Live Radio | Live StatsGAME 25: Ole Miss (16-8, 5-5) vs. LSU (14-10, 3-7)
February 14, 2007 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700)
Live TV: Lincoln Financial Sports
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, analyst)
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 147
WEST-LEADING REBELS HOST CHAMPS
Ole Miss is putting its SEC Western Division lead on the line against defending West champion LSU Wednesday. The Rebels enter on a three-game win streak and winners in four of their last five. Ole Miss earned its first win over a top-25 foe since 2003-04 with Saturday's comeback victory over No. 18 Alabama Saturday 75-69. Clarence Sanders scored 11 of the Rebels final 12 points in helping the team rally from 7 down midway through the second half. The game attracted the largest crowd in Tad Smith Coliseum history with 9,452, as Ole Miss improved to 12-1 at home this season.
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING TIGERS
LSU, who was ranked No. 5 in the preseason national polls, stumbled out of the SEC gates, and despite Saturday's 71-67 home win over Arkansas, resides in last place in the Western Division standings. John Brady's Fighting Tigers are coming off a 2005-06 season that saw a Final Four berth and the program's ninth SEC regular-season title. Leading the charge again this year is National Player of the year candidate Glen Davis, who ranks second in the league in scoring (17.9 ppg) and first in rebounding (10.7 ppg). The junior forward turned in his 13th double-double of the year with 19 points and 18 boards against the Razorbacks. Forward Tasmin Mitchell follows at 14.1 points per game and 6.0 boards, while guard Garrett Temple is adding 9.1 points and 4.2 assists and is considered among the nation's top defenders. Texas Tech transfer guard Terry Martin is providing 11.1 points and 45.5 percent 3-point shooting.
OLE MISS-LSU SERIES
Wednesday's game will be the 191st meeting between the two schools. The series with the Tigers, which began in 1909, is the second-longest in Ole Miss basketball history. LSU leads the all-time series 113-77, although the teams have split the last 22 meetings. The Tigers have taken six straight over the Rebels, including a tightly-contested 62-55 result in January (see page 6). The average margin of victory is 5.3 over the last four games. The Rebels hold a 48-32 lead in games played in Oxford and has taken nine of the last 13 meetings at Tad Smith Coliseum.
First-year Ole Miss mentor Andy Kennedy also faced the Bayou Bengals as Cincinnati head coach last year, earning a 75-72 at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
The Rebel roster features a Louisiana native in freshman guard Rodney Jones, who hails from Alexandria. In addition, Ole Miss assistant coach and former player Michael White spent his prep days at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, under coach Chris Jennings. During Michael's youth in Louisiana, his father Kevin White served as Athletic Director at Tulane. He is currently in that same position at Notre Dame.
REBELS ON VALENTINES
Ole Miss is 13-11 all-time when competing on Valentines Day. The Rebels are 6-1 in their last seven games, and knocked off Auburn 72-68 at home on February 14, 2004 in their most recent Valentines game.
BEST SEASON SINCE 2001-02
With Saturday's victory over Alabama, Ole Miss has secured its first winning season since going 20-11 during the 2001-02 campaign, the program's last NCAA Tournament appearance. This year's 16 wins bests the previous best of 14 over the last four seasons. Ole Miss' triumph over the Tide was the team's fifth in SEC play, which also equals the most since 2001-02.
ON THE BUBBLE
Ole Miss has been listed as an NCAA Tournament contender on ESPN.com's "Drive to 65" the last two weeks. The Rebels were named along with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Vanderbilt as SEC clubs with "work left to do". ESPN.com also singled out Ole Miss as its team in the “Hot Zone” in the latest “Weekly Watch”.
PROTECTING THE BALL
Ole Miss is the SEC’s best in turnover margin (+3.96) and ranks third in assist/turnover ratio (1.20). The Rebels have been in single digits in turnovers in nine games and three times in league play, including a season-low 5 against Alabama Saturday. Senior guard Todd Abernethy is the SEC leader in assist/turnover ratio at 3.34 and ranks second in the nation.
POURING IN THE POINTS
Andy Kennedy's style of "pressure basketball" is paying tremendous dividends for the Rebels on the offensive side. The team is averaging 74.9 points per game, a 9.7 raise from a year ago, and the highest clip since scoring 77.0 per game in 1998-99. Prior to Saturday's Alabama win, Ole Miss had scored 80-plus points in four consecutive SEC games for the first time since 1976. The Rebels' 100-80 victory over Nicholls marked only the second time since 2001 for the team to reach the century mark in points.
STEALING THE SHOW
Ole Miss is second in the SEC in steals in league play at 8.20 per game and has posted double-digit takeaways four times, including 11 at Auburn in forcing the Tigers into 25 turnovers. The Rebels established a season high for steals at Florida with 12 against the No. 1 Gators, including 3 from Eniel Polynice. Brian Smith collected 3 against Tennessee, as the team totaled 11. The Rebels notched 10 steals against Arkansas, led by Bam Doyne's career-best tying 4, and pressed the Hogs into 21 turnovers. Doyne is tied for 11th in the SEC in league-play steals (1.44 pg) and has tallied multiple steals in nine games this year.
The Rebels are shooting 50.4 percent from the field over the last four games. The team is also connecting on 40.7 percent of its 3-pointers during this stretch. The last four games have marked Clarence Sanders’ move to sixth man, and the super sub has posted a 45.7 clip (16-of-35) from behind the arc.
Ole Miss has ignited second-half comebacks in four SEC games, including three straight at one point. The latest drama was for the SEC West lead Saturday, as the Rebels powered from 7 points down with 10:10 left to earn a 75-69 victory. As was the case in the other rallying efforts, Clarence Sanders was a key figure, scoring 11 of the team's final 12 points. The Bama game was the sixth this year when Ole Miss trailed at halftime and came back for the win.
At Vanderbilt, the Rebels stormed out of the half on a 32-16 run that turned a 15-point deficit into a 1-point advantage with 10:34 left. Ole Miss would retake the lead again later before falling 85-80. Bam Doyne directed the surge with 15 of his 22 after halftime, while Sanders scored 11 and hit consecutive 3s to provide the lead.
Prior to facing the Commodores, the Rebels reeled off second-half runs in which they outscored both Florida and Tennessee by 18 points. Sanders had 18 after the break and hit five consecutive shots during a 20-2 second-half explosion against the Vols that shifted a 10-point halftime deficit into a 14-point win.
After falling down by 25 points against No. 1 Florida, Ole Miss used a full-court press to begin a 29-11 run on the national champs that narrowed the gap to 7 points. After intermission, Ole Miss had 9 steals and scored 15 points off 12 Gator turnovers. Sanders attacked for 15 points in the second half, and off the bench, Eniel Polynice collected 3 steals and 8 points and Brian Smith was 2-for-2 from 3-point range. After seeing the 7-point deficit balloon again to 13 with 5:44 left, the Rebels stormed back again with three straight baskets to pull back to 7 points. In both instances in which the margin was 7, Ole Miss had a possession to draw even closer.
The 82-59 final winning margin at Auburn marked the largest for the Rebels in an SEC game since a 84-56 triumph over Alabama on March 3, 2002, and the widest margin on the road in conference play since beating LSU 83-57 on Feb. 18, 1998. It marked Ole Miss' biggest win over Auburn on the Plains and the second-biggest overall against the Tigers. Including Tennessee and Mississippi State, the Rebels have won three SEC games by 12 or more points this season after doing so only twice in the previous four years.
SEC’S TOP POINT GUARD?
Todd Abernethy has raised his scoring average and assist total in each of his seasons as a Rebel, and this year, those figures are jumping once again as the senior has emerged as arguably the SEC’s best point guard. Abernethy leads the SEC in assists per game (5.52) and assist/turnover ratio (3.34), in which he also ranks second in the nation. He tallied 6 assists with no turnovers in Saturday's Alabama win. Abernethy is also averaging in double-figure points for the first time in his career at 11.3 ppg with a 14.0 clip and 51.0 shooting percentage in SEC action. The Carmel, Ind., native has registered a pair of 20-point games and his first career double-double with 19 points and a career-high 10 assists against Mississippi State. In addition, he is ninth in the SEC in minutes played at 32.65 per game.
Three-point gunner Clarence Sanders has been on target of late, connecting of 13-of-25 treys over the last three games. He fired in 4-of-6 from behind the arc in hanging 22 on Mississippi State, and he followed up with a record performance near his hometown Saturday. The Phenix City, Ala., native burned Auburn for 7-of-11 from long range in tying his own school record for 3-pointers in a game and notching his 10th career 20-point outing with a team-high 21. Also in SEC play, Sanders used huge second halves to strike for 16 points against Alabama Saturday, 17 at Florida and 20 against Tennessee.
After a streaky first season in the Red and Blue, Sanders has been a steady point provider for the Rebels this year. The senior guard has scored in double-figures in 22 of the last 23 games and ranks sixth in the SEC at 15.9 points per game. Sanders is also second in 3s per game (2.75) and eighth in the league in 3-point percentage (38.4). After a 35.7 shooting clip a year ago, he boasts a 42.4 field goal percentage this season.
DOYNE IT ALL
Bam Doyne has been among the SEC statistical leaders this season, ranking fourth in scoring (16.7), ninth in free throw accuracy (78.3) and 14th in minutes played (32.25). Doyne is averaging 20.5 points over the last four outings with three 20-point games, giving him nine total this year. He scored an even 20 at Auburn, and posted 23 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in the win over Mississippi State. Doyne had 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals at Vanderbilt. The senior guard has topped the team or tied for the team-lead in scoring in nine games, including Saturday's win over Alabama with 17.
Since his return late in non-conference play, Dwayne Curtis has notched nine double-doubles, including five in SEC play. He has twice reached the 20-point, 10-rebound plateau this year, including his 20 and 12 performance against Arkansas. Curtis also shined with season highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds against Alabama A&M. He narrowly reached that mark at Auburn, scorching his former team for 19 points and 11 boards. Curtis posted 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Wildcats and all-star center Randolph Morris, and he tallied 11 points and 12 boards against LSU and All-American Glen Davis. Curtis just missed double-doubles against Tennessee (18 points and 9 rebounds), Mississippi State (14 points and 8 boards) and Alabama Saturday (14 points and 8 rebounds), when he also tallied a season-high 3 steals.
Curtis suffered a stress fracture of the third metatarsal in his left foot in the third day of preseason practice and missed the first eight games of the year. In his second game back, the preseason All-SEC honoree reached a double-double less than 15 minutes into the UL-Monroe contest and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. He nearly repeated that feat at South Alabama with 16 points and 9 boards, and against UIC, he registered 13 points and 12 rebounds.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Todd Abernethy: The fourth-year Rebel is quietly sliding up the Ole Miss career lists. The Carmel, Ind., native recently moved into fifth on the all-time chart for assists with 376, passing current assistant coach and former Rebel Michael White (1996-99). This year, Abernethy also entered the top five for 3-pointers made by passing Joezon Darby (1996-98) ... Abernethy missed the first game of his career against Louisiana-Lafayette. He was injured three minutes into the season opener after his head collided with an opposing player's shoulder on a screen. He suffered a slight concussion and had five stitches over his right eye. After sitting out the ULL game, the three-time Team Captain returned to the Ole Miss starting lineup with 13 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds against Fairfield.
Bam Doyne: The senior forward has tallied multiple steals in seven games, including a career-high tying 4 against Arkansas ... Prior to the last four breakout games, Doyne's previous 20-point game was a 22-point outburst in the non-conference finale at Saint Louis. In non-league play, he scored a career-high 28 in the win at South Alabama and a pair of 25-point outings against Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. Doyne has also turned in his first two career double-doubles with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls and 20 points and a career-best 12 boards against Fairfield. Doyne has led or tied the team-lead in rebounds six times this year, including 9 boards at Saint Louis.
Trey Hampton: Hampton returned to the starting lineup for only the second time this season at Mississippi State. He played 6 minutes and connected on 1-of-2 free throws ... After missing two games with sickness, the sophomore forward returned to the court against New Orleans and added 5 points and 4 boards ... Hampton enjoyed his best game of the year against Central Arkansas. With Kenny Williams slowed by a sprained ankle, Hampton earned his first start of 2006-07 and posted season highs in minutes (25), points (8), rebounds (5) and assists (2). He was also 2-of-4 from behind the arc.
Xavier Hansbro: After making no starts as a rookie, the sophomore forward received the starting nod in the season’s first two games. In his first career start in the opening win over Mississippi Valley State, the Trezevant, Tenn., native responded with his second double-digit scoring outing as a Rebel, dropping in 11 points along with 6 rebounds. Coincidentally, Hansbro’s only other double-figure game was in last year’s season opener, when he hit 4-of-6 3-pointers for 12 points against Southern Utah.
Greg Hardy: Since suiting up for his first game with the Rebel basketball team against Alabama A&M, the two-sport athlete has seen action in eight games and earned his first career start at LSU. With Kenny Williams and Jermey Parnell both fouling out at Florida, Hardy saw 12 minutes of action and posted 3 points, 4 rebounds and a steal, giving him 6 takeaways in the last four games. He posted a season-high 5 rebounds with 2 points and 2 steals at Mississippi State ... A freshman from Memphis who is also a member of the Ole Miss football team, Hardy began practicing with the team on Nov. 27, following the Rebels’ Egg Bowl victory over Mississippi State in the season finale on the gridiron. As a rookie on the football team, Hardy played in all 12 games on the defensive line, tying for the team-lead in sacks (3.0) and ranking fifth in total tackles (49). His four fumble recoveries also tied for third in the SEC, and against MSU, he saw his first action at wide receiver and hauled in a 23-yard touchdown.
Andy Ogide: After playing in only three of the first 12 games, the freshman forward received the starting nod for the first time in his career in the win over Alabama A&M. Ogide saw 11 minutes of action and posted 3 points and 5 rebounds. He had his best game against Louisiana-Monroe with 7 points on 3-for-3 shooting.
Jermey Parnell: The junior forward struck for 6 points for the second time in the last four games against Alabama Saturday. He also equaled his season high for rebounds with 8, his most in SEC play ... Parnell started 11 straight games during non-conference play but has graced the starting lineup only once in SEC action, against Arkansas ... After only five double-figures scoring games in his first two seasons, the junior forward has already scored 10 or more points six times this year. In the win over Tennessee Tech, Parnell tallied 14 points and 8 rebounds, and he followed up with 13 points and 4 boards against Nicholls. Against New Orleans, the Gosnell, Ark., native established a career high in scoring with 16 points, going 5-for-5 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe.
Eniel Polynice: The freshman guard has earned the starting nod in each of the last four games. Polynice got his first career start at Vanderbilt and responded with his third double-digit scoring performance of the year. He finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals ... For the fourth time this season, Polynice helped energize a big Rebel run in the second-half comeback at Florida. During Ole Miss' 29-11 outburst on the Gators, the Sarasota, Fla., native scored 8 points and collected 3 steals, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in helping bring a 25-point deficit down to 7 ... The freshman guard had his best game as a Rebel against New Orleans, knocking down 4-of-4 3-pointers in totaling 15 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Polynice dropped in 12 of his points in the second half in helping Ole Miss rally from 7 down early in the stanza. He followed up with 10 points in a career-high 29 minutes at Memphis. Down 12-3 early, Polynice came off the bench to score three of the next four Ole Miss baskets to help ignite a 21-11 Rebel run ... Polynice also sparked Ole Miss in the victory over Central Arkansas in the HCF Classic. With the Rebels clinging to a 2-point advantage midway through the second half, Polynice drilled a pair of 3-pointers and scored 8 points in 2:18 to push the lead up to 10.
Clarence Sanders: In four SEC contests, the Rebels erased deficits late with Sanders speerheading the rallying efforts. The senior guard scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second stanza at Florida, as Ole Miss reeled off a 29-11 against the nation's No. 1. He followed with 18 second-half points against Tennessee to help the Rebels go from 10 down at the break to a 83-69 victory. Sanders dropped in 11 after the break at Vanderbilt and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 32-16 run and provide Ole Miss a 1-point lead. His latest heroics occurred Saturday as he led the Rebels from 7 points down with 10:10 left to a 75-69 win, scoring 11 of the team's final 12 points ... At one point this year, Sanders hit 11 straight shots, posting a perfect second half against UIC and connecting on his first five attempts against Alabama A&M. In the win over UIC, Sanders connected on 4-of-6 treys in leading the Rebels with 20, and he netted his first four 3s in scoring 23 against Alabama A&M. Sanders drilled 4-of-7 treys in pouring in 22 points against Louisiana-Lafayette, and he struck for a team-high 21 against Fairfield and 20 against Nicholls.
Brian Smith: The junior guard has hit 10 of his last 17 shots and 7-for-13 from 3-point range over the last nine games. Smith played 18 minutes at Mississippi State and was 2-for-2 from the field in scoring 5 points. He also came off the bench to hit a key trey with 8:11 left against Arkansas, and was 2-for-2 from behind the arc during the Rebels' 29-11 second-half comeback at Florida. In addition, he was 2-for-2 for 5 points against Tennessee, and hit a crucial 3-pointer in the midst of the Rebels' late game-winning rally against Alabama Saturday ... Smith earned his second career start at Vanderbilt. He played 19 minutes and collected 3 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists ... With starting point guard Todd Abernethy leaving with injury in the game's opening moments, Smith stepped in admirably in the season opener, helping lead the Rebels to the 72-49 victory over Mississippi Valley State. Smith played 21 minutes and recorded career highs of 10 points and 4 rebounds. He connected on 4-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-4 treys. With Abernethy still out, the 5-foot-11 Smith earned his first career start against Louisiana-Lafayette and saw 17 minutes of action.
Kenny Williams: The junior forward notched multiple blocked shots in a game for the 10th time this year and for the third straight game Saturday with a career-high 3 against Alabama. He is averaging 2.3 blocks over his last three contests ... Williams has scored in double figures in three SEC outings, including at Vanderbilt where he amassed 10 points, on 4-for-4 shooting, with 6 rebounds. He struck for 10 points, on 5-of-7 field goals, with 7 rebounds against Arkansas, and was also 5-for-7 for 10 points at LSU with 6 boards and 2 blocks. Williams was also effective against Tennessee with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks ... Williams is sixth in the SEC on the offensive boards (2.61) and 15th in overall rebounding (5.6) ... Williams has turned in two double-doubles, including a 13-point, career-high 13-rebound effort against Alabama A&M. Williams had his best game as a Rebel against Nicholls with his first double-double, posting career highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. He also hit for 15 points and 6 boards against New Orleans and 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals against Tennessee Tech.
TOUGH AT THE TAD PAD
Over the last decade, the "Tad Pad" proved to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. With a 12-1 mark this year, Ole Miss has won 144 of its last 177 games (.814 winning percentage) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. Included during this run are homecourt winning streaks of 29 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 378-180 (.677 winning percentage) at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season.
HITTING THE BOARDS
The Rebels are second in the SEC in offensive rebounds (13.67 per game), and pulled down 21 off the offensive glass at Mississippi State. Dwayne Curtis is the team leader in total rebounds per game (9.2) and ranks fourth in the SEC in league play (8.9). Kenny Williams has also helped lead the charge, ranking sixth in the SEC for the season on the offensive boards (2.61) and 15th in overall rebounding (5.6).
REBELS ON THE TUBE
Ole Miss is making its 14th TV appearance of the year against LSU, as the game is available on Lincoln Financial Sports. The Rebels are scheduled to make at least 18 television appearances in 2006-07, marking the ninth straight season that Ole Miss has played on TV 10 or more times. Ole Miss and Mississippi State renewed their bitter rivalry in Oxford with an ESPN "Super Tuesday" showdown. The LSU contest is the third of four on LFS, while five games will be played on FSN South. In non-conference play, the Rebels were in front of the cameras four times on SportsSouth, three on CSS and an ESPNU appearance at Connecticut. In addition, four early-season games were streamed live over the internet on OleMissSport.com's premium site, OleMissSports.tv.