Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Feb. 12, 2004

GAME #21: Ole Miss (11-9, 3-6) vs. Auburn (12-8, 3-6)
February 14, 2004 * 5 p.m. CT
C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum * Oxford, Miss.

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VALENTINES DAY SPECIAL: "Bring Your Sweetheart!" Buy one student ticket, get one free. Also, early-comers to the televised matchup receive free "Rod Squad" t-shirts.

TV: FOX Sports Net (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Eddie Fogler, color analyst)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Gary Darby, color analyst)
Gametracker: www.OleMissSports.com

OLE MISS TAKES HOME WIN STREAK INTO AUBURN GAME: Following a midweek break, Ole Miss looks to extend its three-game home win streak Saturday against Auburn. All three of the Rebels' conference wins this season have come at home, including a 79-68 victory over No. 23 South Carolina in their last contest at Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss is one of five SEC teams with three league wins and is in a three-way tie for third in the Western Division with the visiting Tigers and Alabama. The Rebels dropped their second straight loss Saturday at No. 7 Mississippi State. Senior Aaron Harper posted a team-high 16 points and is averaging 18.3 over his last seven games. Freshman point guard Todd Abernethy turned in his third double-figure outing of the year with 10 points. Justin Reed, the SEC's leading scorer, notched his 11th straight double-digit scoring game.

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 111-70 record (.613 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 AUBURN: Auburn snapped a three-game skid Saturday, holding off Georgia 57-54 on the Plains. Junior guard Ian Young was the lone Tiger in double-figures with 13. Junior forward Marco Killingsworth grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. With the frontline of Killingsworth, Brandon Robinson and Kyle Davis, AU is one of the SEC's top clubs on the boards, outrebounding its opponents by 6.5 per game, second-best in the league. Auburn is also second in blocked shots with a 5.35 average. Davis, a senior center, tops the SEC in blocks at 2.95 per game. In his 10th year at the helm, head coach Cliff Ellis returns 10 players, including three starters, from last year's 22-12 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

OLE MISS-AUBURN SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 108th meeting between the two schools, with the Tigers holding an all-time series lead of 66-41. The Tigers have won four straight in the series, which began in 1927. Auburn took this year's earlier meeting 80-53 on the Plains, despite 20 points and six rebounds from Justin Reed. The Rebels hold a 30-21 series lead in games played in Oxford, and have won three of the last four and eight of the last 10 meetings versus the Tigers in Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 4-7 versus Auburn and 3-2 against the Tigers in Oxford.

QUOTING BARNES ON THE GAME, REED: "We're looking forward to this week being our off week and having Auburn at the end of the week. We had a tough week last week, lost a couple of games on the road, but we're looking forward to this week and preparing for the stretch. (Justin Reed) has been great.The thing about Justin is that he comes out and works every day. He's always been a kid that works extremely hard and he's done a great job in leading this team. We've had some tough losses, but he's continued to improve. It's been a joy to coach him, and we're definitely going to miss him."

VALENTINES LOVE: Ole Miss has played on Valentines Day only twice over the last seven years, but the Rebels loved the result both times. In 2000-01, Ole Miss defeated Mississippi State 66-59, and in 1997-98, the Rebels knocked off No. 7 Kentucky 73-64 in Lexington.

A CLOSE SERIES OF LATE: Although both schools have in-state rivals (Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Auburn-Alabama), you would almost think the Rebels and Tigers have a rivalry going from all the tight games the two programs have had in recent seasons. In the 20 meetings between the two schools since the 1993-94 season, the average margin of victory has been only 8.2 points. In fact, eight of the last nine games have been decided by single digits. Prior to Auburn's lopsided win earlier this year, the total margin of victory in the previous eight encounters was 29 points (3.6 points per win).

"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 10-3 home record this season and turned in a 10-6 mark in 2002-03. Ole Miss has won 107 of its last 121 games (.884 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 132-27 (.830 winning pct.). The Rebels have an all-time record of 344-165 (.676 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 74-17 (.813 winning percentage), including a 30-14 homecourt record against SEC foes (.682 winning percentage).

LEARNING ON THE JOB: Ole Miss sits right in the middle of the SEC standings despite featuring seven newcomers, tied for most in the conference with Georgia. In addition, Ole Miss also began the season with one redshirt, two players that had never started and two more with less than four career starts apiece.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Saturday's game against Auburn, which is being broadcast by Fox Sports Net, will be the seventh of at least nine regular-season contests in which the Rebels will be on television this year. Ole Miss is 2-4 in its first six 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 75 television games and has a 41-34 record in those contests.

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. Reed and Harper are currently the No. 2 scoring duo in the SEC at 18.6 (1st) and 15.4 (11th), respectively. The senior pair was 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 ranks second in the SEC and top 20 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (13.2). The Rebels are also second in the conference in TO margin (+2.75) and fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.03). The Rebels have forced 15 or more turnovers in 13 of the 20 games, and induced 23 takeaways against Nicholls State. Point guards Todd Abernethy and Cavadas Nunnery have been the catalysts with assist/turnover ratios of 2.9 and 2.3, respectively. Abernethy posted seven assists with no turnovers at Georgia. In conference games, Ole Miss is fourth in turnover margin in SEC action (+1.44) and fifth in assist/turnover ratio (0.84).



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