Men's Basketball To Open Conference Play At Vanderbilt Saturday

Jan. 4, 2001

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The Ole Miss Rebels (12-1, 0-0 SEC) will open Southeastern Conference play Saturday, Jan. 6 when they meet Vanderbilt (10-2, 0-0 SEC) in Nashville, Tenn. Game time is 7:00 p.m. (CT) at Memorial Gym. Ole Miss, ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll, improved its record to 12-1 with a 94-59 win over Morris Brown Dec. 30. The Commodores dropped a 97-74 decision at Boston College in their last outing Dec. 30.

Game #14
#22/#21 Ole Miss (12-1) vs. Vanderbilt (10-2)
Saturday, January 6, 2001 ? 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Memorial Gym -- Nashville, Tenn.

Rebels on Television and Radio


Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play, Sean Tuohy, color analyst, Stan Sandroni, pregame/halftime/postgame host)

Rod Barnes is in his third season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program. He has an overall record of 51-28 (.646 winning percentage). In his first two seasons, Barnes compiled a 39-27 record, and the 39 victories are the most by a Rebel coach in his first two years in Ole Miss history. Last year, Barnes guided Ole Miss to a 19-14 overall record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Rebels advanced to the NIT quarterfinals for the second time in school history. The winning season and postseason tournament both were the fourth straight for the Ole Miss program.

In 1998-99, Barnes led Ole Miss to a 20-13 overall record and a third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Satartia, Miss., native was the first head coach in the history of Rebel basketball to win 20 games in his first season. Barnes also guided the Rebels to a 72-70 win over Villanova in the NCAA Tournament first round, marking the program's first-ever victory in NCAA play.

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 (17th, 1,201 points), assists (2nd, 456) and steals (6th, 154).

The Jan. 6 game will be the 100th meeting between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the hardwood. The Commodores lead the all-time series, 63-36, and also hold a commanding 43-6 series advantage in games played in Nashville. Vanderbilt has defeated Ole Miss the last 10 times in Nashville, with the Rebels' last victory in Memorial Gym being a 60-55 win on Feb. 2, 1985 (1984-85 season). Last year, Ole Miss defeated Vanderbilt, 75-67 in Oxford.

The Commodores enter the Jan. 6 game with a 10-2 overall record. Vanderbilt has won four of its last five games, but dropped a 97-74 decision at Boston College in its last outing Dec. 30. Senior center Greg LaPointe leads three Vanderbilt players in double figures with a 12.3 scoring average. Freshman Matt Freije (11.1 ppg) and junior Chuck Moore (10.0 ppg) -- both of whom missed the Commodores' last game at Boston College -- are also averaging double figures. Senior Anthony Williams is nearly averaging a double-double at 9.2 ppg and 9.0 rpg. LaPointe is the team's top shooter from the field at 56.9 percent, while freshman Brendan Plavich leads the squad from the three-point line at 40.8 percent. The Commodores are shooting 43.3 percent from the field, 31 percent from the arc and 70 percent from the charity stripe. Vanderbilt is out-rebounding its opponents, 39.7-31.8 (+7.9).

The Rebels have an overall record of 24-43 in Southeastern Conference openers in their previous 67 years of play in the league. In the last eight years, Ole Miss has a 3-5 record in SEC openers, and has won two of its last four season openers. Last year, the Rebels dropped their league season opener at Arkansas, 71-64, and in 1999-2000, Ole Miss lost its SEC opener at Vanderbilt, 79-64. Prior to the last two losses, Ole Miss had won consecutive SEC season openers over Arkansas (91-74) in 1996-97 and South Carolina (73-54) in 1997-98. The other SEC-opening victory in the last eight years came against Arkansas (76-71) in Oxford in 1994-95. Head coach Rod Barnes is 0-2 in SEC openers.

Ole Miss has an all-time record of 7-60 in Southeastern Conference road openers. In the past eight seasons, the Rebels are 2-8 in SEC road openers. Ole Miss, however, has posted victories in two of its last four SEC road openers. In 1997-98, the Rebels defeated Alabama, 74-63 in Tuscaloosa in their first conference road game, and in 1996-97, Ole Miss won its conference road opener with a 91-74 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville. Last year, Ole Miss lost at Arkansas, 71-64.

For the third consecutive year, the Ole Miss Rebel basketball begins its Southeastern Confer-ence schedule on the road. The Rebels are one of four league teams to play its SEC opener on the road the last three years (including 2000-01). The other three SEC teams to do so are Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

Since the 1990-91 season (and including the 2000-01 campaign), the Rebels have opened the Southeastern Conference portion of their schedule on the road eight times compared to only three league openers in Oxford.

Ole Miss is one of three Southeastern Conference teams to play its first two games in the league on the road. The Rebels play at Vanderbilt Jan. 6 and at Arkansas Jan. 10. Alabama (at LSU, at Tennessee) and Florida (at South Carolina, at Mississippi State) are the other two SEC teams to play their first two league games on the road.

No, Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is not celebrating his 50th birthday (not even close for the 34-year-old, by the way). With the Rebels' overtime victory over No. 13-ranked Southern Cal Dec. 22, Barnes won his 50th game as the Ole Miss head coach. He has a current record of 51-28. Barnes reached the 50-win plateau the third fastest of any coach in Rebel history. George Bohler and Homer Hazel are the only two coaches in Ole Miss history to reach the milestone faster.

Speaking of birthdays, Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes will be celebrating his 35th Jan. 8. Here's wishing Coach Barnes a happy birthday a little early.

Rebel sophomore guard Syniker Taylor (Gulfport, Miss.), who also played basketball at Ole Miss last year, has decided to pass on joining the basketball team for the 2000-01 season and concentrate on football. This fall, Taylor started all 11 games at free safety for the Ole Miss football squad and recorded 67 tackles (43 solo), three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. He was second on the squad in tackles and interceptions. Taylor also returned one interception 65 yards for a touchdown versus Georgia (Nov. 18, 2000).

Last year, Taylor played in 18 games for the Ole Miss basketball team. He averaged 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds, while posting 10 assists and 18 steals.

Forget the Final Four for now. Ole Miss was among the 'Final Two' prior to the Rebels' loss to Iowa State Dec. 23. Before the setback to Iowa State, Ole Miss was one of the last two NCAA Division I schools to have both its men's and women's basketball teams undefeated. The Lady Rebels have an 11-1 record. Baylor is now the lone school to have both its men's and women's team undefeated.

Ole Miss has started a campaign with a 12-1 record for the third time in four years in 2000-01. The 1997-98 and 1999-2000 Rebel squads also began their seasons with 12-1 records. The last time an Ole Miss team started a campaign with a better record was 1925-26 when that squad had a 15-1 record to begin the year. That team finished the season with a 16-2 mark.

After tying his career high for three-pointers made (three) seven previous imes, Jason Flanigan (Little Rock, Ark.) finally got 'over the hump,' hitting a career-best five treys in the Rebels' victory over Morris Brown Dec. 30. The 6-foot-1 senior guard hit 5-of-6 from the arc and was 7-of-8 from the field versus the Wolverines. Flanigan scored 19 points in the victory, just one point shy of tying his career high.

With their victory over No. 13-ranked Southern Cal on Dec. 22, the Rebels tied the best start in school history with an 11-0 mark. The 1936-37 team also had an 11-0 start. Last year (1999-2000), Ole Miss started the campaign with a 6-0 record before losing its first game at Oklahoma, 81-73.

Before their loss to Iowa State Dec. 23, the Rebels had won 11 straight games, tying the school record for consecutive victories. The 1936-37 and 1937-38 teams also posted 11-game win streaks.

Ole Miss placed second in the Yahoo! Sports Invitational played in Laie, Hawaii, Dec. 21-23. The Rebels fell to Iowa State, 73-68 in the invitational's championship game. Ole Miss advanced to the title game with victories over Southern Illinois (70-66) and No. 13-ranked Southern Cal (84-83) in overtime.

Senior Rahim Lockhart (Mendenhall, Miss.) was selected to the Yahoo! Sports Invitational All-Tournament Team the weekend of Dec. 21-23. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12.7 points and 9.0 rebounds in the tournament's three games. He recorded his 19th career double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) in the Rebels' victory over No. 13-ranked Southern Cal Dec. 22. It was the second straight season that Lockhart received tournament honors. Last year, he earned All-Tournament Team accolades at the SoCon Holiday Hoops Tournament (Nov. 26-28, 1999).

Senior Jason Holmes (Tylertown, Miss.) played big for the Rebels in the Yahoo! Sports Invitational Dec. 21-23. The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 8.3 points in the tournament, but scored in double figures versus No. 13-ranked Southern Cal and Iowa State.

In the Rebels' win over the Trojans, Holmes netted 10 points, but none as key as his four free throws in the contest. His first two free throws pulled the Rebels to within two points at 78-76 with 31 seconds left in regulation, setting up Aaron Harper's game-tying hoop. Then, Holmes' two free throws in overtime gave Ole Miss the lead for good at 82-80 with 2:49 left.

Holmes followed that performance with 12 points versus Iowa State in the title game. He shot 3-of-4 from the three-point line and 3-of-3 from the free throw line in the contest.

After a slow start at dialing from long distance this year, the Rebels are getting hot from the three-point line. Prior to the Dec. 18 game versus Troy State, Ole Miss was ranked last in the SEC in three-point field goals made per game at 4.63. However, that has changed in Ole Miss' last five contests. The Rebels hit a school-record 14 treys versus Troy State, nine versus Southern Illinois and Southern Cal, seven versus Iowa State and 10 versus Morris Brown. Over those five games, the Rebels have hit 9.8 treys per contest. Ole Miss is also hitting 43.4 percent from the arc in those five games.

With his 12-rebound performance versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff Nov. 18, senior Rahim Lockhart became the 15th player in Rebel basketball history to grab 500 boards in a career. He now has 625 career rebounds, after grabbing 10 boards versus Morris Brown Dec. 30. Lockhart is in the No. 11 spot on the Ole Miss career rebounding list, and needs 12 more rebounds to take over the No. 10 spot currently held by Joe Harvell (1990-93, 636 career rebounds). Lockhart entered the 1999-2000 season with 278 boards, and with his 220 rebounds in 1999-2000, he had 498 rebounds coming into the 2000-01 campaign.

Senior Rahim Lockhart recorded a career-best five blocked shots versus Memphis Dec. 9. After his two blocks versus Morris Brown Dec. 30, he now has 109 for his career and is in third place on the Ole Miss career blocked shots chart. Up next for Lockhart is Johnnie Rogers (1996-99), who is second with 114 career blocked shots. The 6-foot-8 forward entered the 2000-01 season with 83 career blocks. Lockhart led the Rebels in blocked shots the previous two seasons with 44 and 46 blocks, respectively.

Senior Rahim Lockhart is picking up where he left off last year -- doubling his pleasure. Lockhart came into the 2000-01 season with 14 career double-doubles, and he recorded his 20th double-double performance in Ole Miss' win over Morris Brown (10 points-10 rebounds). He also had double-doubles versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff (17-12) Nov. 18, Louisiana-Monroe (16-10) Nov. 28, Memphis (15-14) Dec. 9, Southeastern Louisiana (21-14) Dec. 13 and Southern Cal (16-13) Dec. 22. Last year, Lockhart had 13 double-doubles, which ranked him in the top 10 in the nation in that statistical category. His first career double-double came versus Tennessee (16-12) as a sophomore in the 1998-99 season.

Yes, we must. The Rebels were en fuego -- on fire -- from the three-point arc in their victory over Troy State Dec. 18. Ole Miss hit a school-record 14 treys, breaking the previous mark of 13 three-pointers versus Arkansas in the 1991-92 season (Jan. 18, 1992, 114-93 Arkansas win). The Rebels shot 41.2 percent from the arc in the win over the Trojans, led by redshirt freshman Josh Hayes' (Little Rock, Ark.) 6-of-7 shooting performance from the arc. This season, Ole Miss is hitting 37.9 percent from the arc.

The old saying is that defense wins championships. If that is the case, Ole Miss may be in contention for a title in 2000-01, especially if the Rebels can continue to hassle the opposition with their defensive pressure. Ole Miss is holding its opponents to an average of 62.1 points per game, which is second in the Southeastern Conference.

The Ole Miss Rebels were picked to finish in sixth place in the SEC Western Division in a vote by media members at the annual conference media days Nov. 1-2 in Birmingham, Ala. Arkansas was picked to win the SEC Western Division championship, while Tennessee was selected to win both the SEC overall title and the Eastern Division crown.

Well, for the Rebels, it seems as if that number is 70. Since the 1996-97 season and including this campaign, Ole Miss has an incredible 79-9 record (.898 winning percentage) when it scores 70 points or more. On the other hand, the Rebels are 13-35 when they net less than 70 points during that five-year period (including 2000-01). Last year, the Rebels were 16-3 when scoring 70 points or more. This season, Ole Miss has an 8-0 record when scoring 70 points or more.

As discussed in the previous note, the Rebels have been nearly unbeatable when they score 70 points or more. However, the 2000-01 Rebels are proving they can win games when they don't reach that magical number of 70. Ole Miss is 4-1 this year when scoring less than 70 points, with the lone setback being a 73-68 loss to Iowa State in the championship game of the Yahoo! Sports Invitational.

The Rebels have a 19-35 regular-season record versus teams from the SEC Eastern Division since the conference began divisional play in the 1991-92 season. Ole Miss is 22-42 versus the SEC Eastern Division teams, including tournament play.

The Rebels haven't had a reputation for hitting a high percentage >from the charity stripe the last couple of seasons, especially down the stretch in games. However, that may be changing in 2000-01. Ole Miss is hitting 67.4 percent from the foul line for the season, but more importantly, the Rebels are hitting their foul shots down the stretch. In their five narrow wins over Sam Houston State, VCU, Oklahoma, Memphis and Southern Illinois, the Rebels shot 80 percent from the line (40-of-50) in the final four minutes (and overtime) of those games.

Redshirt freshman Josh Hayes had the game of his young career Dec. 18 in the Rebels' victory over Troy State. Hayes scored a career-high 20 points and also posted career bests of seven field goals and six three-pointers. For the season, Hayes is shooting 60 percent from the field (12-of-20) and 50 percent from the three-point line (7-of-14).

In the Rebels' victory over Southeastern Louisiana Dec. 13, senior Rahim Lockhart was nearly perfect from the floor. The 6-foot-8 forward finished the game 10-of-11 from the field, but was 10-of-10 with five minutes left in the contest. His 90.9 field goal shooting performance is tied for the second-best, single-game showing in Rebel basketball history.

Senior Jason Flanigan has gained a reputation as one of the top defenders in the Southeastern Conference. That reputation may now extend nationwide after his three brilliant defensive showings in the Rebel victories over No. 14-ranked Oklahoma, Kansas State and Memphis.

In the win over the Sooners, Flanigan held Hollis Price, Oklahoma's leading scorer, to five points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field. Price came into the contest averaging 17.0 points and hitting 62 percent from the floor.

Then, in the Rebels' next contest versus Kansas State, Flanigan picked up where he left off in the Oklahoma game. The 6-foot-1 guard held Phineas Atchison, the Wildcats' top scorer, to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting >from the floor. Atchison entered the game averaging 14.5 points and shooting 40.8 percent from the field.

In the Rebels' win over Memphis, Flanigan led the defensive charge against the Memphis guard trio of Scooter McFadgon, Shyrone Chatman and Marcus Moody. The trio shot 12 percent (3-of-25) from the field.

Senior Rahim Lockhart had a career-high six steals in the Rebels' victory over Kansas State Dec. 5. Lockhart's previous career best was five steals on two occasions, with the last time coming in the Rebels' victory over Southwest Missouri State game in the NIT second round Mar. 21. For his career, the 6-foot-8 forward has 125 steals.

After setting a career high in steals in the Rebels' victory over Kansas State Dec. 5, Rahim Lockhart followed up with a career high in blocked shots in Ole Miss' win at Memphis Dec. 9. The 6-foot-8 forward blocked a career-best five shots versus the Tigers, breaking his previous high of four. This season, Lockhart leads the Rebels with 26 blocked shots.

Throughout his career, Jason Flanigan has not had the reputation of being a scorer. However, the last two seasons when the Rebels have needed him to step forward on the offensive end, the 6-foot-1 guard has responded. He did it again Dec. 21 versus Southern Illinois. With the Salukis beginning to take control of the game early in the second half, Flanigan hit three treys in a three-minute stretch to keep the Rebels to within striking distance. He also hit two key free throws with six minutes left to widen the Rebel lead.

In the Rebels' victory over Memphis Dec. 9, Flanigan netted 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, including three treys. Flanigan nailed a key three-pointer in the first half to extend the Rebel margin, and later in the second half, he hit his third trey of the game to halt a Tiger rally.

Earlier this season, Flanigan came up big for the Rebels in their victory over VCU. With the Rebels fighting to stay in the game, Flanigan answered consecutive VCU hoops with two baskets of his own. His second bucket -- a three-pointer -- started a 10-0 Rebel run which cut the Ram advantage to six at 40-34 at the break. His second three-pointer of the game came during the Ole Miss comeback in the second half, slicing the VCU lead to 70-68 with 3:13 left in regulation.

This year's senior class of Jason Flanigan and Rahim Lockhart and junior redshirt John Engstrom (Paragould, Ark.) are closing in on the record of most victories by a class in a four-year span. The record is 74 wins by the 1998-99 class of Hunter Carpenter, Keith Carter, Jason Smith and Michael White. After Ole Miss' win over Morris Brown Dec. 30, this class has now won 73 games, just one behind the record. This senior class has also been a part of the 1998 SEC Western Division championship squad and has been to three straight postseasons (2 NCAA, 1 NIT).

It's hard to believe that a freshman could be this wise this early, but Justin Reed (Jackson, Miss.) showed his 'basketball smarts' in the Rebels' victory over Memphis Dec. 9. After playing only three minutes in the first half with three fouls, he picked up his fourth early in the second half. But, Reed returned for the final 10 minutes and made the most of it. He netted eight of his 10 points in the final 10 minutes, including two huge baskets (one on a putback as the shot clock expired) and two free throws with under three minutes to play.

Senior Jason Holmes scored a career-high 17 points in the Rebels' victory over Kansas State Dec. 5, breaking his previous high of 15 points versus Furman in the 1999-2000 campaign. The 6-foot-5 guard also recorded career bests with six field goals and tied a career high with three treys.

Freshman Aaron Harper (Jackson, Miss.) had the hot hand in the Rebels' victory over No. 14-ranked Oklahoma Dec. 2. The 6-foot-7 forward/guard missed only one shot in his career-high, 18-point performance versus the Sooners. Harper was 4-of-5 from the field, with all his field goal attempts from beyond the three-point arc. He was also 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.

The trio of Aaron Harper, Justin Reed and David Sanders (Jackson, Miss.) -- the 'Provine Posse' -- came up big again in the Rebels' victory over No. 14-ranked Oklahoma Dec. 2. The trio combined for 38 of Ole Miss' 60 points in the game, with Harper scoring a career-best 18 points. The trio shot 61.1 percent from the field (11-of-18), 57.1 percent from the three-point line (4-of-7) and 70.5 percent from the charity stripe (12-of-17). Harper, Reed and Sanders also combined for nine boards in the victory.

The Provine High School trio of Aaron Harper, Justin Reed and David Sanders, nicknamed the 'Provine Posse,' took a couple of games to adjust to the collegiate level, but they have and came up big in the Rebels' win at VCU. All three netted double figures in the win, as Reed had 16, Sanders 13 and Harper 10. But, it wasn't as much their scoring as when they stepped up, and the following charts their big plays in the VCU win:

  • Lockhart picked up his second foul at the 11:36 mark of the first half and went to the bench. From that point, Reed scored eight points and grabbed seven boards the rest of the half.
  • With time running down in the first half, Sanders capped a 10-0 run with a layup at the buzzer to pull the Rebels to within six at 40-34 at the break.
  • Two Harper free throws cut the VCU lead to 71-70 with 1:14 left in regulation, setting up Jason Harrison's three-point basket to put Ole Miss ahead 73-72 with under a minute to play.
  • Harper nailed a three-pointer to give Ole Miss the lead for good in overtime at 76-73.
  • Sanders hit two free throws with :36 left in overtime to give Ole Miss an 84-78 lead.
  • Harper clinched the victory with two free throws with :06 on the clock.

Freshman Justin Reed recorded the first double-double of his collegiate career in the Rebels' victory over Virginia Commonwealth Nov. 25. Reed had 16 points and 13 boards, which are career highs. The 6-foot-8 forward also had one blocked shot and two steals in the win.

Talk about a 'homecourt-advantage' series between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt has won 10 straight over the Rebels in Memorial Gym (last Ole Miss win in 1984-85 season), while Ole Miss has won seven straight over the Commodores in Oxford (last Vanderbilt win in 1988-89 season)...Both Ole Miss and Vanderbilt were picked to finish last in their respective SEC divisions...Vanderbilt is the lone Eastern Division team that Ole Miss has a winning record against (6-4) since the SEC went to two divisions...David Sanders dished out a career-best six assists versus Morris Brown.



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