Rebel Basketball Game Notes
Feb. 24, 2005
Game 27: Ole Miss (13-13, 4-9) vs. Mississippi St. (19-8, 7-6)
REBS AIM FOR WIN STREAK: Following a midweek break, Ole Miss looks for a second straight win Saturday at Mississippi State. The Rebels snapped a three-game skid last time out with a 60-58 victory over Tennessee. Senior forward Tommie Eddie turned in his sixth game of 18-plus points with 21 to take over the team lead in scoring (11.4). Senior forward Kendrick Fox posted 13 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Over the last two games, Fox has made 7-of-12 threes and averaged 12.5 points. Senior guard Justin Johnson hit double-figures for the third time in the last five games with 11 points along with three steals. With at least four games remaining, the Rebels have already equaled their win total from a year ago.
TIP-OFF CLUB TO HOST EVENTS: On Wednesday night, the Rebels host LSU in the 2004-05 home finale at 7 p.m., and following the game, the Ole Miss Tip-Off Club will hold a reception honoring the seniors and their families at Bofield's restaurant on Jackson Ave. Thursday night will be the Tip-Off Club's annual SEC Tournament send-off dinner at 6 p.m. in the coliseum tunnel area. The evening will feature a tour of the newly renovated locker room. Both events are free to Tip-Off Club members, and prospective members invited to attend. Membership applications will be available at the door.
BARNES IN SEVENTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in his seventh season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and recently took the bench for his 200th game as a head coach. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 126-89 record. Barnes' 126 coaching victories in his first 215 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .586 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of seven 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 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 MISSISSIPPI STATE: Mississippi State rose as high as 11th in the national rankings on Jan. 10, but has since dropped out of the polls. After a 14-2 start, the Bulldogs are 5-6 in their last 11 games, and snapped a two-game skid Wednesday at Georgia. Injuries have hit State in league play. Junior forward Winsome Frazier fractured his left foot in the first meeting with Ole Miss and missed eight games before returning three games ago. All-American senior forward Lawrence Roberts injured his right quadricep in last Saturday's Kentucky contest but played 36 minutes in Athens, posting 19 points and 12 rebounds. A National Player of the Year candidate, Roberts leads the SEC in rebounding at 11.0 and is third in scoring at 17.4. Coming off the bench since his return from injury, Frazier is pouring in 12.9 points per game. Fellow senior Shane Power is also in double-figures at 11.3 ppg and has made 51-of-119 (.429) from behind the arc. The only starter who is not a senior is sophomore point guard Gary Ervin, who ranks third in the SEC in assists at 5.04 per game. In his seventh year at the MSU helm, Rick Stansbury returns 10 players, including three starters, from last year's 26-4 squad that claimed the SEC regular-season title and reached the NCAA Tournament second round.
OLE MISS-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES: Saturday's game will the 231th meeting between the two schools, with the Bulldogs holding an all-time series lead of 129-101. State has won seven straight in the series, although all but one game was decided by 11 points or less. The Rebels led MSU by as much as 12 in this year's earlier meeting, but MSU rallied for the 87-76 win in Oxford. The Bulldogs hold a 84-23 series advantage in games played in Starkville, and have taken six straight over the Rebels in Humphrey Coliseum. The last time Ole Miss posted a win in Starkville was the 1997-98 campaign, an 82-78 victory on Feb. 21, 1998. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 3-10 against Mississippi State and 0-6 against the Bulldogs in Starkville.
QUOTING BARNES: (On playing Mississippi State) "Obviously it seems that their team is back. They will be at full strength. It is always a tough game, but we will go down there rested and prepared for the game. We will have to play really well to beat them on their home floor." (On Mississippi State's turnovers) "You have to look at how they are making the turnovers. It can have to do with concentration and confidence. Rick has been trying to play a lot of different players, and they don't have that flow and aren't playing together as they would if their other guys hadn't gotten hurt. We will go into the game and try to play how we can and try to get their turnover number up to 19 or 20. That's the only way we can win the basketball game." (On Winsome Frazier) "He is not where he was, but he is coming back to form. He is back to being active. More than anything, his presence on the floor has helped their basketball team. He can go off at anytime. We will take him as we did in the first game, knowing we have to focus on him."
A HEATED RIVALRY: Everyone knows how heated the rivalry is between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The two schools have turned it up a little more on the hardwood in recent years. In the 19 meetings between the two schools since the 1995-96 season, the average margin of victory has been only 8.3 points. In fact, 15 of the last 19 encounters have been decided by 11 points or less.
ROAD WARRIOR: Kendrick Fox has been a force of late, knocking down 7-of-12 three-pointers and averaging 12.5 points over the last two games. In the victory over Tennessee, the senior forward filled the stat line with 13 points, 4 rebounds, a career-high 7 assists and 3 steals. Against No. 24 Florida in Gainesville, Fox came out of the gates on fire, drilling 4-of-5 first-half treys en route to tying the team-lead in scoring with 12 points. It marked the third team in his career to pace the team or tie for the team-lead in scoring. It was also another example of Fox's hot-shooting on the road. Despite playing in his hometown of Oxford, Fox has been a road warrior throughout his career, and this year is no different. Fox is shooting 52.9 percent from behind the arc on the road -- nearly 16 percent higher than his 37.1 three-point clip at home.
IT'S A STEAL: The Rebels collected 13 steals in the last Saturday's win over Tennessee, marking the 11th time this season to clock in double-figure thefts. Cavadas Nunnery, Kendrick Fox and Justin Johnson each notched 3 steals against the Volunteers. Nunnery has notched at least 3 steals in six games this year, including the home win over Auburn when the Rebels tallied 14. Ole Miss is third in the SEC in steals at 8.19 spg, while Nunnery and Johnson are both among the top 8 individually in SEC play.
J.J. HEATS UP: Justin Johnson has provided Ole Miss a lift over the last five games, averaging 9.6 points, 2.0 steals and 50-percent three-point shooting (10-of-20). The senior forward led the Rebels in scoring for the first time in his career in the home win over Auburn and finished one point shy of his personal-high with 19 points -- his most since dropping 20 at Arkansas last year. He nailed a career-best 5-of-7 three-pointers and grabbed 3 steals. Two games later, Johnson paced Ole Miss with 11 points and 3-of-4 treys at Alabama. Last Saturday in the win over Tennessee, he again tallied 11 points along with 3 thefts. It was his seventh game in double-figures this season.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Rod Barnes' trademark defense has continued to key the Rebels' success. The Rebels rank third in the SEC in scoring defense (63.9), and limited Kentucky to 53 points -- the Wildcats lowest scoring output of the year and 22.6 below their average. Ole Miss held Alabama 14.8 points below their scoring average at 66. The Rebels have limited two opponents under 50 points this season (Southeastern Louisiana to 48 and Troy to 49), making 27 times in Barnes' seven years at the helm that the opposition was contained below 50. Last Saturday, the Rebels held their 10th opponent of the season under 60 points, as Tennessee could only muster 58. Ole Miss handcuffed Kentucky to 37.3 percent from the field, in one of five times this season an opponent has been held in the 30s in shooting percentage. The Rebels limited Georgia to 33.3 percent shooting and held UGA guard Levi Stukes, the SEC's fourth-leading scorer, to no field goals (0-for-8) and four points --13 below his average. Ole Miss also tallied 12 steals and pressured the Bulldogs into 21 turnovers. The Rebels have forced five opponents into 20-plus turnovers, including Tennessee with 22 last Saturday.
AWESOME EDDIE: Tommie Eddie's game-winning trey with 2.8 seconds left at VCU -- his first three-point attempt as a Rebel -- may have been the most memorable shot, but the senior forward has turned in several outstanding performances this season. Eddie has shot an outstanding 57.1 percent, and posted six games of 18 or more points, including 21 with 5 boards in last Saturday's win over Tennessee. He turned in an 18-point outing with 6 rebounds in the home victory over Auburn. Eddie also posted 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting against No. 18 Mississippi State and 16 points with 6 rebounds vs. 22nd-ranked Alabama. The Brooklyn native dropped in the Rebels' first 10 points in the 65-53 road win over Memphis and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and a career-high four assists. Eddie enjoyed perhaps his best game as a Rebel in the victory over Tennessee Tech, shooting a flawless 8-for-8 from the field en route to a career-high 24 points. Defensively, the Brooklyn native was also stellar against the Golden Eagles, registering a career-best four steals while helping limit Preseason All-American Willie Jenkins to two points. Eddie led the Rebels at LSU with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Ole Miss makes its eighth TV appearance of the season Saturday at Mississippi State on FSN South. The Rebels have at least 10 televised contests on the 2004-05 docket. The Rebels are 2-6 in TV games, with a 79-72 victory at Auburn and a 60-58 win over Tennessee, both on FSN South. Ole Miss also dropped nail-bitters to Florida State 69-64 (FSN), Mississippi State 87-76 (JP), Kentucky 53-50 (JP), Alabama 66-58 (JP) and Arkansas 66-65 (FSN). Under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), Ole Miss has played 86 television games and has a 44-43 record in those matchups.
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