Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 9, 2004
GAME #13: Ole Miss (8-4) vs. Auburn (9-3)
OLE MISS FACES AUBURN IN SEC ROAD OPENER: Ole Miss travels to Auburn Saturday in the Rebels' SEC road opener and their third game away from Oxford this season. Both Ole Miss and Auburn dropped their conference opener last time out. The Rebels had their six-game win streak snapped Wednesday to Mississippi State, 61-54. Ole Miss led most of the way, including a 10-point advantage with just more than 6:30 remaining. Tommie Eddie led the Rebels and posted his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
BARNES IN SIXTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in the midst of his sixth season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 108-65 record (.624 winning percentage). The 100 wins in his first five seasons is the most by a Rebel coach in that span of time in Ole Miss history. In 2000-01, Barnes was the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, and guided Ole Miss to a school-record 17 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 AUBURN: After opening the season with a seven-game win streak, Auburn has dropped three of its last five, including a 59-53 defeat at No. 20 Vanderbilt Wednesday in the Tigers' SEC opener. Marco Killingsworth poured in 12 points against the Commodores and is leading the AU attack this season, averaging 14.3 points and 6.1 rebounds. Fellow junior forward Brandon Robinson follows with 13.4 points and 7.3 boards per game. Robinson is also third in the SEC in steals at 2.4 per game and is helping the Tigers lead the SEC in steals at 11.0 each time out. Auburn also sits atop the league in three-point percentage at 37.4. In his 10th year at the helm, head coach Cliff Ellis returns 10 players, including three starters, from last year's 22-12 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 107th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 65-41. The Rebels have won 4 of the last 8 encounters in the series, which began in 1927. Last year, Auburn took both encounters, posting a 77-71 victory on the Plains and prevailing 80-75 in Oxford. The Tigers hold a commanding 43-8 series lead in games played in Auburn. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 4-6 versus Auburn and 1-4 against the Tigers on the Plains.
REBELS IN SEC ROAD OPENERS: Ole Miss has an all-time record of 8-62 in Southeastern Conference road openers. The Rebels posted victories in three of their last seven 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. 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 their SEC road opener in 2000-01 (Vanderbilt, 81-68). Ole Miss lost its SEC road opener at South Carolina 55-49 last season. Head coach Rod Barnes is 1-4 in SEC road openers. His first four years at the Rebel helm, Barnes opened SEC play on the road.
WHAT A TURNAROUND: After a 2-3 start, the Rebels have reversed their fortunes and won six of their last seven. Compared to its first five games, Ole Miss has improved over the last seven in field goal percentage by seven percent (41.3 to 48.3), three-point percentage by more than five percent (30.4 to 35.9), scoring defense by nine points (64.2 to 55.1) and rebounding margin by five boards (-5.6 to +0.9). The offensive balance has also been better as six players have averaged better than five points during the streak, as opposed to only four through the first five games.
BIG WEAPON: One of the biggest keys to the Rebels' tournaround has been the play of the biggest man in the Rebel lineup. After a slow start to his debut campaign in the Red and Blue, 6-foot-7, 260-pound Tommie Eddie has energized Ole Miss over the last seven games, averaging 10.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and shooting 64.4 percent. The junior transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas posted his second double-double as a Rebel against Mississippi State Wednesday with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Eddie's true breakout game came against Nicholls State. Starting in place of ill forward Justin Reed, Eddie exploded for game highs in points (22) and rebounds (10). Those numbers nearly doubled the junior forward's totals (30 points and 14 boards) through the season's first eight games.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR COACH: Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes celebrated his 38th birthday Jan. 8. The Rebels have been rather successful when playing on or around Barnes' birthday. Ole Miss has a 5-4 record when playing on or within 2 days (Jan. 6-10) of his birthday. Here's wishing Coach Barnes a happy birthday this week.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Lately, the Rebels have displayed the defensive prowess that has become a trademark of Rod Barnes' squads. Nicholls State, Alabama State and East Carolina averaged 33.8 percent shooting, and all three were limited to less than 50 points. It makes four times this season and 23 times in Barnes' six years at the helm that Ole Miss has held their opponent under 50 points. The Rebels curently rank second in the SEC in scoring defense (58.9 per game).
REED NEARING ELITE CLUB: With just 10 more rebounds, Justin Reed will enter an elite Ole Miss category. The senior forward would become only the fifth Rebel to rank top 10 in both career points and rebounds. Reed tallied eight points against Nicholls State to crack the top 10 of the Ole Miss career scoring chart. With 661 rebounds in the Red and Blue, Reed is also nearing the top 10 in boards. He is currently 11th in Rebel career rebounding and 12 short of tying Jason Smith (1996-99) for 10th all-time.
PROTECTING THE BALL: The Rebels have been among college basketball's best this season in the turnover category. Ole Miss tops the SEC and ranks top 10 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (12.3). The Rebels are also third in the conference in TO margin (+3.25). Leading the charge is freshman point guard Todd Abernethy with a 3.5/1 assist/turnover ratio. In addition, the Rebels have forced 16 or more turnovers in six of the 12 games, and induced 23 takeaways against Nicholls State. Nine different players collected at least one steal, including four by Aaron Harper, as Ole Miss snatched 15 against the Colonels. The Rebels also tallied 12 steals against Louisiana-Monroe, led by Cavadas Nunnery and Justin Johnson with five apiece. Harper heads the team and is tied for ninth in the SEC in steals per game (1.67).
AMONG SEC'S TOP TANDEMS: With Justin Reed and Aaron Harper back, the Rebels have an advantage enjoyed by few others. Ole Miss is one of only two teams in the Southeastern Conference to return its top two scorers from last year, with Arkansas being the other club. This season, the senior duo of Reed and Harper, who is currently averaging 18 and 14, respectively, was voted among the top tandems in college hoops by Basketball News. Reed and Harper have spent the majority of their basketball lives together, having teamed up at Provine High School in Jackson, Miss., before arriving in Oxford.
HARPER APPROACHES RECORD: Aaron Harper, who joined the 1,000-point club and 200 three-pointer club a year ago, is set to become the Rebels' all-time leader in three-pointers made, as he sits 13 away. The 6-foot-7 swingman totaled 24 points against Centenary and knocked down a three-pointer to move into second on the Ole Miss career list for treys. Harper hit 65 threes in 2002-03, which is the fourth-most for a single season in Ole Miss history.
GOOD OMEN: The Ole Miss Rebels were picked to finish in sixth in the Southeastern Conference Western Division in a vote by media members at the annual conference media day Oct. 29 in Birmingham, Ala. The last time the Rebels were picked so low was prior to the 2000-01 season, when Ole Miss claimed the SEC West crown en route to a school-record 27 wins and a Sweet 16 appearance. LSU was picked to win the Western Division crown, while Kentucky was selected to win the Eastern Division championship and the SEC overall title.
REED'S INCREDIBLE START: Justin Reed jumped out to one of the greatest season starts in school history, leading the Rebels in points and rebounds in each of the team's first five games and posting four 20-point efforts over that stretch. The senior forward's career-high 28 points vs. Centenary tied the most by an Ole Miss player since Marcus Hicks' 31 in 1999-2000. A native of Jackson, Miss., Reed also matched his career high for blocks with four against the Gents. Reed's career-high 19 rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana equaled the most by a Rebel since Walter Actwood's 20 in 1975. He also nailed a pair of game-clinching free throws against the Lions with 10 seconds left. Prior to the Florida State game, Reed had notched 20 or more points in five straight games, dating back to last season, and is the first Rebel to manage that feat since Keith Carter in 1998-99. Reed now boasts 14 career double-doubles and 16 20-point games.
BARNES TOPPLES CENTURY MARK: With the Rebels' victory over South Carolina in the 2003 Southeastern Conference Tournament first round, Rod Barnes recorded the 100th win of his career. His record currently stands at 108-65. The 108 victories are second most in Ole Miss history, trailing only B.L. "Country" Graham's (1950-62) 145 wins. Barnes is the only coach in the program's history to average 20 wins per season.
REED PILES UP PRESEASON HONORS: Justin Reed is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of Rebel basketball, and the awards continued to pour in this preseason. The senior forward earned Preseason All-SEC first team status from Athlon Sports, Basketball News, Lindy's, Street & Smith's and Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook. Athlon's ranked him the No. 5 "inside-out player" in college basketball. Reed was also rated the 11th-best power forward in the nation by Lindy's and the 14th-best by The Sporting News. Reed has earned All-SEC honors each of his three collegiate seasons, and was a preseason Wooden Award candidate each of the last two seasons. He is the only player from the state of Mississippi to ever be nominated twice.
FUTURE REBELS: The future of Ole Miss hoops got even brighter in mid-November as the Rebels added three new players for the 2004-05 season. Ole Miss received national letters of intent from Arkansas natives Jeremy Parnell, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward/center from Gosnell, and Brandon Patterson, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound swingman from Altheimer, and Jackson's Bobby Clark, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound guard. An All-State first team pick a year ago, Parnell averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks as a junior at Gosnell High School, where he was coached by Len Whitehead. Included in his 2002-03 campaign was a triple-double performance against Senath (Mo.), tallying 21 points, 11 boards and 10 blocks. Patterson helped guide Altheimer High School to a 34-1 mark and a 2A state championship as a junior a year ago, earning state tournament MVP honors along the way. For the season, he averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Clark is a two-time All-State selection at nationally-ranked Lanier High School, where he has attended the last two years. At Lanier, Clark averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists during his sophomore campaign, and last year, he posted 15 points, seven boards and seven assists per game as a junior.
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