so from the coaching standpoint," he said of such a premise. "We know who they have, what they have and how good they play defense."
Kennedy, whose team plays Kentucky on Saturday afternoon, allowed that Kentucky needing overtime to subdue Ole Miss on Tuesday might give his players more confidence.
"Hopefully, the players see some 'humanness' to it," Kennedy said.
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Of course, Kentucky had dominated in otherworldly fashion until the Ole Miss game. The Cats had limited opponents to less than 30-percent shooting accuracy (29.7 percent, to be precise) and humiliated such college basketball bluebloods as Kansas (12 points in the second half) and UCLA (seven points in the first half).
While Ole Miss rode an unguardable Stefan Moody (25 points) to the brink of a monumental upset, Kennedy cautioned against the assumption that the Rebels revealed a formula to beat Kentucky.
"As I watched, Ole Miss just threw in a lot of shots," Kennedy said. "A lot of coaches in this league would be, 'No-no-no-no-no,' and it went in.
"We don't play that way. But Ole Miss does."
Texas A&M (9-4) averages 5.3 three-point baskets a game.
Of course, UK Coach John Calipari likes to point out that the notion of playing Kentucky inspires extraordinary performances by opponents. But he pointed an accusatory finger at UK's defense after assessing how Ole Miss made nine of 17 three-point shots. UK had ranked sixth nationally, holding opponents to 26.7-percent shooting accuracy from beyond the arc.
"There were five or six our hands were down," Calipari said. "So we're going to zero in on that."
Calipari stressed that limiting opponents' three-point baskets and free-throw attempts was a key indicator of how well a defense is playing.
"You can't guard a free throw," he said before adding, "If a team is a great three-point shooting team, you've got to make them drive."
After Kentucky beat Ole Miss 89-86, Calipari suggested that Texas A&M was eager for Saturday's game. "They're having parties down there waiting for us," he said.
But Kennedy did not sound bubbly.
Jalen Jones, the Aggies' leading scorer (13.3 ppg) and rebounder (6.0 rpg), sustained a high ankle sprain last weekend against Hartford. He did not play in the 65-44 loss at Alabama on Tuesday. Jones had not practiced through Thursday, which threw doubt into his status for Saturday's game.
"He's been our best and most complete player scoring the ball and just a presence," Kennedy said.
A moment later, he quipped, "We don't have that second-five rotation yet we can run in there."
Without Jones, Texas A&M made only 30.8 percent of its shots at Alabama. That continued a recent shooting slump that has seen the Aggies make only six of 35 three-point shots in the last two games.
Even after the Ole Miss game, Kentucky remains the nation's leader in points allowed (50.6 ppg), field-goal defense (31.1 percent) and blocks (8.1 bpg).
Kennedy stressed the need to be opportunistic in taking advantage of scoring opportunities in transition when available. When not, the Aggies must try to keep Kentucky within reach by slowing the tempo.
"Shorten the game, no question," the A&M coach said.
Jones' injury was merely the latest complication this season for Texas A&M. As a transfer from SMU in December 2013, Jones had to sweat out an appeal to be eligible at the start of the season (He must sit out the first four games next season). Danuel House, the Aggies' other player with a double-digit scoring average, missed the first two games while waiting out an appeal after a transfer from Houston.
Two other players — Tonny Trocha-Morelos and Dylan Johns — missed games as the NCAA hashed out issues relating to proficiency in English (Trocha-Morelos is from Columbia) and amateurism.
"We're not clicking on all cylinders, by any means ... ," Kennedy said. "We're still trying to figure our roster out, which you'd hope wouldn't take as long as it's taken."