Mississippi's Saiz returns from eye injury

Feb 12, 2016 - 8:15 PM Sebastian Saiz's final stats from Mississippi's game against Florida on Tuesday weren't all that impressive: Four points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.

But considering the circumstances - he was barely three weeks removed from eye surgery to repair a partially detached retina - Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy couldn't have been more impressed.

''I thought what Sebastian Saiz did (against Florida) may have been the most remarkable thing I have seen in my coaching career,'' Kennedy said.

Ole Miss lost against Florida 77-72, but the team's hope is that the 6-foot-9 forward's quick return will be the boost the Rebels (15-9, 5-6 Southeastern Conference) need as they try to make a move in the standings during the season's final month.

The Rebels host Arkansas (12-12, 5-6) on Saturday. The Razorbacks are just 1-8 in games away from home this season and are coming off a lopsided 78-46 loss to Mississippi State.

Ole Miss could certainly use Saiz in the lineup - the Rebels had a 3-3 record in his absence. He is scoring 12.3 points and grabbing 9.6 rebounds per game as the team's most productive and experienced post player.

''The worst part was me being on the bench knowing I couldn't help my team win,'' Saiz said. ''There are so many games that we could have won if I was on the court.''

Saiz initially hurt his eye in a game against Memphis in December and missed a few days, but he felt better quickly and doctors cleared him to return.

A few weeks later, he started ''seeing a shadow in the right side of my eye'' and doctors told him his retina was starting to detach. Then came surgery and a few weeks of uncertainty.

Saiz said he felt good against the Gators and didn't get tired despite his first action in three weeks. He feels he just needs some more full-speed game repetitions to get back to his old self.

''Things happen,'' Saiz said. ''You've just got to get back in that rhythm.''

Saiz wore a pair of dark sunglasses against the Gators because the pupil in his right eye is still dilated and bright lights sometimes still affect him. He said he'll wear some sort of protective eyewear for ''the rest of my life.''

He didn't have full range of vision against the Gators, but said he hopes to be back to normal next week.

Marcanvis Hymon, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, had the best stretch of his college career in Saiz's six-game absence, averaging 11 points and eight rebounds.

Saiz said Hymon's experience in SEC games should be a boost to the Rebels.

''I hope we're able to play side-by-side some because it could help our team,'' Saiz said. ''He's athletic, he can rebound good, block shots and press on defense. That's something we don't have without him.''


AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Gainesville, Florida, contributed to this story.


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