Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 2, 2005
SEC OPENER: Ole Miss Rebels (9-4) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (12-1)
OLE MISS TIPS OFF SEC PLAY AT ARKANSAS: Ole Miss opens the Southeastern Conference season Wednesday at Arkansas. The Rebels ride a seven-game win streak that includes road wins at Memphis and VCU. Ole Miss is coming off a 64-48 New Year's Eve victory over Southeastern Louisiana. Todd Abernethy and Londrick Nolen each tallied 13 points, and it was Abernethy's three straight second-half threes that put the game away. Nolen, a juco transfer forward, leads Ole Miss in scoring (12.3 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (4.5) rpg) and assists (2.5 apg).
BARNES IN SEVENTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in his seventh season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and recently took the bench for his 200th game as a head coach. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 122-80 record. Barnes' 122 coaching victories in his first 202 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .604 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of six years or more. In 2000-01, Barnes was the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, and guided Ole Miss to a school-record 27 wins and the program's first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 berth. Another winning season and postseason tournament followed in 2001-02 -- both were the sixth straight for the Ole Miss program. Barnes was hired as the Rebel head coach on April 9, 1998. A 1988 graduate of Ole Miss, Barnes served as an assistant under Evans from 1993-98. During his time as an assistant coach, the Rebels compiled a record of 76-63 and won back-to-back Southeastern Conference Western Division titles and received consecutive NCAA Tournament berths in 1997 and 1998. Barnes played at Ole Miss from 1984-88 and was named All-SEC his senior season. He still ranks on the Ole Miss career charts in scoring (18th; 1,201 points), assists (2nd; 456) and steals (7th; 154).
SCOUTING ARKANSAS: With a 12-1 record, Arkansas is off to its best start since the national championship season of 1994 when they began the year 12-1. Arkansas' lone setback is a 72-60 loss to top-ranked Illinois in Little Rock. Like the Rebels, the Razorbacks also finished 2004 with seven straight wins, including a 62-52 triumph at Missouri. Arkansas is leading the SEC in three-point pct. (.438), assists (17.54), steals (10.54), blocked shots (7.08) and field goal pct. defense (.370). Offensively, sophomore guard Ronnie Brewer, a Preseason All-SEC pick, has done the damage, averaging 16.5 points and 2.9 steals, which is best in the conference. Junior point guard Eric Ferguson is scoring 11.2 points and is among the SEC leaders in assists (4.5), assist/ turnover ratio (2.9) and steals (1.8). Freshman 7-foot center Steven Hill tops the SEC and is top 10 in the nation in blocked shots at 2.92. UA head coach Stan Heath is in his third year at the helm and returns nine letterwinners and four starters from last year's 12-16 squad that finished last in the SEC Western Division. Arkansas was tabbed fourth in the West in the preseason, just ahead of Ole Miss.
OLE MISS-ARKANSAS SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 55th meeting between the two schools, with the Razorbacks holding an all-time series lead of 35-19. The series began in 1937. Since Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference in the 1991-92 season, the Rebels lead the series 14-12. Ole Miss has won 11 of the last 13 meetings against the Razorbacks. The teams split their two meetings a year ago. Arkansas snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Rebels with a 86-78 victory in Fayetteville, and the Rebels knocked off the Razorbacks 55-45 in Oxford in the regular-season finale (see page 6). Arkansas holds a 11-6 series lead in games played in Fayetteville, but Ole Miss has won five of the last eight encounters in Bud Walton Arena. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 10-2 versus Arkansas and 4-2 against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
REBELS IN SEC OPENERS: The Rebels have an overall record of 25-46 in Southeastern Conference openers in their previous 71 years of play in the league. Under head coach Rod Barnes, the Rebels are 1-5 in SEC openers, with five of those games on the road. The lone exception was last year's narrow 61-54 loss to Mississippi State in Oxford. In the last 11 years, Ole Miss has a 4-7 record in SEC openers with the victories coming in 1994-95 (Arkansas, 76-71), 1996-97 (at Arkansas, 91-74), 1997-98 (South Carolina, 73-54) and 2000-01 (at Vanderbilt, 81-68).
REBELS IN SEC ROAD OPENERS: The Rebels are beginning SEC play on the road for the sixth time in Rod Barnes' seven years at the helm, and will open the conference schedule at Arkansas for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign. Ole Miss has an all-time record of 8-63 in Southeastern Conference road openers. The Rebels posted victories in three of their last eight SEC road openers. In 1996-97, Ole Miss won its first conference road game with a 91-74 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville, and in 1997-98, the Rebels defeated Alabama 74-63 in Tuscaloosa their SEC road opener. The Rebels dropped conference road openers in 1998-99 (Vanderbilt, 79-64) and 1999-2000 (Arkansas, 71-64), but bounced back with a win in 2000-01 (Vanderbilt, 81-68), its last league road opener victory. Ole Miss lost its SEC road opener at Auburn 80-53 last season. Head coach Rod Barnes is 1-5 in SEC road openers. Last season was the first in Barnes' tenure that the Rebels' SEC opener was not on the road.
GOING STREAKING: After a 2-4 start, the Rebels have reversed their fortunes with a seven-game win streak that includes impressive road victories at Memphis and VCU. The seven-game streak matches the longest since opening the 2000-01 campaign with 11 straight victories. Ole Miss also won seven in a row heading into SEC play in 2001-02.
BEASTS ON THE BOARDS: Ole Miss has owned the boards of late, outrebounding the opposition in five of the last six games. The Rebels overcame shooting woes in Friday's win over Southeastern Louisiana with a dominant 34-20 edge in boards. Ole Miss is 8-0 this season when outrebounding its opponent.
ARKANSAS REBELS: Ole Miss certainly holds a strong connection with the nearby western state of Arkansas. The Rebels have sported 14 Arkansas natives on their roster under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), including current players Bam Doyne (Little Rock), Jermey Parnell (Gosnell) and Brandon Patterson (Altheimer). Other notable Rebels from Arkansas include Jason Smith (Wheatley), Keith Carter (Perryville), Jason Flannigan (Little Rock) and Jason Harrison (Little Rock). In addition, one of Ole Miss' fall signees, 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward Mike Smith, is from Jacksonville, Ark.
AWESOME EDDIE: Tommie Eddie's game-winning trey at VCU -- his first three-point attempt as a Rebel -- may be his most memorable shot, but the senior forward has turned in several outstanding games during the non-conference slate. Eddie has shot a spectacular 62.5 percent this season, and has posted five games of 17 or more points. The Brooklyn native dropped in the Rebels' first 10 points in the 65-53 road win over Memphis and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and a career-high four assists. Eddie enjoyed perhaps his best game as a Rebel in the victory over Tennessee Tech, shooting a flawless 8-for-8 from the field en route to a career-high 24 points. Defensively, the Brooklyn native was also stellar against the Golden Eagles, registering a career-best four steals while helping limit Preseason OVC Player of the Year Willie Jenkins to two points. Eddie followed up the TTU game with another excellent outing at Arkansas State, with 18 points and eight boards. Against UL-Monroe, he was 8-of-11 for 17 points and vs. UT-Martin, he made 9-of-11 for 20. Eddie tops Ole Miss in rebounding at 4.6, and is a close second in scoring at 12.2.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: While the offensive pace has slowed the last two games, the Rod Barnes trademark defense that has powered the Rebels' win streak has remained as effective as ever. The Rebels contained Southeastern Louisiana to 48 points, marking the second time this season and 27th time in Barnes' seven years at the helm that the opposition was held under 50 points. Ole Miss managed the feat six times in 2003-04. The Rebels also forced Southeastern into 22 turnovers. Ole Miss has pressured three opponents into 22 or more turnovers, having forced 26 against Louisiana Monroe and 25 against Tennessee Tech. The Rebels also held Tech's Willie Jenkins, a CollegeInsider.com Preseason All-American, to two points. Ole Miss handcuffed VCU to 36.7 percent from the field, marking the third time this season an opponent has been held in the 30s. Over the seven-game win streak, Ole Miss has limited the opposition to 40.1 percent shooting.
HAVEN'T WE MET BEFORE?: Wednesday's game between Arkansas and Ole Miss is the fifth time Rod Barnes and Stan Heath will face each other as head coaches, but before these contests, the two were on opposing benches once before. Back in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, Barnes, then the Rebels' 1st-year head coach, guided Ole Miss to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament where it played Michigan State. Heath was an assistant on that Spartan coaching staff. Michigan State won a hard-fought 74-66 game, and went on to advance to the Final Four.
RAINING TREYS: The Rebels are among the top four in the SEC in three-point shooting, firing at a 41.7 percent clip. Ole Miss nailed 12-of-19 threes (.632 percent) against Nicholls State, 13-of-24 threes (.542 percent) vs. Tennessee Tech, and 11-of-23 (.478 percent) at Arkansas State. Senior Kendrick Fox is 21-of-44 (.477) from behind the arc, while freshman Brandon Patterson has made 19-of-44 (.432). Londrick Nolen is 19-of-49 (.388), Todd Abernethy is 15-of-39 (.385) and Justin Johnson is 13-of-39 (.333). Newcomers Nolen and Patterson have each made good on five treys in a game, which ties the ninth-highest total in school history. Nolen pulled off the feat at ASU, while Patterson caught fire against Tennessee Tech. Fox was 4-for-4 in threes vs. Nicholls State, and Nolen was 4-of-5 against Louisiana-Monroe.
CAPTAIN CAVADAS: Senior point guard Cavadas Nunnery has been a catalyst in the Rebels' current six-game win streak. The seven wins are also the first seven starts of Nunnery's career. In the win over Memphis, the Magnolia, Miss., native earned his first career start and responded with a career-high 10 points and 5 rebounds along with 5 assists. Nunnery was 3-for-4 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. He also did an outstanding defensive job on Tiger star guard Darius Washington, forcing the former prep All-American into 8 turnovers. Nunnery recorded a game-high 6 assists with only one turnover vs. Nicholls State, and totaled 5 points, 5 assists and 3 steals against Southeastern Louisiana.
STRONG NON-CONFERENCE SLATE: Ole Miss came out of the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 9-4 mark, having won the final seven games. The Rebels' non-SEC slate boasted some impressive victories with five wins over defending conference champions, including C-USA champ Memphis and Colonial Athletic Association champion VCU -- both on the road. Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an 112-38 record (.747 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Non-conference foes have found Ole Miss especially tough under head coach Rod Barnes (1998-99 through 2004-05), as the Rebels have an impressive 77-21 mark (.786 winning percentage) against out-of-conference teams. Ole Miss has been dominant against non-SEC clubs at home. The Dec. 4 loss to Florida State was only the Rebels' fourth non-conference home loss since 1995.
MR. DO-IT-ALL: Some people think they can do everything, and newcomer Londrick Nolen is proving he can. The junior forward from Southwest Tennessee Community College is the only player to start every game, and has filled the stat line in the process. Nolen currently tops the Rebels in scoring (12.3), blocks (9) and steals (17) and ranks second in rebounding (4.5) and assists (32). Nolen has scored in double-figure in nine of the last 10 games. Facing Louisiana-Monroe, he turned in a season-high 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 threes, with five assists. Nolen tallied a team-best 21 points and 5-of-7 treys at Arkansas State. He posted 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against Troy.
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