Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Feb. 10, 2006
Game 23: Ole Miss (13-9, 3-6) vs. Alabama (13-8, 6-3)
OLE MISS EYES SEASON SWEEP OF ALABAMA: After two straight on the road, the Rebels return home Saturday in search of a season sweep of Alabama. After opening conference play with three straight wins, Ole Miss dropped its sixth straight with Wednesday's 58-50 loss at Auburn, in which the Rebels led by as much as 14. Todd Abernethy posted 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, while fellow junior guard Clarence Sanders tallied 9 points and 4 assists. Freshman forward Trey Hampton added 8 points and 4 boards off the bench. Despite the recent skid, the Rebels' start is their best since opening 17-5 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 140-102 record. Barnes' 140 coaching victories in his first 242 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span. His .579 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 CRIMSON TIDE: Alabama opened SEC play with a 71-61 home loss to Ole Miss that saw preseason Wooden Award candidate Chuck Davis go down with a season-ending knee injury. Despite the loss of its All-SEC senior forward, the Crimson Tide has rallied for six wins in its last eight league games, including a 77-74 overtime victory over Vanderbilt Wednesday. Tabbed 14th in the nation at the year's start, Alabama was the preseason favorite to win the SEC Western Division and currently sits second in the standings. Eighth-year UA head coach Mark Gottfried has two key starters back from last year's SEC West Co-Champion squad in all-conference honorees Jermareo Davidson and Ronald Steele. A junior center, Davidson is 10th in the SEC in scoring at 14.1 points and is third in rebounding at 9.2 and blocks at 2.43. Sophomore guard Ronald Steele averages 13.2 points and 3.7 assists and tops the SEC in free throw percentage (.904) and minutes per game (37.86). Tide freshman forward Richard Hendrix is posting 9.8 points and 7.4 rebounds and ranks third in the league in offensive boards (2.81) and seventh in blocked shots (1.67).
OLE MISS-ALABAMA SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 158th meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide holds a 110-47 lead in the series, which began in 1921. The teams had split their season series for six straight years, until Alabama took all three meetings last year, including the Rebels' season finale in the SEC Tournament second round. Ole Miss ended a four-game losing streak to the Tide last month with a 71-61 road win, its first victory in Tuscaloosa since 1997-98. Alabama holds a narrow 36-35 lead in games played in Oxford, but the Rebels have won seven of the last eight meetings at Tad Smith Coliseum. The Tide snapped a seven-game skid at the Tad Pad with last year's 66-58 triumph. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 7-9 versus Alabama and 6-1 against the Crimson Tide in Oxford.
REVERSING TRENDS: In recent years, the Ole Miss-Alabama series had been a matter of location, location, location. However, that trend has shifted the last two years, with Alabama winning in Oxford last season and Ole Miss being victorious in Tuscaloosa earlier this year. Prior to the Crimson Tide's win in Oxford last season, the home team had prevailed in 13 straight meetings between the Rebels and Tide. Before that UA win a year ago, the previous time the road team ruled was during the 1997-98 season, when Ole Miss pulled off a 74-63 victory in Tuscaloosa.
SWEET HOME ALABAMA: A pair of Rebels call the state of Alabama home. Junior guard Clarence Sanders hails from Phenix City, while freshman forward Trey Hampton is from Hoover. Playing at Central High School, Sanders faced off with Alabama's Ronald Steele and John Carroll High in the 2003 6A state semifinals. Despite 4-of-8 3-pointers and 28 points from Sanders, his Red Devils fell 77-61 in overtime, as Steele posted 18 points and 7 assists for the victorious Cavaliers. With Hoover and John Carroll both 6A Birmingham area schools, Hampton and Steele were common adversaries during their high school days. Hampton also compete against Richard Hendrix and Athens High in his prep career.
FAMILIAR FOES: Saturday's match-up between Ole Miss and Alabama will feature head coaches at the helm of basketball programs where they also played. Rod Barnes played at Ole Miss from 1985-88, and is the first Rebel head coach to have played his collegiate basketball at Ole Miss since Cob Jarvis (1969-76). Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried played at his alma mater from 1985-87 and helped lead the Crimson Tide to three-consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. During their playing careers, Barnes' and Gottfried's teams met six times from 1984-85 to 1986-87. Gottfried's squads won all six meetings in those match-ups. Both Barnes and Gottfried became head coaches at their alma mater in 1998-99, and the Tide mentor holds a slight 9-8 lead head-to-head.
SUMMER TEAMMATES: Ole Miss junior Jermey Parnell and Alabama injured senior Chuck Davis competed as teammates in May, traveling together through the Far East on the Sports Reach team. Parnell and Davis 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 21.9 points and 8.0 boards.
HOT CLAY: Streaky shooter Clarence Sanders has been on a hot streak of late, averaging 15.5 points over the last six games. The junior guard exploded at Tennessee last 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 and 11.7 in conference play. 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 last Saturday, but pitched in with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. The Little Rock native ranks second in scoring (9.7), rebounds (4.5), assists (2.6) 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 21 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 (13.4), rebounding (7.4), steals (1.5), blocks (0.8) and field goal percentage (.588, which is second in the SEC). He is also tied for third on the squad in assists (1.5).
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 .459 (39-of-85) and .469 (15-of-32) 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 is 4-of-9 over the last two games, posting 14 points and 4 assists at Tennessee and 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists at Auburn to give him 11 double-digit scoring games this season. 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.
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 .318 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.
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 1.5 rebounding edge. Over the last five games, the Rebels controlled the boards against Arkansas, LSU, Florida and Tennessee and have an average advantage of 4.0 rebounds per game during that stretch. In SEC play, Ole Miss ranks fifth in the league in rebounding margin (+0.6). In addition, the Rebels are averaging 3.4 blocked shots per game, a considerable increase from last year's 2.0 average.
"O"-RRIVAL: The Ole Miss offense took some major steps forward this season. The Rebels are currently averaging 68.5 points per game, which is 4.7 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 South Carolina and LSU, and in the 60s twice.
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