Live Radio | Live StatsSEC ROAD OPENER: Ole Miss (11-4, 0-1) vs. Mississippi State (9-5, 0-1)
January 10, 2007 7 p.m. CT
Starkville, Miss. Humphrey Coliseum (10,500)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, analyst; Richard Cross, analyst)
SIRIUS: Channel 147 (MSU Broadcast)
REBS, DOGS BOTH IN SEARCH OF FIRST SEC WIN
Ole Miss heads to Mississippi State Wednesday in the Rebels' SEC road opener. The teams split their two meetings a year ago, and Ole Miss is looking for its first win in Starkville since the 1997-98 campaign. For the second straight game, the Rebels failed to maintain a halftime lead Saturday in dropping their league opener to Kentucky 68-58 in Oxford. Todd Abernethy topped the team in scoring for only the second time this season with 17, while Dwayne Curtis turned in his fourth double-double in seven games with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs are looking to snap a three-game losing skid, having fallen on the road to Missouri (83-75), George Mason (63-59) and Tennessee (92-84) Saturday in their SEC opener. State had put together a seven-game winning streak prior to the Christmas break. As a team, the Bulldogs lead the SEC in three-point percentage defense (.258) while ranking second in blocked shots (6.93) and rebounding (40.7 rpg). Sophomore forward Jamont Gordon ranks among the SEC’s top-10 leaders in scoring (16.0 ppg; 6th), rebounding (7.9 rpg; 8th) and assists (5.0 apg; 5th), while freshman guard Barry Stewart rates as MSU’s secondleading scorer and the No. 2 freshman scorer in the SEC at 11.6 points per outing. Junior forward Charles Rhodes is posting 11.5 points adn 6.2 boards off the bench.
OLE MISS-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES
Wednesday’s game will the 234th meeting between the two schools, with the Bulldogs holding an all-time series lead of 131-102. The teams split the season series a year ago with each winning on its homecourt. MSU enjoys an 86-23 series advantage in games played in Starkville, and have taken eight straight over the Rebels in Humphrey Coliseum. The Bulldogs prevailed 84-55 in last year’s encounter at the Hump, and in 2004-05, the Dogs came from 10 back for a nail-biting 71-68 victory. The last time Ole Miss posted a win in Starkville was an 82-78 victory on Feb. 21, 1998.
REBELS IN SEC ROAD OPENERS
Ole Miss has an all-time record of 9-64 in Southeastern Conference road openers, but is coming off a win a season ago. In their first league game of 2006, the Rebels earned a 64-50 win at Alabama, giving them four victories in their last 10 SEC road openers. In 1996-97, Ole Miss won its first conference road game of the year with a 91-74 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville, and in 1997-98, the Rebels defeated Alabama 74-63 in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss also picked up a win in 2000-01, at Vanderbilt 81-68.
PROTECTING THE BALL
Ole Miss is one of the SEC’s best when it comes to turnovers, ranking second in fewest giveaways (12.1) and third in both turnover margin (+3.33) and assist/turnover ratio (1.17). The Rebels have been in single-digit in turnovers in seven games, including a mere nine in the SEC opener against Kentucky. Starting senior guard Todd Abernethy is the SEC leader in assist/turnover ratio at 2.96.
Ole Miss’ last two losses to Kentucky and Saint Louis have been uncharacteristic of this year’s Rebel squad. After posting a 7-0 season record when leading at the break, Ole Miss has failed to hold on to halftime advantages in each of the last two games. The point totals in the contests (56 vs. SLU and 58 vs. UK) are the Rebels’ two lowest offensive showings of the year and nearly 20 points below their season average. After entering the game fifth in the SEC in 3-point percentage, Ole Miss was a season-worst 4-of-17 (23.5%) against the Wildcats. The Saint Louis defeat marked Ole Miss’ first loss of the season (7-1) when outrebounding a foe (37-33 edge) and a season-low in free throw attempts (4).
The Rebels currently rank second in the SEC in free throw percentage at 71.5. That figure is over 8 points better than last year’s 63.0 percentage and would be the highest since firing at a 72.6 clip in 2002-03. The Ole Miss seniors are leading the charge with Todd Abernethy at 83.9, Bam Doyne at 82.2 and Clarence Sanders at 82.1.
HITTING THE BOARDS
Ole Miss has been a fierce rebounding team of late, outdoing the opposition in five of the last six games. Among those outings is a 39-26 edge at South Alabama and a lopsided 57-30 advantage against Alabama A&M. The Rebels have risen to third in the SEC in offensive rebounds (14.07 per game). That improvement has coincided with the return of Dwayne Curtis, who is grabbing 9.7 boards in his seven games back. Kenny Williams has also helped lead the charge, ranking fourth in the SEC on the offensive boards (3.1) and tying with teammate Bam Doyne for 12th in overall rebounding (6.1).
Andy Kennedy’s style of “pressure basketball” has paid some dividends for the 11-4 Rebels, particular on the offensive side. Ole Miss is averaging 75.1 points per game, a 9.9 raise from a year ago, and connecting on 37.5 percent of its 3-pointers, which is a 4.7 improvement. The Rebels’ 100-80 victory over Nicholls marked only the second time since 2001 for the team to reach the century mark in points. Ole Miss’ current scoring clip is the highest since averaging 77.0 per game in 1998-99.
IMPRESSIVE PRE-LEAGUE SEASON
Ole Miss ended the non-conference portion of its schedule with an 11-3 mark, with all three losses coming on the road to No. 19 UConn 77-59, No. 16 Memphis 82-70 and Saint Louis 59-56 Saturday. Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 133-44 record (.751 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Ole Miss has been particularly dominant against out of conference clubs at home. Last year’s loss to No. 5 Memphis was only the Rebels’ fifth non-SEC home loss since 1995, and Ole Miss was a flawless 8-0 this season.
With only seven games under his belt, Dwayne Curtis is looking like his old self, notching four double-doubles and narrowly missing another. Facing off with Kentucky standout center Randolph Morris, Curtis came through with 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Wildcats Saturday. He had his best game of the year against Alabama A&M, posting season highs and team highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds. In his second game back, the preseason All-SEC honoree reached a double-double less than 15 minutes into the UL-Monroe contest and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. He nearly repeated that feat at South Alabama with 16 points and 9 boards, and against UIC, he registered 13 points and 12 rebounds. Curtis suffered a stress fracture of the third metatarsal in his left foot in the third day of preseason practice and missed the first eight games of the year.
In his first season in the Red and Blue, Curtis earned AP All-SEC honorable mention status and NABC All-District second team honors. He ranked among the league leaders in nine categories and topped Ole Miss in scoring (13.6), rebounding (7.6), steals (1.6), blocks (0.6) and field goal percentage (.568, which ranked second in the SEC). Curtis scored in double-figures in 21 games with six 20-point outings and seven double-doubles.
Senior guard Todd Abernethy has raised his scoring average and assist total in each of his seasons as a Rebel, and this year, those figures are jumping again. He is averaging 9.9 points and turned in the best offensive game of his career against Nicholls with 23 points, missing only two shots all night. He also led the team offensively against Kentucky with 17 points. Abernethy is the SEC leader in assist/turnover ratio (2.96) and ranks fourth in assists (5.07 per game). He is averaging 6.4 assists over the last five games and equaled his career-best assist total at South Alabama with 9 handouts.
DOYNE IT ALL
Bam Doyne is among the SEC statistical leaders this season, ranking third in scoring (17.6), 13th in rebounding (6.1), 12th in field goal percentage (43.2), fifth in free throw accuracy (82.2) and eighth in minutes played (32.07). The senior guard has topped the team or tied for the team-lead in scoring in six games, including 22 in the Saint Louis game. The SLU performance marked his ninth 20-point game in the Red and Blue and sixth of the year, which includes a career-high 28 in the win at South Alabama and a pair of 25-point outings against Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. Doyne has also notched his first two career double-doubles this season with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls and 20 points and a career-best 12 boards against Fairfield. Doyne has led or tied the team-lead in rebounds six times, including 9 boards at Saint Louis.
After a streaky first season in the Red and Blue, Clarence Sanders has been a steady point provider for the Rebels this year. The senior guard hit 11 straight shots at one point, posting a perfect second half against UIC and connecting on his first five attempts against Alabama A&M. Sanders has scored in double-figures in 13 of the last 14 games and ranks eighth in the SEC at 15.5 points per game. He is also fourth in 3s per game (2.47) and ninth in the league in 3-point percentage (40.7). In the win over UIC, the senior guard connected on 4-of-6 treys in leading the Rebels with 20, and he hit his first four 3s in scoring 23 against Alabama A&M, marking his seventh career 20-point outing. Sanders drilled 4-of-7 treys in pouring in 22 points against Louisiana-Lafayette, and he struck for a team-high 21 against Fairfield and 20 against Nicholls. After posting a .357 shooting clip a year ago, Sanders boasts a 46.3 field goal percentage this season, which is 10th-best in the conference.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Todd Abernethy: The senior guard missed the first game of his career against Louisiana-Lafayette. He was injured three minutes into the season opener after his head collided with an opposing player’s shoulder on a screen. He suffered a slight concussion and had five stitches over his right eye. After sitting out the ULL game, the three-time Team Captain returned to the Ole Miss starting lineup with 13 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds against Fairfield.
Trey Hampton: After missing two games with sickness, the sophomore forward returned to the court against New Orleans and added 5 points and 4 boards ... Hampton enjoyed his best game of the year against Central Arkansas. With Kenny Williams slowed by a sprained ankle, Hampton earned his first start of 2006-07 and posted season highs in minutes (25), points (8), rebounds (5) and assists (2). He was also 2-of-4 from behind the arc.
Xavier Hansbro: After making no starts as a rookie, the sophomore forward received the starting nod in the season’s first two games. In his first career start in the opening win over Mississippi Valley State, the Trezevant, Tenn., native responded with his second double-digit scoring outing as a Rebel, dropping in 11 points along with 6 rebounds. Coincidentally, Hansbro’s only other double-figure game was in last year’s season opener, when he hit 4-of-6 3-pointers for 12 points against Southern Utah.
Greg Hardy: Since suiting up for his first game with the Rebel basketball team against Alabama A&M, the two-sport athlete has seen action in the last three games. A freshman from Memphis who is also a member of the Ole Miss football team, Hardy began practicing with the team on Nov. 27, following the Rebels’ Egg Bowl victory over Mississippi State in the season finale on the gridiron. As a rookie on the football team, Hardy played in all 12 games on the defensive line, tying for the team-lead in sacks (3.0) and ranking fifth in total tackles (49). His four fumble recoveries also tied for third in the SEC, and against MSU, he saw his first action at wide receiver and hauled in a 23-yard touchdown.
Andy Ogide: After playing in only three of the first 12 games, the freshman forward received the starting nod for the first time in his career in the win over Alabama A&M. Ogide saw 11 minutes of action and posted 3 points and 5 rebounds. He had his best game against Louisiana-Monroe with 7 points on 3-for-3 shooting.
Jermey Parnell: After only five double-figures scoring games in his first two seasons, the junior forward has already scored 10 or more points six times this year. In the win over Tennessee Tech, Parnell tallied 14 points and 8 rebounds, and he followed up with 13 points and 4 boards against Nicholls. Against New Orleans, the Gosnell, Ark., native established a career high in scoring with 16 points, going 5-for-5 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe.
Eniel Polynice: He has posted a pair of double-digit scoring performances, and over the last eight games, has hit 6-of-12 3-pointers. The freshman guard had his best game as a Rebel against New Orleans, knocking down 4-of-4 3-pointers in totaling 15 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Polynice dropped in 12 of his points in the second half in helping Ole Miss rally from 7 down early in the stanza. He followed up with 10 points in a career-high 29 minutes at Memphis. Down 12-3 early, Polynice came off the bench to score three of the next four Ole Miss baskets to help ignite a 21-11 Rebel run ... Polynice also sparked Ole Miss to victory against Central Arkansas in the HCF Classic. With Ole Miss clinging two a two-point advantage midway through the second half, Polynice scored 8 points in 2:18 to push the lead up to 10. The Sarasota, Fla., native drilled a pair of 3-pointers in recording that career-high point total.
Brian Smith: With starting point guard Todd Abernethy leaving with injury in the game’s opening moments, junior guard Smith stepped in admirably in the season opener, helping lead the Rebels to the 72-49 victory over Mississippi Valley State. Smith played 21 minutes and recorded career highs of 10 points and 4 rebounds. He connected on 4-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-4 treys. The 5-foot-11 guard earned his first career start against Louisiana-Lafayette and saw 17 minutes of action.
Kenny Williams: The junior forward is 12th in the SEC in rebounding (6.1) and ranks third on the offensive boards (3.1) ... Williams recently turned in his second double-double at Ole Miss with a 13-point, career-high 13-rebound effort against Alabama A&M. Williams hit for 15 points and 6 boards against New Orleans and had his best game as a Rebel against Nicholls with his first double-double, posting career highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Those numbers bested his strong totals in the previous game against Tennessee Tech when he struck for 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Williams also stood out in the win over Louisiana-Lafayette, posting 12 points and 8 boards.
REBELS ENTER KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION
On March 24, 2006, Andy Kennedy was introduced as the 20th head men's basketball coach in the history of the University of Mississippi. A Louisville, Miss., native, Kennedy spent the 2005-06 season as the interim head coach at the University of Cincinnati.
With less than three months to prepare and shorthanded on staff and scholarship players, Kennedy had to lead a shaken Bearcat program that was preparing for its debut season in the BIG EAST. Despite the obstacles, he directed Cincinnati to a 21-13 record, defeating 12 foes ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI and playing a schedule rated fifth-toughest in the nation. Kennedy's Bearcats narrowly missed an NCAA Tournament bid and had their season end in the NIT quarterfinals.
Kennedy proved himself both as an astute strategist and a top-notch recruiter in more than a decade of coaching in the college ranks. Athlon named him one of the nation's top 10 assistant coaches, and Rivals.com listed him among the top 20 college basketball recruiters. In addition to Cincinnati, Kennedy was also an assistant at his alma mater UAB and South Alabama.