Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Feb. 20, 2006
Game 26: Ole Miss (14-11, 4-8) vs. Kentucky (17-9, 7-5)
REBELS FACE SECOND STRAIGHT ROAD GAME: Ole Miss hits the road for the second consecutive game, traveling to Kentucky to take on the Wildcats. Both teams will be wearing throwback uniforms as part of the SEC Throwback program. After notching a 73-70 home win over Arkansas, the Rebels suffered an 84-55 loss at Mississippi State Saturday. Londrick Nolen led Ole Miss for the second straight game with 14 points. The senior forward is averaging 17.0 over the last two games. Junior forward Bam Doyne added 12 points, while sophomore center Dwayne Curtis just missed his sixth double-double with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. The Rebels' season pace remains their best since opening 18-7 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 four 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 141-104 record. Barnes' 141 coaching victories in his first 245 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span. His .576 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 WILDCATS: Kentucky sits third in the SEC Eastern Division standings and has taken its last two games, including Saturday's 79-66 road win at South Carolina. Tubby Smith's Wildcats have a trio of sophomores leading the team in scoring and currently coming off the bench. After being suspended for the entire non-conference slate, forward Randolph Morris is posting 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds since rejoining the squad and leads the SEC in field goal percentage in league play (.611). Guard Rajon Rondo is averaging 12.4 points and ranks among the overall conference leaders in assists (5th at 4.44), steals (5th at 2.04) and rebounding (11th at 6.4). Swingman Joe Crawford is adding 10.4 points and 4.5 rebounds, while starting senior guard Patrick Sparks is contributing 9.1 points, 3.3 assists and 1.9 3-pointers per game, shooting 39.8 percent from the arc.
OLE MISS-KENTUCKY SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 103rd meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats hold a 91-11 lead in the series, which began in 1925. The Wildcats hold a mere 6-3 edge over the Rebels in the last nine regular-season meetings, including last year's three-point UK win in Oxford. Ole Miss led the eighth-ranked Cats until the final 3:41, and had two shot attempts to tie the game in the 53-50 heartbreaker. Kentucky enjoys a 43-2 series advantage in games played in Lexington, and the last Rebel victory at Rupp Arena was a 73-64 triumph during the 1997-98 campaign. The Wildcats have taken the last three in Lexington and prevailed 71-61 in the last encounter there in 2004.
QUOTING BARNES: "We're disappointed with the outcome of the Mississippi State game. Kentucky is not an easy place to go play. We're a team in need of some more wins. We'll have our work cut out for us. Tradition is definitely on their side. We have a lot of work to do to prepare for this game."
TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: The SEC Throwback Uniform program takes place this week. All 12 conference schools are wearing their throwback uniforms at games from the past weekend through the upcoming weekend, and will also sport the gear again during the SEC Tournament in Nashville. The Rebels are dawning the uniforms they wore from 1978-79 to 1991-92. It was Ole Miss' uniform when it claimed the 1981 SEC Tournament title, and the old English lettering was worn by such Rebel greats as John Stroud, Carlos Clark, Sean Tuohy, Rod Barnes and Gerald Glass.
FAMILY TIES: Wednesday's game is a special one for Ole Miss sophomore guard Brian Smith, as he will be opposing his famous father. The youngest son of UK coach Tubby Smith, Brian is the first of the three sons to not play for his dad. G.G. Smith was a 1998 All-SEC pick and four-year guard at Georgia 1996-99, while Saul started at the point on three SEC Champion Kentucky squads and played for the Wildcats 1998-2001.
SUMMER TEAMMATES: Ole Miss' Jermey Parnell and Kentucky's Ravi Moss competed as teammates in May, traveling together through the Far East on the Sports Reach team. The duo were among the leaders on the eight-man squad, which was comprised entirely of SEC players and posted a 7-0 mark in its tour.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Ole Miss makes its eighth of at least 10 appearances this season on a major carrier and second showing on JP Sports Wednesday at Kentucky. The Rebels also defeated Mississippi State at home on JP and lost at Tennessee. Ole Miss faced Memphis, Alabama and Georgia on FSN, Florida on ESPN 2 and Mississippi State in a live ESPN Classic broadcast. In addition, Ole Miss has played twice on local TV, matching up with UIC on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and Saint Louis on Charter Communications (St. Louis). This season will mark the eighth straight year that the Rebels have appeared on TV 10 or more times. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), Ole Miss has played 97 television games with a 47-50 record.
CURTIS EXPECTED TO MISS GAME: According to head coach Rod Barnes, sophomore center Dwayne Curtis is expected to miss Wednesday's Kentucky game due to the death of his 22-year-old brother Jarrod, who was injured in a Jan. 11 car accident in Champagne, Ill., and passed away Friday night. Dwayne returned to his Chicago home Monday and is expected to rejoin the team following Friday's funeral. In his first season in the Red and Blue, Curtis has been a force for the Rebels this year. Curtis has scored in double-figures in 17 of 25 games with six 20-point outings and five double-doubles, including his 19-point, 13-rebound game in last Wednesday's win over Arkansas. Curtis tops Ole Miss in scoring (13.4), rebounding (7.5), steals (1.4), blocks (0.7) and field goal percentage (.574, which ranks second in the SEC). 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. At one point this season, Curtis 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.
HIGH AND LO: Londrick Nolen's up-and-down senior season has been on a high of late, as the senior forward has topped the team in scoring and averaged 17.0 points over the last two games. Notching his fourth career 20-point game, Nolen totaled a season-high 20 points, on 8-of-11 shooting, with 8 rebounds and 3 assists in guiding Ole Miss to victory over Arkansas last Wednesday. He followed up with a team-high 14 points at Mississippi State Saturday. It marked the 24th time in his two-year Rebel career to score double-figures and ninth instance this season. Nolen sparked the Rebels with pressure defense and a season-high 15 points in the victory at Alabama. The Memphis native tallied 9 points, 4 assists and 3 steals at Georgia and 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals against LSU.
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 10 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. Doyne's crunch time antics came into play again in Wednesday's 73-70 win over Arkansas, when he drilled 2 free throws and grabbed the game's final rebound all in the last 9 seconds. 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, but pitched in with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Doyne added 12 points in Saturday's loss at Mississippi State. The Little Rock native ranks second on the club in scoring (9.5), rebounds (4.2), assists (2.4) and steals (1.2).
CAPTAIN TODD: A career 39.1-percent 3-point shooter, two-year team captain Todd Abernethy has been particular accurate from behind the arc this year, boasting season percentages of .454 (44-of-97) and .455 (20-of-44) in SEC play. The junior guard was 4-of-7 from behind the arc against Mississippi State, 4-of-6 against Centenary and 3-of-4 vs. Nicholls and Southern Utah. The Carmel, Ind., native notched his 12th double-digit scoring game of the year against Arkansas last Wednesday with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He posted 14 points and 4 assists at Tennessee and 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists at Auburn. Abernethy notched a team-high 4 assists at Mississippi State Saturday and is averaging 4.0 dimes over the last five games. 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.
HOT CLAY: Streaky shooter Clarence Sanders hit a hot streak in the middle of conference play, averaging 16.8 points over a five-game SEC stretch. The junior guard exploded at Tennessee 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 is second on the team in scoring in conference play at 10.0 per game and tied for second overall at 9.5. Sanders has shown to be a streaky scorer this season. He has posted seven games of 15 or more points, but also five 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.
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 has limited three opponents in the 40s in scoring, making 30 instances in Barnes' eight years at the helm that the opposition was contained below 50. Nationally-ranked Memphis was held 17 points below its then scoring average. The Rebels contained Alabama to 38.2 percent shooting and South Carolina to 34.5, making six 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, while Arkansas was held to 3-of-16 (.188) from the arc. The Rebels are currently No.1 in the SEC in 3-point percentage defense at .319 and also first in SEC play at .297. 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:
"O"-RRIVAL: The Ole Miss offense took some major steps forward this season. The Rebels are currently averaging 67.4 points per game, which is 3.6 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 45.6. 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.
YOUTH IS SERVED: The Rebels boast a young roster this year with five freshmen and five sophomores wearing the Red and Blue. In fact, Ole Miss is the third-youngest team in the SEC and 25th in the nation, based on the players' class athletically.
ABERNETHY NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Todd Abernethy was selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 6 men's basketball first team, as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America. A junior guard from Carmel, Ind., Abernethy maintains a 3.44 GPA in Banking and Finance and has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll each of the last two seasons. Joining Abernethy on the District 6 first team is Oklahoma's Kevin Bookout, Texas A&M's Chris Walker, Sam Houston State's Ryan Bright and UT San Antonio's Kurt Attaway. By earning first team honors, Abernethy will now be placed on the national ballot for the Academic All-America team.
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