Senior forward Reginald Buckner will be available to play for the Rebels Wednesday night when they travel to play at Texas A&M. The 6-foot-9 Memphis native was issued a flagrant foul in the second half of Ole Miss’ road game at No. 21 Missouri this past Saturday and did not finish. But because Buckner was not thought to have been fighting, he will not face a suspension, according to the Southeastern Conference’s office, which was in contact with Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy Monday morning.“He has been cleared. He was ejected for a flagrant two, which is a blow above the shoulders. He was not ejected for fighting so therefore he was just ejected for the remainder of the game and his status is go for Wednesday,” Kennedy said during the weekly Southeastern Conference basketball teleconference.
Having Buckner in the lineup is very good news for the Rebels as the Aggies, coached by Billy Kennedy, are one of the more physical teams in the SEC.
“I’ve got great respect for Billy and the way he runs his program. I think his team is playing extremely hard. They’re a physical team who give you nothing easy and when they manufacture enough points to give themselves a chance, they’ve been very effective,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been very impressed with their home win against Missouri. As I watched the tape intently, as we were leading into our game with Missouri, I thought they did a tremendous job on both sides of the ball.”
A&M ranks third in the SEC in scoring defense (59.4 points allowed per game) and second in defensive rebounds (31.1) per game. The Aggies (14-9 overall, 4-6 SEC) and Rebels (18-5, 7-3) will tip-off Wednesday at 6 p.m. The game can be seen on CSS.
After Wednesday’s game with A&M, the Rebels host Georgia at home Saturday in a game that will broadcast on ESPN2. While Ole Miss lost three of its last four games, the Bulldogs have won their last five SEC games, making them the hottest team in the league.
A key to Georgia’s success has been the consistent scoring of sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is second in the SEC in scoring by Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson with a 17.5 points per game average.
“I think (Pope) is a dynamic guard who can really score. I think he’s getting much better defensively. (Georgia coach) Mark (Fox) has done a good job with him as he has with that team,” Kennedy said. “I just watched them versus Texas A&M. They’re our next two opponents and even though he did not score at his typical rate, I thought he still really impacted the game because of the defensive attention that you have to give towards him.”
Ole Miss is 4-1 at home this year in SEC games and all five of those have been sellouts, a fact Kennedy talked about Monday.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of protecting our home floor save for the Kentucky game where down the stretch, they were just better than us quite frankly,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been pleased that we’ve been somewhat successful. We’re 4-1 in league play at home, 3-2 in league play on the road. Again that puts us in position to continue to try and do the things we need to do to play meaningful basketball in March.” (February 11, 2013)