Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 18, 2005
Game 18: Ole Miss (11-6, 2-2) vs. #8 Kentucky (12-2, 3-0)
TUBBY SMITH TO SPEAK TO OLE MISS TIP-OFF CLUB: Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith will speak at the Ole Miss Tip-Off Club luncheon, Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 12:30 p.m. at the Downtown Oxford Inn and Suites. Tickets are $15 for Tip-Off Club Members, and $25 for non-members. For tickets, go to www.tipoffclub.com.
REBS RETURN HOME FOR TOP-25 FOES: A winner in nine of its last 11 games, Ole Miss opens a two-game SEC homestand against top-25 foes with No. 8 Kentucky Wednesday. The Rebels begin the week third in the Western Division standings and in search of a third straight SEC victory. After an 0-2 start to league play, Ole Miss evened its record with a 79-72 road win at Auburn Saturday. The victory snapped a nine-game SEC road losing streak, and improved the Rebels to 3-1 overall in their last three contests away from home. Senior forward Marvin Moore doubled his career highs with 23 points and 12 rebounds at Auburn, while junior forward and leading scorer Londrick Nolen dropped in 18 second-half points en route to his third 20-point performance of the season with 21.
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 124-82 record. Barnes' 124 coaching victories in his first 206 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .602 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 KENTUCKY: Despite losing three starters from last year's 27-5 team, Kentucky has powered its way into the nation's top 10 with a 12-2 record, with the losses coming to No. 9 North Carolina and No. 2 Kansas. The Wildcats are off to a 3-0 start in league play and coming off a 76-55 road win at Georgia. The UK defense has ranked among the SEC's best, holding opponents to 58.1 points per game and 38.8 percent shooting while forcing 19.6 turnovers. Forwards Kelenna Azubuike and Chuck Hayes have led the offense at 14.4 and 11.9 points per game, respectively, Hayes, a senior, recently topped the 1,000-point plateau for his career and is the conference's No. 2 rebounder at 9.6 per outing. Patrick Sparks, a junior transfer from Western Kentucky, has made an immediate impact for the Big Blue with averages of 11.6 points and 5.1 assists.
OLE MISS-KENTUCKY SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 102nd meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats hold an 90-11 lead in the series, which began in 1925. However, the Wildcats hold a narrow 5-3 edge over the Rebels in their last eight regular-season meetings, including last year's 71-61 UK win in Lexington. Kendrick Fox provided 4-of-5 threes off the bench, and the Rebels trailed by only five with 2:14 remaining (see page 6). Kentucky holds a 25-8 series advantage in games played in Oxford, but the teams have split their last four encounters in Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss defeated Kentucky 65-55 in Oxford in the 2000-01 campaign, but lost the 2002-03 matchup 65-55. Rebel head coach Rod Barnes is 1-7 versus Kentucky and 1-2 versus the Wildcats in Tad Smith Coliseum.
SEC GOOD WORKS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior forward Kendrick Fox has been named the SEC Good Works Team Player of the Week. The Oxford native participates in "Reading with the Rebels", where Ole Miss players read to elementary school students. He helped conduct a "Bingo Night" at the Azalea Gardens nursing home and joined his teammates in visiting the Alpha House, a homeless youth shelter in Tupelo. He has also taken part in a canned food drive for the underprivileged during the holidays.
SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT: In Saturday's win at Auburn, Ole Miss shot an amazing 64.4 percent from the field -- the team's highest field goal percentage in an SEC game during the Rod Barnes era and the best overall since posting a 68.2 clip against Morris Brown in 2001-02. It marked the third time this season the Rebels have shot better than 60 percent from the field and the seventh time to fire at better than 50 percent. For the season, Ole Miss is tied for fourth in the SEC in field goal percentage at 47.6
MARVELOUS MARVIN: In Saturday's victory at Auburn, senior forward Marvin Moore displayed the talents that made him one of the nation's top juco players at Southern Union Community College, where he averaged 23.1 points and 9.9 rebounds as a sophomore. Returning to his home state, Moore lit up the Tigers for 23 points and 12 boards, doubling his previous career highs in the Red and Blue. Making only his third career start, Moore recorded his first double-double as a Rebel and grabbed all 7 of the team's offensive boards. He also provided a big boost off the bench in last Wednesday's win over Georgia with 10 points and four rebounds. Prior to last week when he shot 72.2 percent (13-for-18), Moore had notched only one previous double-digit scoring outing -- 10 points in his Rebel debut against Arkansas State last year.
BENCH POINTS: The Rebel bench has made the difference in the current two-game win streak. Ole Miss has outscored the opposition 55-18 in bench points in the last two games. Against Georgia, Todd Abernethy and Marvin Moore came off the pine to be the Rebels' top two scorers with 13 and 10, respectively. At Auburn, Londrick Nolen was the super sub with 21 points along with 9 boards, while Abernethy followed with 7 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
FAMILY TIES: Wednesday's game will certainly be a special one for Ole Miss freshman Brian Smith, as he will be opposing his famous father for the first time. The youngest son of UK coach Tubby Smith, Brian is the first of the three sons to not play for his dad. G.G. Smith was a 1998 All-SEC pick and four-year guard at Georgia 1996-99, while Saul started at the point on three SEC Champion Kentucky squads and played for the Wildcats 1998-2001.
BEASTS ON THE BOARDS: Ole Miss has been tough on the boards of late, outrebounding the opposition in seven of the last 11 games, including a 32-24 advantage in Saturday's win at Auburn. The Rebels enjoyed a 42-29 edge on the boards at Arkansas. Ole Miss is 9-1 this season when outrebounding its opponent.
J.J. HEATS UP: Justin Johnson has provided the Rebels a big spark of late. The senior forward is averaging 9.0 points and 2.3 steals over the last three games. In Saturday's win at Auburn, Johnson keyed the Rebels' 19-6 game-winning run in the second half with three three-pointers in a 4:16 span. He finished with 11 points, all in the second stanza, in posting his fourth double-digit game of the season.
OLE MISS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Ole Miss faces its second nationally-ranked opponent of the year Wednesday in Kentucky, tabbed No. 8 by both the AP and USA Today/ESPN. In their only other matchup with a ranked foe, the Rebels lost to No. 18 Mississippi State 87-76 on Jan. 8. Ole Miss was 1-3 against top-25 foes last season and notched a 79-68 win over No. 23 South Carolina. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since the 1998-99 season), the Rebels are 20-28 record vs. ranked opponents.
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 has started all but one game, and has filled the stat line in the process. Nolen currently tops the Rebels in scoring (13.0), rebounding (5.1) and blocks (13) and is second in steals (21). His 51.5 percent shooting is second on the team and top-10 in the SEC. Nolen has scored in double-figures in 12 of the last 14 games with three 20-point outings, including 21 against Auburn Saturday when he dropped in 18 second-half points. Nolen notched his first double-double in the Red and Blue with 19 points and 12 rebounds at Arkansas. Facing UL-Monroe, he notched 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.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: It has been Rod Barnes' trademark defense that has spurred the Rebels' turnaround, winning nine of their last 11 games. The Rebels rank fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (62.4). Ole Miss has pressured four opponents into 21 or more turnovers, including Georgia last 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.
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 11 games ago, the sophomore guard has posted six double-figure scoring outings and five 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 six games.
"TAD PAD" SWEET "TAD PAD": The "Tad Pad" has proven to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. The Rebels boasted a 12-5 home record last season and are 6-2 so far in 2004-05. Ole Miss has won 110 of its last 132 games (.833 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 29, 20 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 352-169 (.676 winning percentage) at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season. In head coach Rod Barnes' era, the Rebels have a home record of 82-21 (.796 winning percentage), including a 35-17 homecourt record against SEC foes (.673 winning percentage).
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Ole Miss makes its second of three straight TV appearances Wednesday against Kentucky on JP Sports. The Rebels have at least 10 televised contests on the 2004-05 docket. With Saturday's 79-72 victory at Auburn on FSN South, the Rebels are 1-2 in TV games, having dropped nail-bitters 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 82 television games and has a 43-39 record in those matchups.
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 9-2 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 the 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 (1.76).
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