Ole Miss Hosts Georgia In SEC Home Opener

Jan. 11, 2001

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Game #16
Georgia (8-7, 1-1) vs.
#20/#21 Ole Miss (14-1, 2-0)
Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 11:05 a.m. (CT) tip
Tad Smith Coliseum - Oxford, Miss.

Rebels on Television and Radio
Television: ESPN (Dan Schulman, play-by-play, Larry Conley, color analyst, Carol Langley, producer, Ed Collins, director)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play, Sean Tuohy, color analyst, Stan Sandroni, pregame/halftime/postgame host)

The Ole Miss Rebels (14-1, 2-0 SEC) will play their Southeastern Conference home opener Saturday, Jan. 13 when they host the Georgia Bulldogs (8-7, 1-1 SEC). The game will tip off at 11:05 a.m. (CT), and will be televised by ESPN from Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss, ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll, won its second straight league road game at Arkansas, 53-48 Jan. 10, while Georgia defeated Auburn, 85-80 in overtime in Athens Jan. 10.

Rod Barnes is in his third season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program. He has an overall record of 53-28 (.654 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).

Saturday's game is the 94th meeting between the two schools, with Georgia holding a 59-34 lead in the series. Last year, the Bulldogs defeated Ole Miss, 71-65 in Athens, Ga.. Prior to last year's loss to Georgia, the Rebels had won two straight and three of the last four meetings versus the Bulldogs. Ole Miss holds a narrow 17-15 series advantage in games played in Oxford. The Rebels have won the last two meetings in Tad Smith Coliseum, including an 85-76 victory in the 1998-99 season. Georgia's last win in Oxford came in the 1994-95 season, a 79-51 victory. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes has a 1-1 record versus Georgia.

The Bulldogs enter Saturday's game with an 8-7 overall record and a 1-1 Southeastern Conference mark. Georgia dropped its SEC opener at Kentucky, 67-63 Jan. 6, but bounced back with a thrilling 85-80 overtime victory over Auburn in Athens, Ga., Jan. 10. Junior guard D.A. Layne leads four Bulldogs players in double figures with a 15.5 average. Anthony Evans (11.3 ppg), Ezra Williams (11.1 ppg) and Shon Coleman (10.7 ppg) are also averaging double digits. The Evans-Coleman tandem leads Georgia on the boards. Evans is the squad's top rebounder with a 7.1 average, while Coleman is second at 6.5 rpg. The Bulldogs are shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 31.6 percent from the three-point arc and 66.9 percent from the charity stripe. Georgia is out-rebounding its opponents by an average of 6.4 boards per game (40.5-34.1).

Ole Miss will be playing its Southeastern Conference home opener Saturday versus the Georgia Bulldogs. The Rebels opened their SEC schedule on the road for the third consecutive year, playing at Vanderbilt Jan. 6 (an 81-68 Ole Miss win). Ole Miss was one of four SEC schools to open its league schedule on the road the last three years. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee were the other SEC schools to do so. The Rebels also played at Arkansas Jan. 10 (a 53-48 Ole Miss win) and was one of three SEC teams to play its first two league games on the road in 2000-01. Alabama and Florida also had their first two SEC games on the road.

The Rebels have an overall record of 33-34 (.493 winning percentage) in Southeastern Conference home openers. Ole Miss has won four of its last six SEC home openers. Last season, the Rebels lost to nationally-ranked Florida, 75-71. Prior to that setback, Ole Miss had won three straight SEC home openers, with its last SEC home-opening victory a 78-60 win over Alabama in the 1998-99 season.

Yes, the school-record 29-game homecourt winning streak came to an end in the 1998-99 season, but Tad Smith Coliseum (a.k.a. the "Tad Pad") is still one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. Ole Miss has won 71 of its last 78 games (.910 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 15 and 29 games. The Rebels are 8-0 at Tad Smith Coliseum this season. Ole Miss also owns the third longest homecourt winning streak versus non-conference opponents in the nation at 43 straight (Maryland is first at 75 straight). In the past nine seasons (1992-present), Ole Miss has an overall home record of 99-28 (.780 winning percentage).

With their victory over No. 14-ranked Oklahoma Dec. 2, the Rebels posted their 300th victory in Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss has an all-time record of 304-154 (.664 winning percentage) at the "Tad Pad." Tad Smith Coliseum opened in the 1965-66 season.

The Rebels and the Bulldogs have not played any common opponents yet this year, but the two teams do have something in common. Ole Miss and Georgia are the only two Southeastern Conference teams to play three of their first four league games on the road. Ole Miss played at Vanderbilt (81-68 Rebel win) Jan. 6 and at Arkansas (53-48 Rebel win) Jan. 10. After Saturday's home game versus Georgia, Ole Miss will travel to Alabama Jan. 17.

Georgia opened its SEC schedule at Kentucky (67-63 Wildcat win), and after Saturday's game in Oxford, the Bulldogs travel to Florida Jan. 17. The Bulldogs' lone home game during this opening stretch was an 85-80 overtime win over Auburn Jan. 10.

This year's senior class of Jason Flanigan (Little Rock, Ark.) and Rahim Lockhart (Mendenhall, Miss.) and junior redshirt John Engstrom (Paragould, Ark.) are now at the head of all the classes in Ole Miss basketball history. With the Rebels' victory over Arkansas Jan. 10, the 2000-01 senior class has 75 wins, the most victories by a class in a four-year span. The 75 victories surpass the previous mark of 74 wins by the 1998-99 class of Hunter Carpenter, Keith Carter, Jason Smith and Michael White. The 2000-01 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).

The Rebels opened their Southeastern Conference schedule with consecutive road wins at Vanderbilt (81-68) and at Arkansas (53-48). The last time Ole Miss won back-to-back road games in the SEC (at any time during the season) was the 1998-99 campaign when the Rebels won at LSU (82-66) Feb. 3, 1999, and at Florida (79-68) Feb. 6, 1999.

The Rebels opened their Southeastern Conference schedule with consecutive road wins at Vanderbilt (81-68) and at Arkansas (53-48). The last time Ole Miss won its first two SEC games on the road was the 1937-38 season. The Rebels won at Vanderbilt (68-30) Dec. 31, 1937, and at LSU (59-48) Jan. 14, 1938. In fact, Ole Miss won its third straight SEC road game at LSU (47-44) Jan. 15, 1938.

The last time Ole Miss won three straight league road games (at any time during the season) was the 1997-98 campaign. The Rebels won at Kentucky (73-64) Feb. 14, 1998, at LSU (83-57) Feb. 18, 1998, and at Mississippi State (82-78) Feb. 21, 1998. The Rebels won their second straight SEC Western Division title that year.

With a win over Georgia Saturday, Ole Miss would begin SEC play with a 3-0 record. The last time the Rebels began the SEC slate with a 3-0 mark was the 1997-98 campaign when they opened with wins over South Carolina (73-54), Florida (90-79) and Alabama (74-63). Ole Miss went on to win its second straight SEC Western Division title that season.

Senior Jason Holmes (Tylertown, Miss.) proved he is more than just a three-point threat in the Rebels' 53-48 victory over Arkansas Jan. 10. The 6-foot-5 guard grabbed a career-high nine boards in the win, besting his previous high of six rebounds versus VCU earlier this year. Holmes is averaging 2.5 rebounds per contest this season (37 total boards), and has nearly equalled his rebound total (44) of a year ago. Holmes, who is shooting 42.1 percent from the three-point line, also hit a couple of key second-half three-pointers versus the Razorbacks Jan. 10.

Sophomore Emmanuel Wade (Marianna, Ark.) came up with a big half of basketball for the Rebels in the second half of their victory over Arkansas Jan. 10. The 6-foot-3 guard, who also goes by "Manny," was held scoreless and had no boards in the first half. However, that changed after intermission. Wade scored six points and grabbed a career-high tying five boards in the second half to help propel the Rebels to the win. Wade netted the Rebels' first six points of the second half, and then grabbed three huge rebounds in the closing minutes. This season, he is averaging 4.6 points and 1.5 rebounds.

With its victory over Arkansas Jan. 10, Ole Miss improved its record to 14-1. The 14-1 start is the best in the program's history since the 1925-26 team started its season 15-1. The 1925-26 team finished with a 16-2 record. The 1997-98 and 1999-2000 Rebel squads began their seasons with 12-1 records.

No, Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is not celebrating his 50th birthday (not even close for the 35-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 53-28. 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.

Early or late, presents are always welcome. In the case of Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes, he got one present early and one late. Coach Barnes celebrated his 35th birthday Jan. 8. He received an early birthday present when the Rebels won at Vanderbilt (81-68) Jan. 6, and then got a late one when Ole Miss won at Arkansas (53-48) Jan. 10.

Although he celebrated his 35th birthday Jan. 8, Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is still among the youngest Division I-A head coaches in the country. According to research compiled by the NCAA prior to the 2000-01 season, Barnes was the 19th youngest head coach (in terms of birthdate) and was tied for the 10th-youngest (in terms of age) in the nation with 10 others.

In the years from 1996-99, Ole Miss fans got an early sense the Rebels would win the game when guard Michael White would hit a couple of three-pointers in the game's opening minutes. Well, that mantle has been passed to sophomore Richard Kirklin (Pine Bluff, Ark.). The 6-foot-9 forward hit the first five points, including a three-pointer, for the Rebels versus Vanderbilt Jan. 6. Ole Miss went on to win the game, 81-68. Kirklin, who received his first start of the season versus the Commodores, finished the contest with eight points and four boards.

It must have been deja vu for Vanderbilt because Kirklin also hit the game-opening basket - a three-pointer - last year versus the Commodores. Ole Miss won that contest, 75-67.

However, Kirklin has also hit key three-pointers for the Rebels other than those at the beginning of the games. He had two crucial treys in the first half of Ole Miss' 84-83 overtime win over Southern Cal Dec. 22. Kirklin also nailed a clutch second-half three-pointer in the Rebels' 60-55 victory over Oklahoma Dec. 2.

Maybe freshman Justin Reed (Jackson, Miss.) should be "under the weather" more often. No, we're just kidding. But, after missing most of practice last week due to illness, Reed came off the bench versus the Commodores to net a career-high 19 points in leading the Rebels to the 81-68 victory. It was the first time this season that Reed did not start. Reed also hit a career-best five free throws and tied a career high with seven field goals.

The 6-foot-8 forward also grabbed seven boards and had one assist and two steals. For the season, Reed is the squad's second-leading scorer (10.0 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (5.3 rpg).

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.

Ole Miss will be making its ninth television appearance of the year Saturday when the Rebels meet Georgia on ESPN. Saturday's game is the first of five consecutive television appearances for the Rebels in the month of January. The Rebels have 14 scheduled television appearances in 2000-01. This season, Ole Miss is 7-1 in television games, with the lone loss coming to Iowa State in the championship game of the Yahoo! Sports Invitational Dec. 23. The Rebels have appeared on television over 40 times the past four seasons. Last year, Ole Miss had 11 television contests, and posted a 6-5 record in those games.

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 11-2 record. Baylor was the final school to have both its men's and women's teams undefeated, but both lost this week in Big 12 Conference play.

After tying his career high for three-pointers made (three) seven previous imes, Jason Flanigan 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.

Despite his 0-for-3 performance versus Arkansas Jan. 10, senior Jason Flanigan has definitely found his range from the three-point arc in recent games. In the Rebels' last six games, the 6-foot-1 guard is shooting 52 percent (13-of-25) from the arc. Flanigan is second in the SEC in three-point field goal percentage at 48 percent.

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 seven contests. The Rebels hit a school-record 14 treys versus Troy State, nine versus Southern Illinois and Southern Cal, seven versus Iowa State, 10 versus Morris Brown and Vanderbilt and six versus Arkansas. Over those seven games, the Rebels have hit 9.29 treys per contest. Ole Miss is also hitting 42.2 percent from the arc in those seven games.

Junior Jason Harrison (Little Rock, Ark.) has put his name on the Ole Miss career three-pointers made list. The 5-foot-5 guard jumped into the top five with his two treys versus Troy State Dec. 18, and now is in the No. 4 spot with 91. Up next for Harrison is Joezon Darby (1996-98), who is No. 3 with 131 career treys. This season, Harrison is shooting 43.8 percent from the three-point line.

The "Provine Posse" of sophomore David Sanders (Jackson, Miss.) and freshmen Aaron Harper (Jackson, Miss.) and Justin Reed came up big again for the Rebels in the win over Vanderbilt Jan. 6. Reed led the team with 19 points, while Sanders hit 6-of-7 from the foul line, including four straight in the final four minutes. Harper added five points, four rebounds and four assists in the win.

It was the third game this year that the "Posse" shined. The trio, led by Reed's double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, helped Ole Miss to an 88-84 overtime win at VCU Nov. 25. One week later (Dec. 2), the trio combined to score 38 of the Rebels' 60 points in a win over Oklahoma (60-55). Harper led the way with 18 points versus the Sooners.

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.

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 66.2 percent from the foul line for the season, but more importantly, the Rebels are hitting their foul shots down the stretch. In their wins over Sam Houston State, VCU, Oklahoma, Memphis, Southern Illinois, Southern Cal, Vanderbilt and Arkansas, the Rebels shot 72.3 percent from the line (68-of-94) in the final four minutes (and overtime) of those games.

The Rebels have a 20-35 regular-season record versus teams from the SEC Eastern Division since the conference began divisional play in the 1991-92 season. Ole Miss is 23-42 versus the SEC Eastern Division teams, including tournament play.

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 80-9 record (.899 winning percentage) when it scores 70 points or more. On the other hand, the Rebels are 14-35 when they net less than 70 points during that five-year period (including 2000-01). This season, Ole Miss has a 9-0 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 5-1 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 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 61.5 points per game, which is tops in the Southeastern Conference.

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 640 career rebounds, after grabbing eight boards versus Arkansas Jan. 10. Lockhart is in the No. 10 spot on the Ole Miss career rebounding list, and needs 32 more rebounds to take over the No. 9 spot currently held by Jason Smith (1996-99, 671 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 one block versus Arkansas Jan. 10, he now has 112 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.

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.

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.

Senior Rahim Lockhart 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 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.

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.



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