Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 14, 2005
Game 17: Ole Miss (10-6, 1-2) vs. Auburn (9-6, 0-2)
OLE MISS LOOKS TO EVEN SEC MARK AT AUBURN: Winners in eight of their last 10 games, the Rebels look to even their SEC record Saturday at Auburn. Ole Miss earned its first conference victory Wednesday with a 59-54 home win over Georgia. Sophomore guard Todd Abernethy came off the bench for his fourth double-figure scoring outing in the last five games with a team-high 13 points. Reserve senior forward Marvin Moore followed with 10 points, matching his career high, as the Rebels outscored the Bulldogs 26-8 in bench points. Ole Miss is 2-1 in its last three road games.
BARNES IN SEVENTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in his seventh season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and recently took the bench for his 200th game as a head coach. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 123-82 record. Barnes' 123 coaching victories in his first 205 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .600 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of seven years or more.
In 2000-01, Barnes was the Southeastern Conference 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 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 five-game win streak, Auburn has dropped six of its last 10, including two straight to open SEC play. The Tigers fell short in an upset bid of Florida Wednesday, 84-78 in overtime. Coping with a lack of size and depth, first-year head coach Jeff Lebo has looked primarily to seven players -- six guards and a small forward. Freshman guard Toney Douglas has thrived in the up-tempo style, and is currently the SEC scoring leader at 19.7 points per game. The only returning starters from last year's 14-14 team are senior guards Ian Young and Nathan Watson, who are averaging 15.9 and 10.5 points respectively. Young is also among the SEC leaders in scoring, assists, threes made, three-point percentage and free throw percentage. Senior forward Quinnel Brown, the club's tallest contributor at 6-foot-6, has been solid in his first season as a full-time starter, posting 13.7 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds. Brown is one six letterwinners on the AU roster.
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 109th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 66-42. The teams have split the last 10 encounters in the series, which began in 1927. Last year, the home team prevailed in each game with Auburn winning 80-53 on the Plains, and Ole Miss snapping a four-game skid to the Tigers 72-68 in Oxford. (see page 6). The Tigers hold a commanding 44-8 series lead in games played in Auburn. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 5-7 versus Auburn and 1-5 against the Tigers on the Plains.
QUOTING BARNES: (On facing Auburn) "We are definitely feeling better about ourselves after a tough game with Georgia. Your first concern with Auburn is Toney Douglas. I think depth has been a factor with them, but they play a good brand of basketball. Every game we play will be a challenge for us."
(On Auburn's offensive game plan) "All of their guys are capable of being on the perimeter, and they are quicker than most teams. It's hard to prepare for them. It may not hurt us as much, because we have a lot of perimeter players too. It is a better matchup for us than other teams in the league."
(On Toney Douglas) "The closest guy I can compare him to is Tony White from Tennessee. Not only can Douglas shoot the three, he has a mid-range jumper that you don't see much anymore."
SUPER SUB: Since stepping into the sixth man role, Todd Abernethy has kept providing the Rebels consistency and production off the bench. Since becoming a sub for the first time in his career 10 games ago, the sophomore guard has posted six double-figure scoring outings and four games with four or more assists. Against Mississippi State, Abernethy equaled his season-high for assists with 6 to go with 11 points and 4 boards. The Carmel, Ind., native topped Ole Miss in scoring in the victory over Georgia with 13 points -- his fourth double-digit performance in his last five games.
TIGER TIES: Two members of the Rebel family have close ties with Western Division rival Auburn. Ole Miss first-year assistant coach Tracy Dildy spent the previous two seasons as an assistant on the Plains and served as assistant head coach for recruiting in 2003-04. Also arriving in Oxford this year via Auburn was sophomore center Dwayne Curtis, who transferred to Ole Miss in May. Curtis, who is ineligible this season by NCAA transfer rules, played in 19 games, starting five, for the Tigers last year. Curtis will begin playing with the Rebels in 2005-06 with three years of eligibility remaining.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: It has been Rod Barnes' trademark defense that has spurred the Rebels' turnaround, winning eight of their last 10 games. The Rebels rank fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (61.8). Ole Miss has pressured four opponents into 21 or more turnovers, including Georgia Wednesday night (21). The Rebels, who tallied 12 steals, also held UGA sophomore guard Levi Stukes, the SEC's fourth-leading scorer, to no field goals (0-for-8) and four points --13 below his average. Ole Miss handcuffed the Bulldogs to 33.3 percent from the field, in one of four times this season an opponent has been held in the 30s in shooting percentage.
Ole Miss contained Southeastern Louisiana to 48 points, marking the second time this season and 27th time in Barnes' seven years at the helm that the opposition was held under 50 points. Ole Miss managed the feat six times in 2003-04.
The Rebels forced Tennessee Tech into 25 turnovers and limited Willie Jenkins, a CollegeInsider.com Preseason All-American, to two points.
CAPTAIN CAVADAS: Senior point guard and one of three team captains, Cavadas Nunnery has been a catalyst in the Rebels' recent success. Since entering the starting lineup for the first time in his career at Memphis, Ole Miss has posted a 8-2 record. In the win over the Tigers, the Magnolia, Miss., native responded with a career-high 10 points and 5 rebounds along with 5 assists. Nunnery was 3-for-4 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. He also did an outstanding defensive job on Tiger star guard Darius Washington, forcing the former prep All-American into 8 turnovers. Nunnery secured Wednesday's victory over Georgia with a steal, two key rebounds and a clinching free throw all in the final 30 seconds. He finished with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Against Mississippi State, he totaled 6 points and 6 assists. Nunnery recorded a game-high 6 assists with only one turnover vs. Nicholls State, and totaled 5 points, 5 assists and 3 steals vs. Southeastern Louisiana. Nunnery ranks sixth in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (1.71).
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Ole Miss makes the third of at least 10 TV appearances this season Saturday at Auburn with the game aired by FSN South. The Rebels dropped nail-bitters in their first two TV bouts, falling to Florida State 69-64 (FSN) and to Mississippi State 87-76 (JP). Under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), Ole Miss has played 81 television games and has a 42-39 record in those matchups.
AWESOME EDDIE: Tommie Eddie's game-winning trey at VCU -- his first three-point attempt as a Rebel -- may have been the most memorable shot, but the senior forward has turned in several outstanding performances through the first half of the season. Eddie has shot a spectacular 62.6 percent, and posted six games of 17 or more points, including last Saturday's 17-point outing on 6-of-7 shooting vs. Mississippi State. The Brooklyn native dropped in the Rebels' first 10 points in the 65-53 road win over Memphis and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and a career-high four assists. Eddie enjoyed perhaps his best game as a Rebel in the victory over Tennessee Tech, shooting a flawless 8-for-8 from the field en route to a career-high 24 points. Defensively, the Brooklyn native was also stellar against the Golden Eagles, registering a career-best four steals while helping limit Preseason OVC Player of the Year Willie Jenkins to two points. Eddie followed up the TTU game with another excellent outing at Arkansas State, with 18 points and eight boards. Against UL-Monroe, he was 8-of-11 for 17 points and vs. UT-Martin, he made 9-of-11 for 20. If Eddie averaged 0.5 field goals more per game, he would be the SEC leader in shooting percentage.
MR. DO-IT-ALL: Some people think they can do everything, and newcomer Londrick Nolen is proving he can. The junior forward from Southwest Tennessee Community College is the only player to start every game, and has filled the stat line in the process. Nolen currently tops the Rebels in scoring (12.5), rebounding (4.9) and blocks (11) and is second in steals (21). His 50.6 percent shooting is second on the team and top-10 in the SEC. Nolen has scored in double-figure in 11 of the last 13 games, and notched his first double-double in the Red and Blue with 19 points and 12 rebounds at Arkansas. Facing UL-Monroe, he turned in a season-high 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 threes, with five assists. Nolen tallied a team-best 21 points and 5-of-7 treys at Arkansas State. He posted 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against Troy.
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