Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Feb. 27, 2004

GAME #25: Ole Miss (12-12, 4-9) vs. Alabama (14-10, 6-7)
February 28, 2004 * 3 p.m. CT
Coleman Coliseum * Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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MEDIA
TV: JP Sports (Dave Baker, play-by-play; Joe Dean, Jr., color analyst)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Gary Darby, color analyst)

OLE MISS LOOKS TO END SKID AT ALABAMA: Ole Miss tries to break a three-game losing streak Saturday at Alabama. The Rebels are in search their first SEC road win of the year and their first victory in Tuscaloosa since 1998, dropping five straight. The Rebels have already equaled their SEC win total of a year ago with four. Ole Miss fell to Vanderbilt Wednesday 77-65 despite a strong performance by the SEC's top duo. Rebel seniors Aaron Harper and Justin Reed poured in 29 and 21, respectively. Harper finished three assists shy of a triple-double with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Freshman Bam Doyne posted career highs in rebounds with seven and assists with three against the Commodores.

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 112-73 record (.605 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 ALABAMA: Alabama rolls into Saturday's game as winners in three of its last four games and fresh off consecutive road wins over SEC West rivals Mississippi State and Auburn. Kennedy Winston played a starring role for the Crimson Tide in both wins, posting 31 points and 11 rebounds against the fourth-ranked Bulldogs and following up with 27 points and seven boards on the Plains. A sophomore forward, Winston is the reigning SEC Co-Player of the Week and has risen to second in the SEC in scoring in league games at 19.1 per game. Junior guard Earnest Shelton, who missed the first Ole Miss meeting with a sprained MCL, is averaging 14.8 points for the season overall. Antoine Pettway, a senior guard, is heading the conference in assist/turnover ratio (2.25/1) while ranking second in steals (2.29 per game). Alabama tops the SEC in three-point percentage, shooting 38.5 percent from the arc. UA head coach Mark Gottfried is in his sixth year at the helm and returns nine letterwinners but only one starter from last year's 17-12 squad that finished fourth in the SEC West and earned an NCAA Tournament berth.

OLE MISS-ALABAMA SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 153rd meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide holds a 106-46 lead in the series, which began in 1921. Ole Miss took this season's first meeting 71-60 in Oxford behind Justin Reed's 28 points and 11 rebounds. The Tide holds a commanding 63-8 lead in games played in Tuscaloosa and has won six straight at Coleman Coliseum. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 6-5 versus Alabama and 0-5 against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

HOLDING COURT: In recent years, the Ole Miss-Alabama series has been a matter of location, location, location. In the last 11 meetings, the home team has prevailed, including this year's 71-60 Rebel victory in the Tad Pad. The last time the road team won was during the 1997-98 season, when Ole Miss pulled off a 74-63 victory in Tuscaloosa.

UNSTOPPABLE AARON: Once considered a streak shooter, Aaron Harper has been on one long hot streak since the second week of league play and has firmly established himself as one of the SEC's best scorers. After two rough outings to open the conference season, Harper has been on fire since, averaging 20.2 points over the last 11 SEC games. The SEC's leading scorer in league play is less than that mark at 19.4. Through the last four games, Harper has been even more impressive with averages of 23.5 points, 5.5 boards and 4.8 assists. Included in that stretch is a career-high 30-point night against Auburn and a 27-point performance vs. Vanderbilt. Harper has also been filling the stat line like none other. He nearly turned in a triple-double against the Commodores, adding 10 rebounds and seven assists. Harper is currently the only SEC player to rank top 10 in league play in points (7th at 17.9), assists (6th at 3.85), field goal percentage (7th at .459), three-point percentage (2nd at .432), threes made (3rd at 2.69), assist/turnover ratio (7th at 1.11) and defensive rebounding (10th at 4.08).

FAMILIAR FOES: Saturday's match-up between Ole Miss and Alabama will feature head coaches at the helm of basketball programs where they also played. Rod Barnes played at Ole Miss from 1985-88, and is the first Rebel head coach to have played his collegiate basketball at Ole Miss since Cob Jarvis. Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried played at his alma mater from 1985-87 and helped lead the Crimson Tide to three-consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. During their playing careers, Barnes' and Gottfried's teams met six times from 1984-85 to 1986-87. Gottfried's squads won all six meetings in those match-ups. Both Barnes and Gottfried became head coaches at their alma mater in 1998-99, and the home coach has won in all 11 meetings.

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, 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 joined Reed on the top-10 scorers chart, as the 6-foot-7 swingman tallied 29 points Wednesday vs. Vanderbilt to pass former Rebel star Ansu Sesay (1995-98) for 10th. He also needs only 10 more steals to enter the top nine in that category. Harper is already Ole Miss' all-time leader in three-pointers with 270 and needs 13 more to crack the SEC's all-time top five for career threes.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Saturday's game against Alabama, which is being broadcast by Jefferson Pilot Sports, will be the ninth regular-season contest in which the Rebels are on television. Ole Miss is 3-5 in its first eight 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 77 television games and has a 42-35 record in those contests.

ROAD WARRIOR: This season, Oxford native Kendrick Fox has certainly saved his best for when the Rebels are away from his hometown. The junior forward is scoring twice as many points on the road than at home at 8.8 ppg compared to 4.4 ppg at Tad Smith Coliseum. Fox is also shooting over 20 points higher from behind the arc at 52.9 percent as opposed to 29.4. Included in Fox's road performances is his career-high 17-point, five three-pointer outing at Evansville that propelled the Rebels to their first road win of the year. Fox also caught fire at Rupp Arena in Lexington, scorching Kentucky for four threes and 16 points.

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 21 and 29 Wednesday against Vanderbilt. Reed and Harper form the top scoring duo in the SEC at 18.7 (2nd) and 16.8 (9th), respectively. They are also No. 1 in league play and even tougher with Reed at 18.8 (3rd) and Harper at 17.9 (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.

 

 

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