Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Feb. 3, 2004

GAME #19: Ole Miss (11-7, 3-4) vs. Georgia (10-8, 2-5)
February 4, 2004 * 7 p.m. ET
Stegeman Coliseum * Athens, Ga.

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MEDIA
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Gary Darby, color analyst)
Gametracker: www.georgiadogs.com

OLE MISS TAKES HOT STREAK TO GEORGIA: Winners in three of its last four games, Ole Miss looks to even its SEC record Wednesday at Georgia. The Rebels earned their first victory over a top-25 foe this season, knocking off No. 23/24 South Carolina 79-68 Saturday. It ran the Rebels' SEC home winning streak to three games. Justin Reed posted a career-high 32 points to take over the conference lead in scoring. Reed also grabbed 13 rebounds in earning his fourth double-double of the season. It marked the 10th game this season that the senior forward topped Ole Miss in both points and rebounds.

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 111-68 record (.620 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 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 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 GEORGIA: Georgia enters Wednesday's game at the bottom of the SEC Eastern Division standings at 2-5, 10-8 overall. However, the Bulldogs boast a 65-57 road win at nationally-ranked Kentucky and are coming off a 71-50 dismantling of Arkansas Saturday. Senior guard Damien Wilkins had his best collegiate game against the Razorbacks with 26 points and nine rebounds. Wilkins has been Georgia fiercest weapon in SEC play, averaging 13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. Fellow senior guard Rashad Wright is the team's leading scorer on the season at 13.7 per game, while senior forward Chris Daniels is the top rebounder at 9.3 to go with 10.3 points and 24 blocks, which ranks top 10 in the conference. Wright and Daniels are also two of the SEC's best in steals with 31 and 30, respectively. UGA first-year head coach Dennis Felton inherited only four returnees from last year's 19-8 squad that finished third in the SEC East

OLE MISS-GEORGIA SERIES: Wednesday's game is the 97th meeting between the two schools, with Georgia holding a 62-34 lead in the series. The Bulldogs have won four straight in the series. Georgia defeated Ole Miss 89-82 in Oxford last year. The Rebels' last victory in the series was an 85-76 home win in the 1998-99 campaign. UGA holds a 35-9 series lead in games played in Athens. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 1-4 versus Georgia and 0-2 against the Bulldogs in Oxford.

QUOTING BARNES ON THE GAME: "Anytime you go on the road in this conference, most coaches will tell you it's always tough. We've had a hard time at Georgia since I've been the coach here. Coach Felton is doing a good job stabilizing the program. Our team is doing well; we're healthy. Hopefully we can continue what we're doing."

NO. 1 SCORER: The top scorer in the Southeastern Conference now resides in Oxford. With his career-high 32 points against South Carolina on Saturday, Justin Reed has taken over as the SEC's leading scorer at 19.1 points per game. His 32 points was the most by a Rebel since Keith Carter's 33 vs. Arkansas during the 1998-99 season. It also moved Reed into sixth on the Ole Miss career scoring list, 70 points shy of breaking the top five. A senior forward from Jackson, Miss., Reed has turned in nine games with 20 or more points this season, and is averaging 25.0 over his last three. His current season mark of 19.1 is the highest for a Rebel since Joe Harvell's 25.0 average during the 1991-92 season.

WHAT A TURNAROUND: After an 0-3 start to Southeastern Conference play, Ole Miss has been one of the league's hottest teams since, going 3-1 over its last four games. The Rebels have risen into Western Divison contention, currently tied for third and one game behind LSU for second place. The Rebels have turned up the defense of late, holding teams to nearly 16 points less over its last four SEC games than its first three (75.7 to 62.0). The rebounding has also improved from a -9.0 margin over the first three to nearly even in the last four at -1.0. Justin Reed has averaged six points more over the last four games (16.7 to 22.8), while Aaron Harper has poured in nearly seven more (11.0 to 17.8).

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 eight meetings between the two schools since the 1996-97 season, the average margin of victory has been only 5.9 points (47 total points). In fact, all eight games have been decided by single digits. UGA holds a narrow 5-3 edge in those last eight encounters.

HARPER NEW OLE MISS THREE KING: Aaron Harper etched his name in the Ole Miss record book last 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 second in the SEC in three-point percentage (.378) and third in treys (2.33 per game). Harper hit 65 threes in 2002-03, which is the fourth-most for a single season in Ole Miss history.

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 three sets of teammates to rank top 11 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.

PROTECTING THE BALL: The Rebels have been among college basketball's best this season in the turnover category. Ole Miss tops the SEC and ranks top 10 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (12.7). The Rebels are also second in the conference in TO margin (+3.22) and fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.08). The Rebels have forced 15 or more turnovers in 11 of the 18 games, and induced 23 takeaways against Nicholls State. Point guards Todd Abernethy and Cavadas Nunnery have been the catalysts with assist/turnover ratios of 2.7 and 2.6, respectively. With seven conference games under its belt, Ole Miss is third in turnover margin in SEC action (+2.29) and fifth in assist/turnover ratio (0.91).

 

 

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