Ole Miss basketball lost two key bench contributors during its loss to Kentucky.
Now, a very young, inexperienced Ole Miss bench will have to become productive in a hurry for Andy Kennedy's Rebels. The ailing Rebels will now rely upon four freshmen reserves.
Forward Aaron Jones, averaging 16.9 minutes, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 points per game sustained a torn ACL. Guard Nick Williams, averaging an impressive 24.5 minutes, 2.6 rebounds and 9.4 points per game tweaked a foot that had already caused him trouble earlier in the year. Jones is out for the season, while Williams is out indefinitely.
Ole Miss will continue to lean on guard Marshall Henderson (19.3 ppg) and forward Murphy Holloway (14.6 ppg) for the remainder of the season. Kennedy must quickly look to his SEC rookies to become fundamental parts of his game plan the rest of the way.
Freshman Reserves That Must Step Up
Guard Derrick Millinghaus
Already having seen a fair amount of playing time this year, the 5'10'', 170-pound Millinghaus is averaging 14.9 minutes, 5.5 points and 1.8 assists per game heading into a showdown with Florida.
Until guard Nick Williams is able to return from a foot injury, the diminutive Millinghaus will become a player Ole Miss needs to be productive and consistent down the stretch.
Guard Martavious Newby
The 6'3'', 210-pound Newby has been less of a consistent contributor than Millinghaus at the guard position, averaging only 7.6 minutes and 2.3 points per game up to this point.
However, taller (by five inches) and heavier (by 40 pounds) than Millinghaus, Newby has the potential to give the Rebels more physical minutes at the guard position. If the speedy Millinghaus and physical Newby can become consistent and dependable off the bench, starting guards Marshall Henderson, Jarvis Summers and Ladarius White should have ample time for rest.
Millinghaus and Newby will have to combine to produce an additional 24.5 minutes, 2.6 rebounds and 9.4 points per game just to make up for the production lost with Nick Williams out. A little more production definitely wouldn't hurt.
Forward Terry Brutus
Andy Kennedy hopes Terry Brutus will become a substantial part of his rotation. The 6'6'', 240-forward is averaging just 4.3 minutes per game, but has the potential to become a major player off the bench for Kennedy.
He has the height and weight to be a force in the middle, providing quality rest for Rebel starting big men Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner. The Rebels also hope Brutus' size can help wear down opposing teams' big men inside.
Forward Anthony Perez
The 6'9'', 205-pound Venezuelan forward has a near mirror image frame to that of the injured Aaron Jones.
Unfortunately for Ole Miss, similar to Brutus, Perez has seen only limited action compared to reserve guards Millinghaus and Newby. It's crucial Ole Miss keeps Holloway and Buckner out of foul trouble moving forward. For that to happen, Perez will have to provide much more than the 6.8 minutes per game he's seen so far this season.
Brutus and Perez will have to join forces to account for at least another 16.9 minutes, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 points per game to compensate for Aaron Jones' lost production. Bringing in points and rebounds would be helpful, but more than anything Brutus and Perez need to provide physical play in the paint when Holloway and Buckner are resting.
Much will be expected of these freshmen reserves as Ole Miss closes out their final 11 conference games.
After returning from a daunting trip to No. 4 Florida, Kennedy will have 10 SEC games remaining before play begins in the SEC Tournament. Only facing one opponent currently ranked in the top 25 in their final 10 games, the four freshmen reserves should have time to gain some much-needed confidence before beginning postseason play.
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