Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 29, 2006
Game 20: Ole Miss (13-6, 3-3) vs. #7/8 Florida (18-2, 4-2)
REBELS CONTINUE HOMESTAND WITH GATORS: The Rebels look to move back over the .500 mark in SEC play Tuesday against nationally-ranked Florida. After opening SEC play with three straight wins, Ole Miss had its league record evened at 3-3 with Saturday's 79-73 loss to LSU. The nip-and-tuck battle was tied with 2:13 left, before the Tigers finished on a 8-2 run for the victory. Bam Doyne turned in his third 20-point game of the year with 20 along with 5 rebounds. Clarence Sanders scored in double-figures for the third straight game with 15 with 4 assists, while Londrick Nolen and Todd Abernethy each notched 10 points. Despite the recent skid, the Rebels' start is their best since opening 15-4 (4-2 in SEC) in 2001-02.
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 140-99 record. Barnes' 140 coaching victories in his first 239 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span. His .588 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 GATORS: After opening 17-0 and rising as high as No. 2 in the national rankings, Florida has dropped two of its last three and sits second in the SEC Eastern Division. The Gators snapped a two-game skid with an 81-58 home win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. Tenth-year head coach Billy Donovan lost three key starters from last year's SEC Tournament champion team but has kept Florida on top with a balanced lineup that features five players averaging double-figures, four of which are sophomores. The UF offense is averaging 82.6 points per game and heads the conference in field goal percentage (.522) and assists (19.16). Guard Taurean Green leads the Gators in scoring at 14.0 and assists at 5.2, while swingman Corey Brewer is posting 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Forward Joakim Noah averages 12.3 points, 6.0 boards and 2.2 blocked shots, and center Al Horford is adding 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Junior guard Lee Humphrey (10.9 ppg) has started every game this year, but is out 1-3 weeks with a separated left shoulder. He is the SEC leader in 3-point percentage at .496.
OLE MISS-FLORIDA SERIES: Tuesday's game will be the 95th meeting between the two schools. Florida holds a 53-41 lead in the series, which began in 1940. The Gators hold a narrow 6-5 lead in the last 11 games and have won the last three, including last year's 90-53 result in Gainesville (see page 6). Ole Miss enjoys a 27-18 edge in the meetings in Oxford and the teams have split the last four at Tad Smith Coliseum. Rebel head coach Rod Barnes is 3-6 versus Florida and 1-2 against the Gators in Oxford.
FLORIDA CONNECTIONS: Ole Miss junior guard Clarence Sanders spent the last two years in the Sunshine State, playing for Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Niceville, Fla. In his two years with the Raiders, Sanders faced off multiple times with Panhandle Conference adversary Pensacola Junior College and now-Florida junior guard Brett Swanson. Sanders was a two-time First Team All-Florida selection and the 2005 Panhandle Player of the Year.
SUMMER TEAMMATES: Ole Miss junior Jermey Parnell and Florida junior Lee Humphrey competed as teammates in May, traveling together through the Far East on the Sports Reach team. Parnell and Humphrey were two of the leaders on the eight-man squad, which was comprised entirely of SEC players. Parnell averaged 13.3 points and 9.0 rebounds, while Davis posted 12.9 points and hit 15-of-32 3-pointers (.469).
"TAD PAD" SWEET "TAD PAD": The "Tad Pad" has proven to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to pay. With a 10-2 mark this year, Ole Miss has won 122 of its last 150 games (.813 winning percentage) in Oxford, including homecourt winning streaks of 29 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 364-175 (.675 winning percentage) at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season. In head coach Rod Barnes' era, the Rebels have a home record of 94-26 (.777 winning percentage), including a 37-22 homecourt record against SEC foes (.627 winning percentage). Ole Miss knocked off South Carolina and Mississippi State in its first two conference home games of the year before falling to LSU Saturday.
OLE MISS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Ole Miss faces its second nationally-ranked opponent of the year in Florida, tabbed No. 7 in the ESPN /USA Today poll and No. 8 by the AP. On Dec. 17, the Rebels fell to fifth-ranked Memphis 72-49 in Oxford. The Rebels were 0-6 against the top-25 last year but made some strong upset bids in the three home matchups with ranked foes. The Rebels were up by as much as 12 points to No. 18 Mississippi State before falling 87-76. Ole Miss led No. 8 Kentucky until the final 3:41 and had two shot attempts to tie in a bitter 53-50 defeat. In a battle with No. 22 Alabama, Ole Miss was ahead by as much as eight in the second half and was within three points with 2:51 left. The Rebels' last win over a top-25 adversary was a 79-68 home win over No. 23 South Carolina during the 2003-04 campaign. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since the 1998-99 season), the Rebels have a 20-35 record vs. ranked opponents.
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 nine times this year and topped Ole Miss in scoring in five games including his 20-point effort against LSU Saturday. He was 6-of-7 shooting, 3-for-3 from the arc and 5-for-6 from the stripe in notching his third 20-point game of the year. Doyne led Ole Miss past South Carolina with 23 points, a career-high 9 rebounds and 5 assists 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 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. Doyne led the team in assists against Mississippi State with a career-high 6 along with 6 points and 5 rebounds. The Little Rock native is tied for the team-lead in assists (2.6) and ranks second in scoring (10.8), rebounds (4.6) and steals (1.2). In SEC play, Doyne is averaging 33.2 minutes, 13.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
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. At one point, he reeled off 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 14 of 19 games with six 20-point outings and four double-doubles. His 8-point, 6-rebound tally against LSU Saturday snapped a streak of eight straight games scoring in double-digits. 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 (14.2), rebounding (7.5), steals (1.4), blocks (0.8) and field goal percentage (.597, which is second in the SEC). He is also tied for third on the squad in assists (1.7). In SEC play, Curtis is top-10 in the conference in scoring (15.0) and top-5 in rebounding (8.3) and field goal percentage (.559).
HOT CLAY: Streaky junior guard Clarence Sanders has been on a hot streak of late, averaging 13.0 points over his last three games. He struck for 15 points and 4 assists against LSU Saturday. Sanders dropped in 12 points Wednesday at Arkansas, marking the second time this year in which the JUCO transfer topped the team in scoring, and the other instance also happened to be a Rebel loss. Sanders posted a team-high 13 points against No. 5 Memphis. Sanders has shown to be a streaky scorer this season. He has posted five games of 15 or more points, but also four games with 1 or no points. He had his best game as a Rebel against Arkansas State with 20 points and 4 3-pointers. However, Sanders followed up with 4 points vs. Southeastern Louisiana and 0 vs. Alcorn State. He returned to form against Western Carolina with 15, but was held scoreless at Alabama.
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. 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 boasts season percentages of .467 (35-of-75) and .500 (11-of-22) in SEC play. The Carmel, Ind., native drilled 4-of-6 against Centenary and connected on 3-of-4 vs. Nicholls and Southern Utah. Abernethy knocked down 2-of-4 treys in each of the last two games.
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 .250. 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 69.9 points per game, which is 6.1 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 46.6, which is currently fifth-best in the SEC. 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 LSU Saturday, and in the 60s twice.
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.
CHARITABLE STRIPE: Ole Miss is also having an improved season from the free throw line, connecting on 256-of-382 for a 67.0 percentage. That figure is the Rebels' highest free throw clip since shooting 72.6 percent in 2002-03. Ole Miss is shooting 71.3 percent (97-of-136) over the last seven games and ranks fourth in the SEC in league play (70.9). 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 77.8 this year. Bam Doyne ranks ninth in the SEC with a 73.6 free throw percentage, while Todd Abernethy is hitting 71.4 percent.
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 11-of-19 opponents, including both Arkansas and LSU. The Rebels are also averaging 3.5 blocked shots per game, a considerable increase from last year's 2.0 average.
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