Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Feb. 19, 2004

GAME #23: Ole Miss (12-10, 4-7) vs. Florida (14-8, 5-6)
February 21, 2004 * 7:05 p.m. CT
C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum * Oxford, Miss.

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TV: ESPN2 (Bob Carpenter, play-by-play; Jimmy Dykes, color analyst).
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Gary Darby, color analyst).
Gametracker: www.OleMissSports.com

OLE MISS LOOKS FOR FIVE STRAIGHT WINS AT HOME: Ole Miss tries to extend its home win streak to five games Saturday against the Florida Gators. The Rebels are in a three-way tie for third in the SEC Western Division, while the Gators are in a three-way tie for third in the East. The Rebels have already equaled their SEC win total of a year ago with four. Ole Miss is coming off a 83-66 road loss at Tennessee on Wednesday. Senior forward Justin Reed, the SEC's second-leading scorer, posted 19 points and seven rebounds to top the team in both points and boards for the 12th time this season. Reed needs seven more points to enter Ole Miss' top five for career points. Aaron Harper turned in his ninth straight double-digit scoring game at Tennessee with 16 along with five assists and five rebounds.

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 112-71 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 FLORIDA: Florida rose to the top of the national rankings in December, but has since dropped out of the rankings. The Gators have lost six of their last nine games and are coming off a 76-62 loss at Georgia Tuesday. Matt Walsh posted his third consecutive 20-point outing with 28. The sophomore forward leads Florida in SEC play and ranks top five in the league at 17.7 points per game. Sophomore guard Anthony Roberson, who was limited to three points at UGA, averages a team-best 16.6 for the season and is the conference's top three-point weapon at 3.10 per game and 42.5 percent from the arc. As a team, the Gators lead the SEC in scoring (78.3 ppg), assists (16.95 apg), field goal percentage (47.9), free throw percentage (73.8) and three-pointers made (8.09 3pg). In his eighth year at the helm, UF head coach Billy Donovan returned 10 players, including three starters, from last year's 25-8 squad that finished second in the SEC East and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. However, on Wednes-day, the Gators lost sophomore guard/forward Christian Drejer, who left the program to pursue a professional career overseas.

OLE MISS-FLORIDA SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 93rd meeting between the two schools. Florida holds a 51-41 lead in the series, which began in 1940. The Rebels have won five of the last nine meetings, although the Gators took last year's meeting 74-55 in Gainesville. Ole Miss enjoys a 27-17 edge in the meetings in Oxford and has won two of the last three at Tad Smith Coliseum. Rebel head coach Rod Barnes is 3-4 versus Florida and 1-1 against the Gators in Oxford.

QUOTING BARNES: "We had a tough night last night at Tennessee. Florida is coming in here now. They have had some problems recently, but I'm sure they will be ready to play. To have any chance on Saturday, we are going to have to play very well defensively. I really feel for Florida and what they are having to deal with losing a player this time of the season like that. I'm concerned about it and hopeful this sort of thing does not become a trend."

GOING STREAKING IN OXFORD: Since early January, Ole Miss has been on quite a streak in Oxford, winning four straight SEC games. It marks the Rebels' longest home winning run since taking 20 straight beginning in 2001-02 season and ending last January. In its current streak, Ole Miss has outscored its opponents by 7.5 points with Reed and Harper averaging over 20 apiece at 22.8 and 20.5, respectively. In the four wins, the Rebels shot 47.8 percent from the field and 72.4 percent from the free throw line and nabbed 9.0 steals per game.

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 nine straight games and is averaging 20.3 over the last four. He has moved into 12th on the Rebel career scoring list and needs 31 points to crack the top 10. Harper leads Ole Miss in assists this season and ranks second in points and rebounds.

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 (2nd) and 16.1 (8th), respectively. They are also No. 1 in league play and equally tough with Reed at 18.5 (2nd) and Harper at 16.8 (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 10.4 minutes and one assist every 6.3 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 (30) and ranks third in assists (50). 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.

"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 11-3 home record this season and turned in a 10-6 mark in 2002-03. Ole Miss has won 108 of its last 122 games (.885 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 133-27 (.831 winning pct.). The Rebels have an all-time record of 345-165 (.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 75-17 (.813 winning percentage), including a 31-14 homecourt record against SEC foes (.689 winning percentage).

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Saturday's game against Florida, which is being broadcast on ESPN2, will be the eighth of at least nine regular-season contests in which the Rebels will be on television this year. Ole Miss is 3-4 in its first seven 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 76 television games and has a 42-34 record in those contests.



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