Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Jan. 30, 2004
GAME #18: Ole Miss (10-7, 2-4) vs. #23/24 South Carolina (18-2, 5-1)
REBELS RETURN HOME FOR SECOND STRAIGHT RANKED FOE: Ole Miss returns home and looks to get back on the winning track Saturday against 23rd-ranked South Carolina. The Rebels saw their two-game SEC win streak snapped Wednesday in a tighly-contested battle with No. 5 Kentucky on the road, 71-61. The game was tied at halftime 29-29, and Ole Miss trailed by only five with 2:14 remaining. Senior Aaron Harper continued his hot shooting with a team-high 19 points. Over the last four games, Harper is averaging 20.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Junior Kendrick Fox added four threes and 16 points off the Rebel bench Wednesday for his best career game in SEC play.
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 110-68 record (.618 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 SOUTH CAROLINA: South Carolina enters today's game as the SEC's hottest team. The Gamecocks, who are ranked No. 23 in the nation, sit atop the Eastern Division standings at 5-1, 18-2 overall. After opening league play with a three-point home loss to Florida, USC has reeled off five straight wins, including a 57-55 victory at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Junior guard Josh Gonner tallied 17 points and five steals, and the Carolina defense limited the Commodores to 35.4 percent shooting. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in scoring defense (56.3 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.356), three-point percentage defense (.244), blocked shots (5.90 bpg) and steals (10.20 spg). Senior guard Mike Boynton is tops in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (2.89/1) and is third in assists (4.33 apg). Gonner has been Carolina's best offensive threat at 15.3 points per game. USC head coach Dave Odom is in his second year at the helm and returns nine letterwinners and three starters from last year's 12-16 squad that finished fifth in the SEC East.
OLE MISS-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Today's game will be the 19th time the two schools have faced each other on the hardwood. The series is tied at nine-all, but the Rebels have won four of the last six meetings. Last season, the teams split their two encounters, with South Carolina winning 55-49 in Columbia and Ole Miss prevailing 62-56 in the first round of the 2003 SEC Tournament in New Orleans. The opposite situation occurred the previous year when the Rebels took the regular-season meeting in Oxford and the Gamecocks ousted Ole Miss from the 2002 SEC Tournament in a first-round bout in Atlanta. Ole Miss is a perfect 6-0 against USC in Oxford. The two schools met only once prior to South Carolina joining the Southeastern Conference in the 1991-92 season. The two teams played in the Gulf-South Tournament in the 1960-61 season, with the Gamecocks taking an 85-79 decision. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 5-3 versus South Carolina and 2-0 against the Gamecocks in Oxford.
DEFENSIVE SHOWCASE: Saturday's game will feature two of the most defensive-minded clubs in the SEC. South Carolina is limiting its opponents to 56.2 points per game, tops in the SEC, while Ole Miss is close behind at 61.9, which is good for fourth in the conference. Both clubs are also strong in the turnover category, as the Gamecocks and Rebels rank one-two, respectively, in the SEC in turnover margin.
HARPER NEW OLE MISS THREE KING: Aaron Harper etched his name in the Ole Miss record book Wednesday, becoming the Rebels' all-time leader in three-pointers made. The senior forward's first of three treys against Kentucky moved him past Ole Miss great Keith Carter (1996-99) atop the career three list with 250. His five threes against Alabama last Saturday tied him for first on the charts. Harper, a 6-foot-7 swingman, currently ranks third in the SEC in treys (2.41 per game) and three-point percentage (.387). Harper hit 65 threes in 2002-03, which is the fourth-most for a single season in Ole Miss history.
OLE MISS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Ole Miss will face its third nationally-ranked opponent of the year Saturday in South Carolina. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and 24th in the ESPN/Coaches poll. The Rebels came up short in their first two shots at top-25 foes this season, falling to No. 22 Mississippi State 61-54 on Jan. 7, and losing at No. 5 Kentucky 71-61 Wednesday. 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 19-26 record versus ranked opponents.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Saturday's game against South Carolina, which is being broadcast on Jefferson Pilot Sports, will be the third straight and fifth 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 four 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 73 television games and has a 40-33 record in those contests.
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 last 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 one of only two players to rank top five in the conference in both scoring (18.4) and rebounding (8.2). 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.
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. The senior duo of Reed and Harper is currently one of only two sets of teammates to rank top 10 in the SEC in scoring in league play. 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.
REED ENTERS ELITE CLUB: With his six rebounds at Arkansas, Justin Reed entered an elite Ole Miss category. The senior forward became only the fifth Rebel move into the 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 699 rebounds in the Red and Blue, Reed has passed Jason Smith (1996-99) for 10th on the all-time rebound list.
"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 boast a 9-3 home record this season and turned in a 10-6 mark in 2002-03. Ole Miss has won 106 of its last 120 games (.883 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 15 and 29 games. In the past 10 seasons (1992-93 through 2003-04), Ole Miss has an overall home record of 131-27 (.829 winning pct.). The Rebels have an all-time record of 343-165 (.675 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 73-17 (.811 winning percentage), including a 29-14 homecourt record against SEC foes (.674 winning percentage).
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