Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Feb. 2, 2006
Game 21: Ole Miss (13-7, 3-4) vs. #13/16 Tennessee (15-3, 6-1)
REBELS HIT ROAD FOR ANOTHER RANKED FOE: The Rebels look to move back to the .500 mark in SEC play Saturday at 13th-ranked Tennessee. After opening SEC play with three straight wins, Ole Miss dropped its fourth straight with Tuesday's 69-58 loss to Florida. The Rebels were within 5 points with 1:37 left, but the Gators made 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute to secure the win. The duo of Clarence Sanders and Trey Hampton came off the bench to supply the offense. Sanders scored in double-figures for the fourth straight game with a team-high 16 along with 4 steals. Hampton turned in his best SEC game with 11 points. Despite the recent skid, the Rebels' start is their best since opening 16-4 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 140-100 record. Barnes' 140 coaching victories in his first 240 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span. His ..583 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of eight years .583 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 VOLUNTEERS: A preseason fifth-place pick in the SEC Eastern Division, Tennessee has risen atop the East standings and is No. 13 in the latest national poll, their highest spot since being ranked 10th on Feb. 5, 2001. UT boasts win this season over No. 6 Texas and No. 2 Florida. Under the direction of first-year head coach Bruce Pearl, the Volunteers are riding a four-game SEC winning streak, their longest since the 2002-03 season. Tennessee is also enjoying a 13-game home court winning streak that includes an 11-0 mark at Thompson-Boling Arena this season. UT is leading the SEC in scoring offense (82.6), steals (10.61), 3-pointers made (8.22), turnover margin (+7.28) and assist/turnover ratio (1.46). Sophomore guard Chris Lofton leads the Vols and ranks fourth in the SEC with 15.9 points per game. The Maysville, Ky., native leads the league in 3-pointers (3.44) and is second in steals (2.33). Senior guard C.J. Watson is second on the team and fifth in the SEC with 15.6 points and is converting 48.8 percent of his field goals this year. The point guard is second in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (2.53) and is third in steals (2.28).
OLE MISS-TENNESSEE SERIES: The Volunteers hold a 63-36 lead in the series, which began in 1924. The teams have split their last six meetings, and Ole Miss prevailed 60-58 last year in Oxford (see page 6). The Vols enjoy a 35-10 all-time edge in Knoxville and have taken seven straight encounters at Thompson-Boling Arena.
OLE MISS VERSUS RANKED TEAMS: Ole Miss faces its second straight nationally-ranked opponent and third of the year in Tennessee, tabbed No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 16 by ESPN /USA Today. The Rebels fell to seventh-ranked Florida 69-58 on Tuesday, and lost to fifth-ranked Memphis 72-49 on Dec. 17. 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 20-36 record vs. ranked opponents.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Ole Miss makes its sixth of 10 appearances this season on a major carrier Saturday against Tennessee on JP Sports. The Rebels also appeared on JP in the win over Mississippi State on Jan. 14. Ole Miss faced Memphis, Alabama and Georgia on FSN and Florida on ESPN 2. 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 95 television games with a 47-48 record.
HOT CLAY: Streaky junior guard Clarence Sanders has been on a hot streak of late, averaging 13.8 points over his last four games. He struck for 16 points and 4 steals against No. 7 Florida and posted 15 points and 4 assists against LSU. Sanders dropped in 12 points at both Arkansas and Georgia. With his output against Florida and Arkansas, the JUCO transfer has topped the team in scoring three times, and unfortunately, all three were losses. Sanders also posted a team-high 13 points against No. 5 Memphis. Sanders has shown to be a streaky scorer this season. He has posted six 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.
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. 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 leads the team in assists (2.6) and ranks second in scoring (10.5), rebounds (4.6) and steals (1.2).
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 20 games with six 20-point outings and four double-doubles. He has been held in single-digits in the last two games, but has still helped the Rebel cause. Curtis posted 8 points, a game-high 7 rebounds and 2 steals against Florida, and tallied 8 points and 6 rebounds against LSU. 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 provided 18 points and 12 rebounds against South Carolina State. He leads Ole Miss in scoring (13.9), rebounding (7.5), steals (1.5), blocks (0.8) and field goal percentage (.588, which is second in the SEC). He is also third on the squad in assists (1.7).
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 .461 (35-of-76) and .478 (11-of-23) 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 against both Arkansas and LSU.
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 are currently No.1 in the SEC in 3-point percentage defense at .317 and also first in SEC play at ..273. The Rebels pressured South Carolina State into 25 turnovers, .273. 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 69.3 points per game, which is 5.5 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 fourth-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, and in the 60s twice.
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 1.7 rebounding edge this year and has outrebounded 12-of-20 opponents. The Rebels have been particularly impressive on the boards of late, outgaining its last three opponents (Arkansas, LSU and Florida) by an average of 7 rebounds per game. The Rebels are also averaging 3.4 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.
CHARITABLE STRIPE: Ole Miss is also having an improved season from the free throw line, connecting on 256-of-382 for a 66.5 percentage. That figure is the Rebels' highest free throw clip since shooting 72.6 percent in 2002-03. Ole Miss is shooting 69.5 percent (105-of-151) over the last eight games and ranks fourth in the SEC in league play (68.9). 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 76.3 this year. Bam Doyne boasts a 72.6 free throw percentage, while Todd Abernethy is hitting 71.4 percent.
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