Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 15, 2004
GAME #14: Ole Miss (8-5, 0-2 SEC) vs. Arkansas (8-6, 0-3 SEC)
OLE MISS CONTINUES SEC WEST ROAD SWING AT ARKANSAS: Ole Miss travels to Arkansas Saturday in one of five straight SEC West encounters for the Rebels to open league play. Both teams are in search of their first conference victory of the season. The Rebels lost to Auburn on the Plains last time out. Against the Tigers, Justin Reed, the SEC's second-leading scorer, posted his seventh 20-point game of the season and topped the team in both points (20) and rebounds (6) for the eighth time. The Rebels had their six-game win streak snapped to Mississippi State, 61-54, in their league opener last week.
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 108-66 record (.621 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 ARKANSAS: Like the Rebels, the Razorbacks are also looking for their first SEC victory after opening league play with losses to LSU and on the road at Mississippi State and at Alabama. Senior forward Billy Pharis, a transfer from SMU, led the Arkansas offense in the first two conference games with 21 and 18, respectively. However, sophomore forward Jonathon Modica has topped the 'Backs in scoring in 10 of the 14 games and boasts a team-best 18.1 average. Guard Ronnie Brewer has been among the SEC's top freshmen, averaging 12.7 points and ranking among the league leaders in rebounds (6.5), assists (3.79) and steals (2.00). As a team, Arkansas is among the conference's best in three-point field goals (7.00 per game) and turnover margin (+2.86). UA head coach Stan Heath is in his second year at the helm and returns eight letterwinners and two starters from last year's 9-19 squad that tied for fifth in the SEC West.
OLE MISS-ARKANSAS SERIES: Saturday's game will the 53rd meeting between the two schools, with the Razorbacks holding an all-time series lead of 34-18. The series began in 1937. Since Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference in the 1991-92 season, the Rebels lead the series 13-11. Ole Miss has won seven straight and 10 of the last 12 meetings versus the Razorbacks. Arkansas holds a 10-6 series lead in games played in Fayetteville, but Ole Miss has won five of the last seven encounters in Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas' last win in the series came in the 1999-2000 season, a 71-64 victory on Jan. 5, 2000. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 9-1 versus Arkansas and 4-1 against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Justin Reed averaged 16 points in last year's two meetings with Arkansas.
QUOTING BARNES ON ARKANSAS: "Arkansas is a team that is getting better every night. They play a lot of people, which can cause some problems for us. Both of us are battling and trying to get that first SEC win. It should be a great basketball game. I'm trying to impress upon my new guys how hard it is and how much you have to focus in order to win a game in the SEC. Hopefully some of our veterans can step up and carry their confidence over to the new guys, because they've had such good success in Fayetteville in the past."
HAVEN'T WE MET BEFORE?: Saturday's game between Arkansas and Ole Miss is the third time Rod Barnes and Stan Heath will face each other as head coaches, but before these contests, the two were on opposing benches once before. Back in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, Barnes, then the Rebels' 1st-year head coach, guided Ole Miss to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament where it played Michigan State. Heath was an assistant on that Spartan coaching staff. Michigan State won a hard-fought 74-66 game, and went on to advance to the Final Four.
ARKANSAS REBELS: Little Rock native Bam Doyne may be the only current Rebel from Arkansas, but Ole Miss certainly holds a strong connection with the nearby western state. The Rebels have sported 12 Arkansas natives on their roster under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), including such Ole Miss notables as Jason Smith (Wheatley), Keith Carter (Perryville), Jason Flannigan (Little Rock) and Jason Harrison (Little Rock). Also, two of Ole Miss' fall signees are from Arkansas - Jeremy Parnell, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward/center from Gosnell, and Brandon Patterson, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound swingman from Altheimer.
REED NEARING ELITE CLUB: With just four 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. With his 20 points at Auburn, Reed moved over the 1,500 plateau for his career, making him the ninth Ole Miss player to reach that mark. With 667 rebounds in the Red and Blue, Reed is nearing the top 10 in boards. He is currently 11th in Rebel career rebounding and four 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 (12.7). The Rebels are also second in the conference in TO margin (+3.15). 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 seven of the 13 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.
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 fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (60.5 per game).
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 12 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.
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 13, 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.
TURNING THE SHIP AROUND: After a 2-3 start, the Rebels have reversed their fortunes and won six of their last eight. Compared to its first five games, Ole Miss has improved over the last eight in field goal percentage by seven percent (41.3 to 47.5), three-point percentage by more than five percent (30.4 to 35.9) and scoring defense by six points (64.2 to 58.2). 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' 6-2 record over the last eight games 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 eight games, averaging 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and shooting 63.3 percent. The junior transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas posted his second double-double as a Rebel against Mississippi State 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.
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 17 20-point games.
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 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.
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 108-66. 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.
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