But what he saw Friday afternoon has made him excited for what may lay ahead.
"I learned I liked our team's fight," Kennedy said after Mississippi topped Georgia Tech, 77-67, in the first day of the Barclays Center Classic.
"I thought we exuded toughness early. We (wanted) to be aggressive. We attacked the game."
Derrick Millinghaus had 16 points to lead the Running Rebels. Marshall Henderson and Demarco Cox each added 15 for Mississippi, which improved to 5-0 this season. Cox also grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Rebels will play the winner of the Penn State and St. John's game in the tourney's championship game Saturday afternoon.
"These games you challenge yourself against big, fast, strong guys from higher level programs," Kennedy said. "Our objective was, when we leave Brooklyn on Sunday we want to have a much better feel as to who we are going forward."
Georgia Tech will play in the early season tournament's consolation game tomorrow. The Yellow Jackets fell to 5-2.
Solomon Poole led Georgia Tech with 24 points. Robert Carter Jr. had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Trae Golden and Marcus Georges-Hunt chipped in with 10 points apiece.
"We have to figure out as a team how we're going to be successful," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "We were a very good defensive team last year. We have a lot of those pieces back and we're not (a good defensive team) right now. We're not.
"We're not quite as good as we think we are."
Ole Miss took control with an 18-7 run spanning 6:08 in the first half. Henderson started the run with consecutive three pointers, and later he added a third made three.
Henderson shot 5-of-16 from the field, including 4-for-14 from three, in 27 minutes. One of the stars of the 2013 NCAA Tournament,
Henderson has become a reserve in the early part of this season.
"For the future he will (come off the bench. Saturday), he will," Kennedy said of Henderson, who was suspended by the program in July. Henderson had been stopped by police in Oxford, Miss. in May for possession of marijuana and cocaine.
"(He's a) work in progress," Kennedy added.
At the half, the Running Rebels led 35-21 on 40.6 percent shooting from the field, including 46.2 percent from three.
By comparison, Georgia Tech only made 7 of 34 shots from the field in the first half, and were 1 for 10 from 3-point range.
"Their defensive intensity was good," Gregory said of Ole Miss. "We missed a lot of shots from around the basket. Robert Carter, six misses were all quality shots. (Georges-Hunt) misses around the basket were good shots as well. (Kammeon Holsey) was 1 for 4, you have to make some of those shots. When you don't it puts a lot of pressure on your defense.
"Some of our offense led to easy baskets (for them with) blocks or fumbled balls. Plus if we're going to take a shot, we're going to take it like we mean it. Sometimes we make a move and shoot it tentatively. You can't be successful that way."
The Yellow Jackets shooting improved in the second half, as they made 16 of 29 from the field and 6 of 10 from three.
Mississippi's lead grew to as much as 21 points in the second half. The Rebels finished the game shooting 43.5 percent from the field.
Despite the loss, Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 11-9. Friday afternoon's game marked the first time the programs met since Jan. 11, 1964.
GEORGIA 71, APPALACHIAN STATE 53
In Athens, Ga., Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines each scored 14 points and Nemanja Djurisic added 10 points to help Georgia (2-4) snap a four-game losing streak with a victory over Appalachian State (1-5).
After Mann’s free throw made it 53-43 with 8:20 remaining, Georgia held a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
CLEMSON 69, COASTAL CAROLINA 40
In Clemson, S.C., K.J. McDaniels scored 22 points and added seven rebounds as Clemson (6-1) continued its hot start with a win over Coastal Carolina (2-5).
Former Laney standout Rod Hall had six points, five assists and three rebounds for the Tigers, who scored the game’s first 13 points.
Coastal Carolina had beaten Clemson in each of the past two seasons.