January 17, 2008

Freshman guard pushes Rebels to win

Trevor Gaskins spotted up on the right win -- swish. He stood at the top of the key -- swish. He moved to the baseline -- swish.

All three shots proved to be critical, as No. 15 Ole Miss hung on for an 89-87 win over Florida Wednesday at Tad Smith Coliseum.

And in the win, Gaskins looks to have maybe broken out of a slump that had dropped his production and his minutes.

Before Gaskins' 19 points Wednesday, the Rebels' freshman guard hadn't score in double figures in seven games. Over that stretch, Gaskins shot just 24 percent from the field.

"He was riding the emotions of being a freshman," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "His approach hasn't changed a whole lot. He wasn't making shots, and when freshmen aren't making shots, it tends to affect other parts of their game."

Kennedy told Gaskins that he was going to have to change some things up, and the freshman responded.

"This whole season, I haven't been really going to the hole," Gaskins said. "I fell in love with my jumper. I'm trying to get an inside-outside game. I'm going to get to the hole more; I've got to."

And against Florida, Gaskins did just that. Creating for himself off the dribble, Gaskins had his best game since a 21-point debut against Mississippi Valley State.

The game was even bigger, Kennedy said, because starter David Huertas was facing his former team, and it played a big factor on his performance.

"He was way too emotional. We anticipated that," Kennedy said. "I'm glad Trevor had the game that he did."

And Gaskins seemed to not be phased by the big game he'd just played.

"All I was trying to do was bring energy to the team," he said. "I always have confidence to shoot or make the big shot. Coach just told me to go play, feel comfortable and free.

The end result was a slump-buster of a night. Senior Dwayne Curtis said with Gaskins, there wasn't ever a doubt that he'd break out of it.

"He's a good freshman, and he knocks down big shots," Curtis said. "I know that he's capable of doing it at any time."

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