Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Jan. 27, 2004

GAME #17: Ole Miss (10-6, 2-3) vs. #5 Kentucky (13-2, 3-1)
January 28, 2004 * 8 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena * Lexington, Ky.

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MEDIA
TV: JP Sports (Tom Hammond, play-by-play; Larry Conley, color analyst)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Gary Darby, color analyst)

OLE MISS LOOKS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT SEC WIN: Ole Miss looks for its third consecutive Southeastern Conference win Wednesday at No. 5 Kentucky, in the Rebels' first Eastern Division matchup of the year. Ole Miss polished off a perfect week Saturday with a 71-60 home win over Alabama. Justin Reed tied his career high in points with 28 and posted his third double-double of the season. Aaron Harper nailed five three-pointers Saturday to tie the Rebel career record. Harper is averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists over the last three games.

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 110-67 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 KENTUCKY: Kentucky continues its rise in the nation's top 10 after wins at Tennessee and Notre Dame last week. The Wildcats boast four players averaging double-digit points, including senior guard Gerald Fitch at 16.5 per game. Senior guard Cliff Hawkins ranks second in the SEC in both assists (5.20) and steals (2.67). Junior forward Chuck Hayes tops the team in rebounds at 8.8 per game. UK head coach Tubby Smith is in his seventh year at the helm of the Big Blue and returns 11 letterwinners and three starters from last year's 32-4 squad that won the SEC regular-seaon title and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.

OLE MISS-KENTUCKY SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 101st meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats hold an 89-11 lead in the series, which began in 1925. Including SEC Tournament play, Kentucky has won six of the last seven encounters in the series, including an 80-62 win in Oxford last year. However, the Wildcats hold a narrow 4-3 edge over the Rebels in their last seven regular-season meetings. Kentucky enjoys a 42-2 series advantage in games played in Lexington, and the last Ole Miss win was a 73-64 decision in 1998. Rebel head coach Rod Barnes is 1-6 versus Kentucky and 0-2 versus the Wildcats in Rupp Arena.

QUOTING BARNES ON THE GAME: "Our kids have really played well over the last week. Kentucky is a very good basketball team. Going to their place is going to be a tough task for us. They have great leadership ... they're as good as anyone in the country. We have our work cut out for us. But we're a team that has more confidence than we've had all season long. The thing about Kentucky, if you look at their schedule, is that they've played some really tough people. When you've won as much as they've won together, and to do that in our league, that is just remarkable. Whether or not we're playing them, I would still say they're one of the best [teams] in the country. As some of their players improve to give them more depth, everyone is going to see that."

SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Justin Reed was named the SEC Player of the Week Monday. A senior forward from Jackson, Miss., Reed tied his career high with 28 points to lead Ole Miss past Alabama on Saturday. The 28 points was his highest total in an SEC game and moved him into seventh on the Rebel career scoring list. Reed also grabbed 11 rebounds in earning his third double-double of the season. He posted 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds in the Rebels' first SEC victory of the season against LSU, 53-49, last Wednesday. Reed is tied for the SEC lead in scoring (18.6) and is one of only two players to rank top five in the conference in both scoring and rebounding (8.5). This marks the second SEC Player of the Week honor for Reed, who also took home the award as a sophomore on December 10, 2001.

SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK ... PART 2: In addition to Player of the Week honors, Justin Reed has also been recognized by the SEC as the Good Works Team Player of the Week. The senior forward assists young children at schools with the "Reading with the Rebels" program. Reed visits and plays games with senior citizens at local retirement centers, works with children at the Boys Club and a local alternative school. He has also spent time speaking to church youth groups and local schools about faith and life influences.

OLE MISS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Ole Miss will face its second nationally-ranked opponent of the year Wednesday at Kentucky. The Wildcats are ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/Coaches poll. The Rebels came up short to No. 22 Mississippi State, 61-54, on Jan. 7. The Rebels were 2-5 against ranked opponents in 2002-03. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since the 1998-99 season), Ole Miss has a 19-25 record versus ranked opponents. The Rebels faced one top-five team year ago, losing at No. 4/5 Florida, 74-55.

HARPER TIES RECORD: Aaron Harper has now joined Ole Miss great Keith Carter (1996-99) as the Rebels' all-time leader in three-pointers. His five threes against Alabama Saturday tied him atop the list with 249. Harper, a 6-foot-7 swingman, currently ranks third in the SEC in treys (2.38 per game) and sixth in three-point percentage (.376). Harper hit 65 threes in 2002-03, which is the fourth-most for a single season in Ole Miss history.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Wednesday's game at Kentucky, which is being broadcast on Jefferson Pilot Sports, will be the second straight and fourth of at least nine regular-season contests in which the Rebels will be on television this year. Ole Miss is 1-3 in its first three televised games of the season. Last year, the Rebels were 5-7 in TV games. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), Ole Miss has played 72 television games and has a 40-32 record in those contests.

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 over 18 and 15 respectively, is one of only four sets of teammates in the SEC to both rank in the conference's top 13 scorers. They were 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.

 

 

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