Guard Stefan Moody lighting up SEC scoreboards for Ole Miss
Mississippi's Andy Kennedy is a basketball coach who has lived most of his life in a football-crazy part of the country.
So when the Louisville, Mississippi, native describes how much the Rebels depend on guard Stefan Moody, it's not surprising he'd use a reference from the gridiron.
''He's like our Derrick Henry,'' Kennedy said, referring to Alabama's Heisman Trophy winning running back. ''We've been riding him.''
And just like Henry, the 5-foot-11 Moody who also has dreadlocks shows little sign of fatigue no matter how much of the offensive load Ole Miss asks him to carry.
The senior guard is averaging 24.4 points per game, which ranks fourth in the country and tops in the Southeastern Conference. He's also the team's leader with more than four assists per game.
Ole Miss (12-4, 2-2) hosts Florida (10-6, 2-2) on Saturday. The Gators are led by first-year coach Mike White, who played for the Rebels in the 1990s and was an assistant under Kennedy from 2005 to 2011.
Moody is coming off a career-high 33 points in a 90-81 loss to LSU. He was fantastic in every facet against the Tigers, shooting 10 of 18 from the field, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range. He also hit 7 of 9 free throws and had four assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
Even though he's almost always the shortest guy on the floor, Moody's ample strength and low center of gravity allow him to power past defenders and his superior leaping ability gives him a chance to finish at the rim.
As good as the guard was against the Tigers, the loss illustrated the Rebels' biggest problem.
''We have to get Moody some help,'' Kennedy said.
So far, any help has been mostly inconsistent. Forward Sebastian Saiz has been a solid second option, averaging 12.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. After that, the roster gets a little thin.
Guard Rasheed Brooks - who is in his first year with the program after transferring from junior college - has had a promising start to SEC play, averaging 14 points over the first three games, including 18 against LSU.
''I thought he did some good things for us, especially defensively,'' Kennedy said. ''We are just so thin in some of the other departments. We need contributions from other guys.''
But there's little doubt that the Rebels will only go as far as Moody can carry them.
He spent last season as the team's shooting guard, but moved to point guard this season because the team didn't have any better options. Now Moody isn't just the lead scorer, he's also the team's most important distributor.
Kennedy said that was a difficult transition at first because Moody expected to handle usual point guard duties like setting up the offense and calling plays. But the coach says Moody is so athletic, he can skip all of those steps.
''I told him I want you to get out there and use your God-given gift of strength and speed and go,'' Kennedy said. ''... We have to play faster I think. We don't have a lot of girth up front.''
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