Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Feb. 17, 2004

GAME #22: Ole Miss (12-9, 4-6) vs. Tennessee (12-9, 4-6)
February 18, 2004 * 7:30 p.m. ET
Thompson-Boling Arena * Knoxville, Tenn.

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

OLE MISS LOOKS FOR FIRST SEC ROAD WIN AT TENNESSEE: The Rebels travel to Tennessee Wednesday in search of their first SEC road win of the season. Ole Miss and Tennessee are tied with two other teams for sixth in the SEC overall standings. The Rebels have already equaled their SEC win total of a year ago with four. Ole Miss ran its home win streak to four games with a 72-68 win over Auburn Saturday. Senior forward Aaron Harper poured in a career-high 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting. With Harper's new single-game point high, only one Rebel - Chris Rhodes - has yet to establish a new career best for points this season. Junior guard Cavadas Nunnery matched his career high in points with six and rebounds with a team-high five against Auburn. Nunnery also posted four steals, as the Rebels notched their fifth double-digit steal game of the year with 11. Ole Miss shot a season-best 58.1 percent against the Tigers.

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 112-70 record (.615 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 TENNESSEE: Tennessee fell 83-70 at Alabama Saturday to remain winless on the road in SEC play. Brandon Crump led the Vols with 19 points while C.J. Watson and Scooter McFadgon each had 13 points. Watson also added nine rebounds. McFadgon is the SEC's top scorer in conference play at 20.0 per game. He has not had back-to-back single-digit outings this year. Watson is averaging 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists his last three games. UT is the SEC's best from the charity stripe at 73.6 percent. In his third year at the helm, head coach Buzz Peterson returns eight players, including two starters, from last year's 17-12 squad that finished fourth in the SEC East. The Vol roster does not list any seniors, and the only scholarship player who has been a part of the program for more than one season is junior forward Crump. Peterson will be looking for his 150th career win Wednesday.

OLE MISS-TENNESSEE SERIES: The Volunteers hold a 62-35 lead in the series, which began in 1924. Last year, Tennessee squeaked by Ole Miss 66-64 in Oxford. The two clubs have split their last four meetings. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 2-4 versus Tennessee. The Vols hold a 34-10 edge in Knoxville and have taken six straight at Thompson-Boling Arena.

QUOTING BARNES ON THE GAME: "We've been pretty much injury free. Aaron Harper hurt his hand, and it may have affected us on the road. We had a big win against Auburn on Saturday. We're looking forward to the challenge [against Tennessee] and hopefully somehow we can win the game. It's a tough league. It's just a difficult league to win in, especially this year. There are no teams that are out of postseason [consideration]."

HARPER BLOWS UP: Senior forward Aaron Harper led Ole Miss in the win over Auburn Saturday with a career-high 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting. It marked his fifth game of 20 or more points this year and fourth game with four or more three-pointers. Harper has scored in double-figures in eight straight games and is tied for the SEC-lead in scoring in the month of February at 21.7 through the first two weeks. His AU totals moved him into 13th on the Rebel career scoring list. Harper leads Ole Miss in assists and ranks second in points and rebounds.

CLASH OF SEC STARS: Wednesday's matchup features the Southeastern Conference's top two scorers in Justin Reed for the Rebels and Scooter McFadgon for the Volunteers. The following chart displays where the two measure up in the conference statistical charts:

SEC Scoring Leaders in All Games
1.	Justin Reed, OM		18.5
2.	Scooter McFadgon, UT	18.2

SEC Scoring Leaders in League Games 1. Scooter McFadgon, UT 20.0 2. Justin Reed, OM 18.5

SEC'S TOP TANDEM: With Justin Reed and Aaron Harper back, the Rebels boast two of the top scorers in the Southeastern Conference. Reed and Harper form currently the top scoring duo in the SEC at 18.5 (1st) and 16.1 (8th), respectively. They are equally tough in league play with Reed at 18.5 (2nd) and Harper at 16.9 (7th). Ole Miss is one of only two teams in the SEC to return its top two scorers from last year. The senior pair was voted among the top tandems in college hoops by Basketball News in the preseason. 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.

THE SPARK: As the Rebels have turned up the pressure defensively, junior point guard Cavadas Nunnery has provided Ole Miss an instant spark off the bench. The Magnolia, Miss., native has used his quick hands and harassing defense to force steals and push the ball in transition. This season, Nunnery is averaging one steal every 10.0 minutes and one assist every 6.2 minutes. After seeing little action his first two years in the Red and Blue, Nunnery has played in every game this season, leads the team in steals (29) and ranks third in assists (47). He had his best game of the campaign Saturday in the win over Auburn, matching his career highs in points with six and rebounds with a team-high five. Nunnery also totaled four assists and four steals, giving him three games this season with four or more steals.

LEARNING ON THE JOB: Ole Miss sits right in the middle of the SEC standings despite having one of the most inexperienced teams in the conference. The Rebels are one of seven SEC clubs with three or more new starters this season. Of those seven, only two have better records than Ole Miss. The Rebel roster features 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.

 

 

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