Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Feb. 5, 2006
Game 22: Ole Miss (13-8, 3-5) vs. Auburn (9-10, 1-7)
REBELS FACE SECOND STRAIGHT ROAD GAME: The Rebels hit the road for the second straight game Wednesday at SEC West rival Auburn. After opening conference play with three straight wins, Ole Miss dropped its fifth straight with Saturday's 86-72 loss to No. 13 Tennessee. Junior guard Clarence Sanders enjoyed a career game with 7 3-pointers and 29 points. It marked his fifth consecutive game scoring in double-figures. Junior guard Todd Abernethy posted 14 points and 4 assists, while sophomore center Dwayne Curtis finished one rebound shy of his fifth double-double with 10 points and 9 boards. Despite the recent skid, the Rebels' start is their best since opening 17-4 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 140-101 record. Barnes' 140 coaching victories in his first 241 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span. His .581 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 TIGERS: After an 8-3 non-conference season, Auburn is an SEC-worst 1-7 in league play and coming off a 71-53 defeat at Mississippi State Saturday. AU second-year head coach Jeff Lebo is starting a lineup with four freshmen, including leading scorer Rasheem Barrett. The 6-foot-5 guard is dropping in 11.4 points, while the team's lone senior Ronny LeMelle follows at 11.3 ppg. Sophomore guard Frank Tolbert is scoring 9.6 points, and freshman forward Josh Dollard is averaging 8.9 points and a team-best 4.7 rebounds. Rookie point guard Quantez Robertson ranks third in the SEC in assists at 5.0 and minutes at 35.53 to go with a 7.3 scoring clip.
OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 111th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 66-44. Ole Miss swept last year's season series and has won three straight and six of the last 10 encounters with Auburn. The Tigers hold a commanding 44-9 series lead in games played in Auburn, although the Rebels were victorious last year 79-72. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 7-7 versus Auburn and 2-5 against the Tigers on the Plains.
TIGER TIES: Two members of the Rebel family have close ties with Western Division rival Auburn. Ole Miss sophomore center and leading scorer Dwayne Curtis played for the Tigers during his freshman season in 2003-04, before transferring to Ole Miss in May 2004. Curtis, who sat out last year, played in 19 games, starting five, in his one year on the Plains. Also arriving in Oxford via Auburn is second-year assistant coach Tracy Dildy, who spent two seasons as a Tiger assistant and served as assistant head coach for recruiting in 2003-04.
SWEET HOME ALABAMA: A pair of Rebels will be returning to their home state of Alabama this week. Junior guard Clarence Sanders is from Phenix City, which is a mere 34 miles from Auburn. Also, freshman forward Trey Hampton hails from Hoover.
HOT CLAY: Streaky shooter Clarence Sanders has been on a hot streak of late, averaging 16.8 points over the last five games. The junior guard exploded at Tennessee Saturday drilling 7 3-pointers -- the most ever by a Rebel against an SEC opponent and one shy of Keith Carter's school record from 1998. Sanders' 29 points equaled the most by an Ole Miss player since Aaron Harper hung 30 on Auburn in 2003-04. Sanders has risen to second on the team in scoring at 10.2 per game. He is tied for 19th in the SEC in league games with a 12.0 average. Sanders has shown to be a streaky scorer this season. He has posted seven games of 15 or more points, but also four games with 1 or no points. He had his first 20-point 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 in the next game 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. He failed to find his shooting touch at Tennessee Saturday, but pitched in with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. The Little Rock native leads the team in assists (2.7) and ranks second in scoring (10.1), 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. 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 (13.7), rebounding (7.5), steals (1.5), blocks (0.9) and field goal percentage (.587, which is second in the SEC). He is also third on the squad in assists (1.6).
CAPTAIN TODD: A career 38.8-percent 3-point shooter, two-year team captain Todd Abernethy has been particular accurate from behind the arc this year, boasting season percentages of .457 (37-of-81) and .464 (13-of-28) in SEC play. The junior guard was 4-of-7 from behind the arc against Mississippi State and 4-of-6 against Centenary. Abernethy connected on 3-of-4 vs. Nicholls and Southern Utah and 2-of-4 treys against both Arkansas and LSU. The Carmel, Ind., native was 2-of-5 at Tennesee Saturday in reaching his 10th double-digit scoring game of the season with 14 with 4 assists. After being winless in his first four career games against Mississippi State, Abernethy took charge in leading the Rebels past the rival Bulldogs on Jan. 14. He 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.
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:
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 1.8 rebounding edge this year and has outrebounded 13-of-21 opponents. The Rebels have been particularly impressive on the boards of late, outgaining its last four opponents (Arkansas, LSU, Florida and Tennessee) and doing so by an average of 6.3 rebounds per game. In SEC play, Ole Miss ranks fourth in the league in rebounding margin at +1.2. In addition, the Rebels are averaging 3.5 blocked shots per game, a considerable increase from last year's 2.0 average.
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 .321 and also first in SEC play at .288. In addition, 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 69.4 points per game, which is 5.6 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 46.7, 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 South Carolina and LSU, and in the 60s twice.
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