Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Feb. 24, 2004

GAME #24: Ole Miss (12-11, 4-8) vs. Vanderbilt (17-6, 6-6)
February 25, 2004 * 7 p.m. CT
C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum * Oxford, Miss.

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

OLE MISS LOOKS TO BREAK TWO-GAME SKID: Ole Miss hosts Vanderbilt Wednesday in its third consecutive SEC East opponent. The Rebels have won eight straight games against the Commodores in Oxford and three of the last four meetings overall. The Rebels have already equaled their SEC win total of a year ago with four. Ole Miss had its four-game home win streak snapped Saturday against Florida 81-66. Justin Reed topped the team in both points (20) and rebounds (5) for the 13th time this season and posted his 10th game with 20 or more points. Aaron Harper poured in 19 points against the Gators for his 10th straight game in double-figures. Harper is averaging 20.0 over the last five games. Justin Johnson turned in his fourth double-digit performance of the season with 10 points and a pair of threes.

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 112-72 record (.609 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 VANDERBILT: Vanderbilt took a perfect 11-0 record into Southeastern Conference play, and has gone .500 in the league at 6-6. The Commodores have won two straight games and three of their last four, including a lopsided 74-54 victory over LSU Saturday. Senior forward Matt Frieje poured in a game-high 22 points and currently leads the SEC in scoring at 18.9 per game. Sophomore guard Mario Moore follows with a 10.3 scoring average and is one of three Commodores posting better than 3.3 assists per game. Vanderbilt tops the conference in assists at 17.00 per game and assist-turnover ratio at 1.25. In his fifth year at the helm, VU head coach Kevin Stallings returns 10 players, including four starters, from last year's 11-18 squad that finished sixth in the SEC Eastern Division.

OLE MISS-VANDERBILT SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 103rd meeting between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the hardwood. The Commodores hold a 64-38 lead in the series, which began in 1925. The Rebels have won eight straight against Vanderbilt at home and enjoy a 27-18 edge in Oxford. The last Commodore win at Tad Smith Coliseum came during the 1987-88 season, 60-57. Overall, Ole Miss has won three of the last four meetings with the Dores. Vanderbilt took last year's meeting 76-68 in Nashville despite a game-high 26 points by Justin Reed. Rebel head coach Rod Barnes is 3-2 versus Vanderbilt and 2-0 against the Comodores in Oxford.

QUOTING BARNES: "Vanderbilt has a very good team. They have some upperclassmen, and they're a team that has been together [for awhile]. We had a tough loss against Florida, and we can't wait to get [to the Vanderbilt game].

SEC STARS FACE OFF: Wednesday's matchup features the Southeastern Conference's top two scorers and two of its best all-around players in Justin Reed for the Rebels and Matt Freije for the Commodores. The following chart displays where the two measure up in the conference statistical charts:

Reed		SEC Categories		Freije
18.2/2nd		Scoring			18.9/1st
7.7/5th		Rebounding		5.8/14th
18.7/3rd		Scoring in SEC Play	18.8/2nd
6.2/12th		Rebounding in SEC		5.8/14th
CHART CLIMBERS: Rebel seniors Justin Reed and Aaron Harper continue to soar up the Ole Miss all-time scorers list. With his 20-point night against Florida, Reed moved into the top five for career points with 1,695, passing Ole Miss great Keith Carter (1996-99). Earlier this season, Reed, a three-time All-SEC forward, became only the fifth Rebel to rank top 10 in both points and rebounds. Harper is set to join Reed on the top-10 scorers chart, as the 6-foot-7 swingman sits 12 points away from tying former Rebel star Ansu Sesay (1995-98) for 10th. He also needs only 10 more steals to enter the top 10 in that category. Harper is already Ole Miss' all-time leader in three-pointers with 266.

HOT SHOOTING ... FROM BOTH SIDES: Ole Miss has been shooting well over the last three games, but unfortunately has run into some even hotter shooting foes. The Rebels have posted a 48-percent shooting clip over the last three games, including a season-best 58-percent outing against Auburn. Aaron Harper has led the surge, shooting 54 percent and averaging 21.7 points. However, Ole Miss has also run into some red hot teams recently. Tennessee managed a 55.6 field goal percentage, and Florida recorded a 54.2 percentage. In the second half of Saturday's game, the Rebels shot 51.7 percent and played tight defense against a Gator squad that was simply on fire, shooting 66.7 percent.

"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 11-4 home record this season and turned in a 10-6 mark in 2002-03. Ole Miss has won 108 of its last 123 games (.878 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 133-28 (.826 winning pct.). The Rebels have an all-time record of 345-166 (.675 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 75-18 (.806 winning percentage), including a 31-15 homecourt record against SEC foes (.674 winning percentage).

10 CENT: Although not pilling up the points, Todd Abernethy has been dishing out the dimes in his rookie campaign. The freshman point guard turned in another impressive outing Saturday against Florida with six assists and no turnovers while picking up six points. At Georgia, Abernethy collected a career-high seven assists without turning the ball over. The Carmel, Ind., native would be leading the SEC in assist/turnover ratio at 2.72 if his assist-per-game average of 2.96 inched up to the league statistical minimum of 3.00.

SEC'S TOP TANDEM: The Rebels continue to boast two of the top scorers in the Southeastern Conference in seniors Justin Reed and Aaron Harper, who scored 20 and 19 Saturday against Florida. Reed and Harper form the top scoring duo in the SEC at 18.6 (2nd) and 16.9 (9th), respectively. They are also No. 1 in league play and equally tough with Reed at 18.7 (3rd) and Harper at 17.0 (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.

 

 

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