Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 19, 2006
Game 17: Ole Miss (13-3, 3-0) vs. Georgia (11-6, 1-3)
OLE MISS TAKES 3-0 RECORD TO GEORGIA: After taking Wednesday off, SEC Western Division leader Ole Miss puts its perfect league record on the line Saturday at Georgia. Riding a seven-game win streak, the Rebels are off to their first 3-0 SEC start since 1997-98 and are 13-3 for the first time since 2001-02. The Rebels snapped an eight-game skid to Mississippi State Saturday with a 75-65 victory in Oxford. Junior guard Todd Abernethy scored 17 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, hit 4-of-7 3-pointers and handed out 5 assists. Sophomore center Dwayne Curtis punched in double-figures for the 12th time in the last 14 games with 17 points along with 8 rebounds.
BARNES APPROACHES COACHING RECORD: Rod Barnes is in his eighth season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and is five 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 140-96 record. Barnes' 140 coaching victories in his first 236 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span. His .593 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 Rob 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 BULLDOGS: After a 10-3 non-conference season that saw wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson, Georgia has opened league play with a 1-3 mark and coming off a 69-55 home loss to Kentucky on Tuesday. Under the leadership of third-year head coach Dennis Felton, the Bulldogs returned 10 lettermen from last year's 8-20 team. The UGA roster is the second-youngest in the SEC with 11 underclassmen, including four in the starting lineup. The lone veteran is leading scorer Levi Stukes. The junior guard is averaging 12.2 points and ranks top-5 in the SEC in 3-pointers (2.53) and 3-point percentage (.453). Sophomore guard Sundiata Gaines is posting 10.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while freshman guard Mike Mercer is dropping in 11.3 points off the bench. Sophomore Channing Toney is the fourth Bulldog in double-digit scoring at 10.1 and the third guard in the starting lineup.
OLE MISS-GEORGIA SERIES: Saturday's game is the 99th meeting between the two schools, with Georgia holding a 63-35 lead in the series. The Bulldogs have a 36-9 edge in games played in Athens. Ole Miss snapped a five-game skid in the series with last year's 59-54 victory in Oxford (see page 6). The Rebels have dropped five straight at Stegeman Coliseum and last won 85-69 during the 1993-94 season. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 2-5 against Georgia and 0-3 vs. the Bulldogs in Athens.
A CLOSE SERIES OF LATE: Although both schools have their own rivals (Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Georgia-Florida) and usually only play once a season, you would almost think the Rebels and Bulldogs have a rivalry going from all the tight games the two programs have had in recent years. In the 10 meetings between the two schools since the 1996-97 season, the average margin of victory has been only 6.5 points (65 total points), and nine of the last 10 games have been decided by single digits. UGA holds a narrow 6-4 edge in those 10 encounters.
IN THE POLLS: Ole Miss is receiving votes in this week's Associated Press top-25 national poll. With seven votes, Ole Miss is the third of six SEC vote getters, while Florida sits at No. 2. The last time the Rebels were ranked was in the final 2000-01 polls, when they appeared as high as No. 9 in the USA Today/ESPN rankings.
THE LAST TIME ... : The last time Ole Miss began Southeastern Conference play 4-0 was the 1936-37 season, when the Rebels began 5-0 with two wins over LSU, two over Tulane and one over Mississippi State. Ole Miss has never opened its league schedule with a 6-0 record.
GOING STREAKING: Opening the conference slate with three straight victories, the Rebels have run their current win streak to seven. The seven-game streak matches the longest since opening the 2000-01 campaign with 11 straight victories. Ole Miss also won seven in a row last year and in 2001-02.
REBELS AMONG TEAM LEADERS IN SEC PLAY: With a 3-0 record, Ole Miss sits atop the SEC Western Division standings as well as several statistical categories. Below is how the Rebels rank in SEC games only:
D.C. PRESIDES OVER REBEL CHARGE: In his first season in the Red and Blue, Dwayne Curtis has been a force for the Rebels this year and is coming off a recent stretch of four straight 20-point games. The 6-foot-8, 290-pound center lit up Southeastern Louisiana for 23 points and 9 rebounds. He followed up with a career-high 25 points with 9 rebounds and 2 steals against Alcorn State, and totaled 21 points, 6 boards and 3 steals vs. Western Carolina. Curtis capped the streak with 21 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in directing the Rebels to their first win at Alabama since 1997-98. The performance earned him SEC Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. For the season, Curtis has scored in double-figures in 12 of 16 games with six 20-point outings and three double-doubles. He posted 18 points and 12 rebounds against South Carolina State. The Chicago native scorched 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 (14.6), rebounding (7.5), steals (1.5) and blocks (0.9). He is also third in assists (1.8).
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. After scoring 10 or more points only three times in his first two seasons, Doyne has notched double-figures eight times this year and topped Ole Miss in scoring in four games including his 23-point effort against South Carolina. He tallied a career-high 9 rebounds with 5 assists against the Gamecocks and hit 2 key free throws with 9 ticks left. Doyne reached the 20-point plateau for the first time in his career earlier this season against Arkansas State, striking for 24 with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and drilling 4-of-4 free throws in the final 41 seconds to seal the win. 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 (10.6), rebounds (4.8), assists (2.9) and steals (1.1).
CAPTAIN TODD: After being winless in his first four career games against Mississippi State, junior guard Todd Abernethy took charge in leading the Rebels past the rival Bulldogs Saturday. The two-year team captain turned in his first career 20-point game with a career-high 22 along with 5 assists. Abernethy pumped in 17 in the second half and 7 in the final three minutes. His fourth 3-pointer of the game with 39 seconds left squashed MSU's final rallying efforts and ended the eight-game skid to the Dogs. Abernethy finished 4-of-7 from behind the arc against State and raised his season percentage to .475 (30-of-65) and .500 (6-of-12) in SEC play. The Carmel, Ind., native drilled 4-of-6 against Centenary and connected on 3-of-4 vs. Nicholls and Southern Utah.
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:
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. Nationally-ranked Memphis was held 17 points below its scoring average. The Rebels contained Alabama to 38.2 percent shooting and South Carolina to 34.5, making five opponents this season to be held in the 30s from the field. The Gamecocks were also limited to 2-of-19 (.105) from 3-point range. The Rebels currently rank second in the SEC in 3-point percentage defense at .313 and first in SEC play at an astonishing .196. The Red and Blue is also No. 1 in overall field goal percentage in conference play (.404). Ole Miss is forcing 16.3 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.
"O"-RRIVAL: The Ole Miss offense took some major steps forward this season. The Rebels are currently averaging 70.8 points per game, which is 7.0 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 46.5. 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 six games, including against South Carolina, and in the 60s twice.
CHARITABLE STRIPE: Ole Miss is also having an improved season from the free throw line, connecting on 224-of-334 for a 67.1 percentage. That figure is the Rebels' highest free throw clip since shooting 72.6 percent in 2002-03. Ole Miss is shooting 73.9 percent (65-of-88) over the last four games and ranks third in the SEC in league play. At Alabama, Ole Miss connected on 21-of-26 attempts for an 80.8 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 82.4 this year. Todd Abernethy is hitting 75.0 percent, while Bam Doyne boasts a 71.7 free throw percentage.
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 1.3 rebounding edge this year and has outrebounded 9-of-16 opponents -- winning all nine games. The Rebels are also averaging 3.7 blocked shots per game, a considerable increase from last year's 2.0 average.
YOUTH IS SERVED: The Rebels boast a young roster this year with five freshmen and five sophomores wearing the Red and Blue. In fact, Ole Miss is the third-youngest team in the SEC and 25th in the nation, based on the players' class athletically.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Ole Miss makes its fourth of 10 appearances this season on a major carrier Saturday against Georgia on FSN South/Sun Sports. The Rebels also faced Memphis and Alabama on FSN and have one more game scheduled on the network this year -- at Auburn (2/25). Last Saturday's win over Mississippi State was televised by JP Sports. In addition, Ole Miss has played twice on local TV, matching up with UIC on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and Saint Louis on Charter Communications (St. Louis). This season will mark the eighth straight year that the Rebels have appeared on TV 10 or more times. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), Ole Miss has played 93 television games with a 47-46 record.
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