Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 10, 2006
SEC HOME OPENER: Ole Miss (11-3, 1-0) vs. South Carolina (9-5, 0-1)
OLE MISS HOSTS USC IN SEC HOME OPENER: Ole Miss hosts South Carolina Wednesday in the Rebels' SEC home opener. Ole Miss won its fifth straight and notched its first victory in Tuscaloosa in eight years with Saturday's 71-61 win at Alabama. Down by 10 points late in the first half, the Rebels used a 13-0 to take their first lead with 15:51 left in the game and never trailed again. Four of the five Ole Miss starters scored in double-figures, including sophomore center Dwayne Curtis with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Curtis earned SEC Player of the Week honors. The Rebels opened conference play in winning fashion for the first time since 2000-01 and are off to their best start since the 2001-02 squad began the year 11-3.
BARNES IN EIGHTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in his eighth season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and is seven victories away from reaching B.L. "Country" Graham's school record for coaching wins (145). The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 138-96 record. Barnes' 138 coaching victories in his first 234 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .590 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of eight years or more. In 2000-01, Barnes was the SEC 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 an All-American honorable mention his senior season. He is the only person in SEC history to earn both All-SEC and SEC Coach of the Year honors.
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS: South Carolina squandered a 15-point second-half lead to Tennessee in dropping its SEC opener 76-69 Sunday in Columbia. In his fifth year at the helm, Dave Odom returned nine letterwinners, including four starters, from last year's 20-13 squad that captured the NIT championship -- Odom's third postseason berth at USC. The Gamecocks have been the SEC's top defensive team this season, leading the conference in fewest points allowed (61.1) while holding the opposition to 39.7 percent shooting. Offensively, Carolina is firing at 49.1 percent, second-best in the SEC and led by Tarence Kinsey's 51.0 clip. A senior guard, Kinsey ranks top-10 in the SEC in field goal percentage, scoring (15.8), 3-point percentage (.492) and 3s made (29). He has turned in five games with 20 or more points. Junior guard Tre' Kelley is posting 11.0 points and 3.3 assists, while junior forward Renaldo Balkman is averaging 10.8 points and 6.6 boards. Balkman and junior frontcourt mate Brandon Wallace (6.4 rpg) are both among the SEC's top 12 rebounders.
OLE MISS-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 22nd time the two schools have faced each other on the hardwood. Ole Miss holds an 11-10 all-time edge and has won six of the last nine meetings. The Rebels are a perfect 7-0 against South Carolina in Oxford and knocked off the then 23rd-ranked Gamecocks 79-68 in the last Tad Pad encounter in 2004-05. The teams split their two matchups a year ago. USC prevailed in the regular-season finale 62-56 in overtime in Columbia, while Ole Miss pulled out a 53-52 victory three days later in the SEC Tournament first round. It marked the sixth time the teams faced in the SEC tourney, including three of the last four years. The two schools met only once prior to South Carolina joining the Southeastern Conference in the 1991-92 season. The two teams played in the Gulf-South Tournament in the 1960-61 season, with the Gamecocks taking an 85-79 decision. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 7-4 vs. South Carolina and 3-0 against the Gamecocks in Tad Smith Coliseum.
SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dwayne Curtis was named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday. A sophomore center, Curtis posted 21 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in directing the Rebels to their first win in Tuscaloosa since 1997-98. It marked his fourth straight 20-point performance and third double-double of the year. Curtis also totaled 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in Tuesday's victory over Western Carolina. In his first season in the Red and Blue, Curtis has scored in double-figures in 10 of 14 games with six 20-point outings. He also posted 18 points and 12 rebounds against South Carolina State. The Chicago native lit up Centenary for 21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals and returned home to Chicago to hang 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocked shots on UIC. He leads Ole Miss in scoring (14.4), rebounding (7.6), steals (1.6) and blocks (0.9). He is also third in assists (2.0). This marks Ole Miss' first SEC Player of the Week selection of the 2005-06 season and the first for Curtis. The last Ole Miss player to earn the distinction was Todd Abernethy in the first week of the 2004-05 campaign. This is the 11th time a Rebel has received the honor since the 1995-96 season.
HOLDING COURT: The story of the Ole Miss-Carolina series has been a matter of location, location, location. The home team has prevailed in 13-of-14 meetings between the Rebels and Gamecocks on non-neutral courts (the other seven games were played in conference tournaments). The lone road win in the series was Ole Miss' 67-61 win in Columbia in 2000-01.
OLE MISS IN SEC HOME OPENERS: The Rebels have an overall record of 34-38 in SEC home openers. Ole Miss has dropped three straight league home openers, the last two coming against Mississippi State. Ole Miss' last SEC home-opening win was a 69-65 victory over Auburn in 2001-02. Head coach Rod Barnes is 2-5 in SEC home openers.
SUMMER TEAMMATES: Ole Miss' Bam Doyne and South Carolina's Stephen McDowell and Renaldo Balkman competed as teammates in late July through early August, traveling together through Germany on the SCORE team sponsored by Phil Waldrep Ministries International. The trio were among the six SEC players on the 11-man squad. The SCORE team claimed the Tubingen Invitational title and finished 2-3 on the trip.
A HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO COACH: Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes enjoyed a happy 40th birthday on Sunday (Jan. 8) following the Rebels' 71-61 road win at Alabama on Saturday. Ole Miss improved to 6-6 record when playing on or within 2 days (Jan. 6-10) of his birthday.
VIVA LA BAM: After two years in a lesser role, Bam Doyne has moved into the forefront as a key cog in the Rebel attack this season. The junior swingman is one of the club's top defenders but is also punching in the offense. Doyne has notched double-figures eight times and topped Ole Miss in scoring in three games. He recorded a new scoring career high for the third instance this season with his 24-point performance against Arkansas State, in which he notched 6 rebounds, 4 assists and drilled 4-of-4 free throws in the final 41 seconds. He followed up that game with another clutch performance against Southeastern Louisiana, scoring 11 of his 15 points as part of the Rebels' game-winning, second-half rally. In warrior fashion, Doyne played all 40 minutes at Alabama Saturday and notched 13 points and 6 rebounds. He also provided strong defense on the Tide's Ronald Steele, limiting the All-SEC guard to 0-of-10 shooting and 2 points. The Little Rock native ranks second on the team in scoring (10.0), rebounds (4.5), assists (2.5) and steals (1.2).
CURTIS AMONG SEC LEADERS: In his first season as a Rebel, sophomore center Dwayne Curtis is ranking among the SEC leaders in several categories. Here is how the transfer from Auburn stacks up in the league:
"O"-RRIVAL: The Ole Miss offense has shown some major signs of improvement this season. The Rebels are currently averaging 70.6 points per game, which is 6.8 higher than last year's team scoring clip and would be the highest since posting 72.0 in 2001-02. Ole Miss has also raised its field goal percentage from 44.8 a year ago to 46.4. The Rebels topped the 100-point plateau against Centenary, 107-67, for the first time since a 105-71 victory over Alabama in 2001 and only the second time since 1998. The Rebels have shot 50 percent or better in five games and in the 60s twice, including a 60.9 clip against Arkansas State.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Throughout his Rebel tenure, defense has become a trademark of Rod Barnes' squads, and this year is no different. Ole Miss limited Nicholls to 43 points, making the third time this season and 30th instance in Barnes' eight years at the helm that the opposition was contained below 50. On Saturday, the Rebels held Alabama to 38.2 percent shooting in registering the fourth opponent of the year to be held in the 30s from the field. Louisiana-Monroe was limited to 31.1 percent shooting and 1-of-19 from 3-point range. Ole Miss held Memphis 17 points below their scoring average. The Rebels currently rank third in the SEC in 3-point percentage defense (.330). Ole Miss is also forcing 16.5 turnovers per game. The Rebels pressured South Carolina State into 25 turnovers, Centenary into 23 and Nicholls into 21. Ole Miss totaled 13 steals against Arkansas State and 11 at Alabama.
CHARITABLE STRIPE: The Rebels are having an improved season from the free throw line, connecting on 194-of-291 for a 66.7 percentage. That figure is the Rebels' highest free throw clip since shooting 72.6 percent in 2002-03. At Alabama on Saturday, Ole Miss connected on 21-of-26 attempts for an 80.0 percentage, which is the team's highest in a game since shooting 90.0 percent (18-of-20) against South Carolina in the 2003 SEC Tournament. Sophomore Jermey Parnell shot 45.2 percent a year ago but is an improved 82.8 this year. Todd Abernethy boasts a 76.5 free throw percentage, while Londrick Nolen is hitting 72.0 percent. Bam Doyne is at 71.4 from the stripe.
BULKING UP: The new big bodies in the Rebel lineup have paid some dividends this season. After being outrebounded a year ago, Ole Miss enjoys a 1.7 rebounding edge this year and has outrebounded 9-of-14 opponents -- winning all nine games. The Rebels are also averaging 3.9 blocked shots per game, a considerable increase from last year's 2.0 average.
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