For Mississippi Coach Andy Kennedy, the distinguishing characteristic of Kentucky’s team this season is speed.
“I’ve seen a lot of great Kentucky teams and a lot of great Kentucky players,” said Kennedy, who in his 11th season at Mississippi is the dean of Southeastern Conference coaches. “I don’t know if I’ve seen one as fast as this team.”
UK’s speed, which will be on display at in Thursday’s Southeastern Conference opener in Oxford, Miss., begins with freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox, Kennedy said.
“He just jumps off the screen with his speed in the open floor with the ball,” Kennedy said. “And if you’re fast on tape, that means you’re going to be doubly fast in person.”
To try to lessen the impact of Kentucky’s speed, Mississippi must limit its “live-ball” turnovers, which can fuel UK’s transition offense.
“It’s an issue we’ve had problems with, quite frankly,” Kennedy said on a teleconference Tuesday.
Kennedy cited how the Rebels had one primary ball-handler in past seasons: Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers, Chris Warren.
“This year our team is built differently,” he said. “As a result, we’ve got more guys touching it. And as a result, we’re turning it over more. And that’s something I’m very conscious of, and I’ve tried to remedy …
“We have turned it over too much, and that’s a recipe for disaster on Thursday night.”
Kentucky at Mississippi
8 p.m. Thursday (ESPN2)