Rebels Host Alabama In Regular Season Finale

March 1, 2001

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Game #29 - Jefferson Pilot-TV
20/19 Alabama (20-8, 8-7)
vs. 14/12 Ole Miss (22-6, 10-5)
Saturday, March 3, 2001 - 3:07 p.m. (CT) tip
Tad Smith Coliseum - Oxford, Miss.

Rebels on Television and Radio
Television: Jefferson Pilot (Tom Hammond, play-by-play, Larry Conley, color analyst, Roger Roebuck, producer, Jimmy Moore, director)

Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play, Sean Tuohy, color analyst, Stan Sandroni, pregame/halftime/postgame host)

The Ole Miss Rebels (22-6, 10-5 SEC) close out regular-season play against the Alabama Crimson Tide (20-8, 8-7 SEC) Saturday, Mar. 3 at Tad Smith Coliseum. The game, which will be televised by Jefferson Pilot, is scheduled for a 3:07 p.m. (CT) tip. Ole Miss, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, has won seven of its last nine games, but dropped a 78-77 overtime decision at LSU Feb. 28. Alabama has lost three straight, including a 66-63 setback to Arkansas.

Rod Barnes is in his third season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program. He has an overall record of 61-33 (.649 winning percentage). In his first two seasons, Barnes compiled a 39-27 record, and the 39 victories are the most by a Rebel coach in his first two years in Ole Miss history. Last year, Barnes guided Ole Miss to a 19-14 overall record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Rebels advanced to the NIT quarterfinals for the second time in school history. The winning season and postseason tournament both were the fourth straight for the Ole Miss program.

In 1998-99, Barnes led Ole Miss to a 20-13 overall record and a third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Satartia, Miss., native was the first head coach in the history of Rebel basketball to win 20 games in his first season. Barnes also guided the Rebels to a 72-70 win over Villanova in the NCAA Tournament first round, marking the program's first-ever victory in NCAA play.

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 (17th, 1,201 points), assists (2nd, 456) and steals (6th, 154).

Saturday's game will be the 147th meeting between the two schools. The Crimson Tide hold a 104-42 lead in the series, which began in 1921. Earlier this year, Alabama defeated Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa, 82-63. Last season, the teams split their two meetings with Alabama winning in Tuscaloosa, 96-67, and Ole Miss winning in Oxford, 63-59. Alabama holds a 35-31 lead in games played in Oxford. Ole Miss, however, has won the last three meetings in Oxford. The last Alabama win in Tad Smith Coliseum came in the 1996-97 season, a 59-46 victory. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 2-3 versus Alabama and 2-0 against the Crimson Tide in Oxford.

The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll, enters Saturday's regular-season finale with a 20-8 overall record and an 8-7 Southeastern Conference mark. Alabama has dropped three straight games, including a 66-63 setback to Arkansas in Tuscaloosa Wednesday. Rod Grizzard, a candidate for SEC Player of the Year, leads four Alabama players averaging in double figures at 17.4 ppg. Erwin Dudley (14.1 ppg), Terrance Meade (10.8 ppg) and Gerald Wallace (10.1 ppg) are also averaging double digits in scoring for the Crimson Tide. Dudley leads the team and SEC in rebounding with a 9.5 average. Travis Stinnett is the squad's top three-point threat, hitting 46 percent from the arc. Alabama is shooting 43.1 percent from the field, 32.5 percent from the three-point line, and 70 percent from the charity stripe. The Crimson Tide is out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 7.2 boards per game (42.5-35.3).

Entering the final game of the regular season, the race in the Southeastern Conference Western Division is coming down to the wire. With its victory over Auburn Feb. 24, Ole Miss claimed at least a share of this year's SEC Western Division title. Another victory would give the Rebels the out-right Western Division championship. Arkansas can still tie Ole Miss for the Western Division title, with a victory over Georgia and a Rebel loss to Alabama Saturday.

Despite their loss at LSU Feb. 28, the Rebels are still the No. 1 seed for the Southeastern Conference Tournament Mar. 8-11 in Nashville, Tenn. Even if Ole Miss and Arkansas tie (both with 10-6 league records) for the SEC Western Division title, the Rebels would be the top seed by virtue of sweeping the season series versus the Razorbacks. As a result, the Rebels will open tournament play at 12 p.m. (CT) Mar. 9 against the winner of Tennessee-Auburn/Miss. St.

Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes may have to clear some space in his trophy case after this season is over, as he is up for several coach of the year honors. Barnes received his first accolade Mar. 1 when he was named SEC Coach of the Year by, a college basketball internet magazine. Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince was named the league's Player of the Year by the internet site.

REBELS CELEBRATE "SENIOR DAY" Ole Miss will honor four members of the 2001 senior class Saturday. The 2001 seniors are Jason Flanigan (Little Rock, Ark.), Rahim Lockhart (Mendenhall, Miss.), John Engstrom (Paragould, Ark.) and Jason Holmes (Tylertown, Miss.). The quartet has averaged 20 victories per season, and is the only class in Rebel basketball history to do so. The 2001 seniors will also earn a fourth straight postseason berth this year, becoming the first class to play in four straight postseason tournaments since the 1983 class did so. The 1983 seniors participated in one NCAA (1981) and three NITs (1980, 1982, 1983).

SUCCESS ON "SENIOR DAY" The Rebels have been rather successful in sending their seniors off on a good note in recent years. Since the 1990-91 season, Ole Miss has a 7-3 record in "Senior Day" games. The Rebels have won their last five "Senior Day" games, including a 63-59 win over Alabama last year. The last time Ole Miss dropped a "Senior Day" contest was the 1994-95 campaign.

What a difference a year makes. Despite their 78-77 overtime loss at LSU Feb. 28, the Rebels still have an 11-3 record in games decided by single digits (nine points or less). Ole Miss' two other setbacks by single digits were to Iowa State (73-68) and Georgia (70-66). Last season, Ole Miss had a 6-8 record in single-digit contests.

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.

This year's senior class of Jason Flanigan, Rahim Lockhart and Jason Holmes and junior redshirt John Engstrom is at the head of all the classes in Ole Miss basketball history. With the Rebels' victory over Auburn Feb. 24, the 2000-01 senior class has 83 wins, the most victories by a class in a four-year span. The 83 victories surpass the previous mark of 74 wins by the 1998-99 class of Hunter Carpenter, Keith Carter, Jason Smith and Michael White. The 2000-01 senior class has also been a part of the 1998 and 2001 SEC Western Division championship squads and has been to three straight postseasons (2 NCAA, 1 NIT).

That's what the Rebels are hoping for Saturday. Ole Miss has already clinched a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division title, but the Rebels would like the championship out-right. So far, all the omens point to that.

In 1996-97 and 1997-98, Ole Miss had a 4-2 record versus the SEC Eastern Division, a 4-4 road record in league play and sealed the title with victory in its final home game (74-68 win over LSU in 1996-97, 74-67 win over Auburn in 1997-98) in the final week of the campaign. This season, the Rebels were 4-2 against the SEC East and posted a 4-4 record on the road in league. Ole Miss now has the chance to clinch the title out-right with a home win versus Alabama Saturday.

The 2000-01 Rebels are sure making their mark in Ole Miss basketball history, and they are continuing to climb up the single-season victory chart. Ole Miss has a current record of 22-6, and the 22 wins are tied for the most in Rebel basketball history. The school record for most victories in a season is 22 by the 1937-38, 1997-98 and 2000-01 teams.

With their win over Auburn Feb. 24, the Rebels clinched at least a tie for the Southeastern Conference Western Division title. It is Ole Miss' third SEC Western Division championship in the last five years. Since the league went to the two-division format in 1991-92, the Rebels have won the second most SEC West titles.

Saturday's game will be the sixth time this season that Ole Miss will play a ranked team, while it will be Alabama's fifth ranked opponent. The Rebels are 3-2 versus ranked opponents, defeating Oklahoma (60-55), Southern Cal (84-83, ot) and Tennessee (87-71) and falling to Alabama (82-63) and Florida (75-55). The Crimson Tide have a 1-3 record versus ranked opponents, defeating Ole Miss (82-63) and dropping decisions to Cincinnati (77-74, ot), Tennessee (86-69) and Florida (89-68).

The Rebels have, indeed, been one of the Southeastern Conference's most successful teams in recent years - especially since 1996-97. Ole Miss has won 103 games (overall games) since 1996-97, the most by any team in the SEC Western Division. The 103 victories are also second among all league teams, trailing only Kentucky's 140 wins.

Ole Miss will be making its 15th television appearance of the year Saturday when the Rebels meet Alabama on Jefferson Pilot. In the month of January, Ole Miss appeared before the television cameras five straight games from Jan. 13 through Jan. 31 (Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Arkansas). This season, Ole Miss has a 10-4 record in television games, including an 87-71 win over Tennessee in the Rebels' last tv contest Feb. 10. The Rebels have appeared on television over 40 times the past four seasons. Last year, Ole Miss had 11 television contests, and posted a 6-5 record in those games.

Yes, the school-record 29-game homecourt winning streak came to an end in the 1998-99 season, but Tad Smith Coliseum (a.k.a. the "Tad Pad") is still one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. Ole Miss has won 77 of its last 85 games (.906 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 15 and 29 games. The Rebels are 14-1 at Tad Smith Coliseum this season, with the loss coming to Georgia Jan. 13. That loss ended a 12-game homecourt win streak. Ole Miss also owns the third longest homecourt winning streak versus non-conference opponents in the nation at 43 straight (Maryland is first at 77 straight). In the past nine seasons (1992-present), Ole Miss has an overall home record of 105-29 (.784 winning percentage).

With their victory over No. 14-ranked Oklahoma Dec. 2, the Rebels posted their 300th victory in Tad Smith Coliseum. Ole Miss has an all-time record of 310-155 (.667 winning percentage) at the "Tad Pad." Tad Smith Coliseum opened in the 1965-66 season.

Ole Miss has a 12-5 record (.706 winning percentage) versus ranked opponents at Tad Smith Coliseum since the beginning of the 1994-95 season. Alabama will be the third ranked opponent that Ole Miss has played at home during the 2000-01 season. The Rebels defeated No. 14 Oklahoma, 60-55 on Dec. 2 and No. 10 Tennessee, 87-71 on Feb. 10.

Prior to the 1999 Auburn loss (1998-99 season), Ole Miss had won six straight versus ranked opponents at the "Tad Pad." During that streak, the Rebels defeated Temple (#18), South Carolina (#11) and Arkansas (#12) in 1997-98, Kentucky (#3) in 1996-97, and Auburn (#21) and Mississippi State (#25) in 1995-96. Ole Miss' first win over a ranked opponent since the 1994-95 season was a 76-71 win over No. 3 Arkansas on Jan. 4, 1995. Last year, Ole Miss was 2-2 versus ranked opponents at home. (NOTE: Ole Miss lost to No. 5 Kentucky in the 1994-95 season, but that home game was played at The Pyramid in Memphis.)

When the Rebels and Crimson Tide meet on Saturday, it will provide SEC fans with a match-up between two young guns in the league in Ole Miss' Justin Reed (Jackson, Miss.) and Alabama's Gerald Wallace. Reed was rated among the top 50 seniors in the nation last season, while Wallace was the consensus 2000 National Player of the Year.

Senior Rahim Lockhart is picking up where he left off last year - doubling his pleasure. Lockhart came into the 2000-01 season with 14 career double-doubles, and he recorded his 22nd double-double performance versus Auburn Feb. 24 (16 points-13 rebounds).

Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes was selected as one of 20 finalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Feb. 22. Barnes is one of three SEC coaches up for the honor, as Florida's Billy Donovan and Alabama's Mark Gottfried also made the list. Other finalists are: Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Notre Dame's Mike Brey, North Carolina's Matt Doherty, Georgia State's Lefty Driesell, Georgetown's Craig Esherick, Iowa State's Larry Eustashy, Virginia's Pete Gillen, Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, St. Joseph's Phil Martelli, Stanford's Mike Montgomery, Arizona's Lute Olson, Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson, Illinois' Bill Self, Boston College's Al Skinner, and Kansas' Roy Williams.

No, Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes did reach his 60th birthday (not even close for the 35-year-old, by the way). Barnes posted his 60th victory as head coach at Ole Miss with the Rebels' 67-61 win over South Carolina Feb. 17. He has a current record of 61-33, and reached the 60-win plateau the fastest of any coach in Rebel basketball history.

Earlier this season, Barnes won his 50th game as Ole Miss head coach with the Rebels' 84-83 overtime victory over No. 13-ranked Southern Cal Dec. 22.

Redshirt freshman Josh Hayes (Little Rock, Ark.) showed his deadly aim from the three-point arc earlier this season when he hit six treys in the Rebels' victory over Troy State Dec. 18. In recent games, the 6-foot-7 guard is proving he can knock down the three-pointer at key times for Ole Miss.

In the Rebels' setback at LSU Feb. 28, Hayes had his best SEC game in an Ole Miss uniform with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 from the arc. Eight of his 10 points came in the first half, helping the Rebels hold on to their narrow margin.

Against Mississippi State Feb. 14, Hayes' trey could not have come at a more crucial time for Ole Miss. With the Rebels trailing 38-31 and struggling to hit a shot from the three-point arc, Hayes stepped up with a big trey to start a 9-0 run that led to a 40-all tie. Ole Miss went on to win the game, 51-48.

Three days later (Feb. 17) at South Carolina, he nailed a first-half trey to extend the Rebels' lead to 22-15 and keep Ole Miss' momentum going. In the Rebels' victory over Auburn Feb. 24, Hayes hit a first-half three-pointer to close a 7-2 game-opening run.

In the last five games, Hayes is hitting 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from the arc. For the season, he is shooting 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the three-point line.

With his 15-point performance in the Rebels' victory over Mississippi State Feb. 14, senior Rahim Lockhart became the latest member to join the Ole Miss 1,000-point club. The 6-foot-8 forward now has 1,064 points after scoring 18 points versus LSU Feb. 28, and is No. 23 on the Rebel career scoring chart.

Well, for the Rebels, it seems as if that number is 70. Since the 1996-97 season and including this campaign, Ole Miss has an incredible 83-10 record (.892 winning percentage) when it scores 70 points or more. On the other hand, the Rebels are 19-39 when they net less than 70 points during that five-year period (including 2000-01). This season, Ole Miss has a 12-1 record when scoring 70 points or more, with the lone setback a 78-77 overtime loss at LSU Feb. 28.

As discussed in the previous note, the Rebels have been nearly unbeatable when they score 70 points or more. However, the 2000-01 Rebels are proving they can win games when they don't reach that magical number of 70. Ole Miss is 10-5 this year when scoring less than 70 points.

With his 12-rebound performance versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff Nov. 18, senior Rahim Lockhart became the 15th player in Rebel basketball history to grab 500 boards in a career. He now has 730 career rebounds, after grabbing three boards versus LSU Feb. 28. Lockhart is in the No. 6 spot on the Ole Miss career rebounding list, and needs 25 more rebounds to take over the No. 5 spot currently held by Coolidge Ball (1971-74, 754 career rebounds). Lockhart entered the 1999-2000 season with 278 boards, and with his 220 rebounds in 1999-2000, he had 498 rebounds coming into the 2000-01 campaign.

Freshman Justin Reed tied his career high in scoring with 21 points in the Rebels' victory over Auburn Feb. 24. He also tied his career high of nine field goals versus the Tigers, hitting 9-of-14 from the field (64.3 percent). Earlier this season, the 6-foot-8 forward had 21 points and nine field goals against Georgia (Jan. 13).

They say the big players step up in "primetime." Well, there's nothing more "primetime" than SEC play, and freshman Justin Reed is making his presence known in the league. In 15 SEC games, Reed has netted double figures in 12 contests, including a career-high 21 points versus Georgia Jan. 13 and Auburn Feb. 24. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 13.1 points (leads team) and 6.3 boards (second on team) in SEC games only.

Ole Miss has a reputation for playing tough, "in-your-face" defense. Lately, the Rebels have not only been in their opponents' faces but also their passing lanes. In Ole Miss' last 11 games (8-3 record), the Rebels have forced their opponents into 209 turnovers (19.0 per game). In its first four conference games, Ole Miss forced only 54 turnovers (13.5 per contest).

The old saying is that defense wins championships. If that is the case, Ole Miss may be in contention for a title in 2000-01, especially if the Rebels can continue to hassle the opposition with their defensive pressure. Ole Miss is holding its opponents to an average of 63.6 points per game, which leads the SEC.

When Rob Evans took over the Rebel program in the 1992-93 season, he said his squads were going to play defense - and they did. That emphasis on defense has continued under Rod Barnes. This season, Ole Miss has held 10 opponents under 60 points, including four SEC teams. The Rebels held Arkansas (53-48 Ole Miss win) Jan. 10, Kentucky (65-55 Ole Miss win) Jan. 20, LSU (50-33 Ole Miss win) Feb. 7 and Mississippi State (51-48 Ole Miss win) Feb. 14 to under 60 points. Last year, Ole Miss held nine opponents to under 60 points, but only one league team.

Since the 1992-93 season, the campaigns in which the Rebels held the most opponents under 60 points were 1996-97 and 2000-01. The 1996-97 year also saw Ole Miss hold 10 opponents to under 60 points, including five SEC squads. The 1996-97 season was the Rebels' first SEC Western Division title.

The Rebels haven't had a reputation for hitting a high percentage >from the charity stripe the last couple of seasons, especially down the stretch in games. However, that may be changing in 2000-01. Ole Miss is hitting 64.5 percent from the foul line for the season (11th in the SEC), but more importantly, the Rebels are hitting their foul shots when they count, despite their 2-of-8 showing versus Auburn Feb. 24. In their wins over Sam Houston State, VCU, Oklahoma, Memphis, Southern Illinois, Southern Cal, Vanderbilt, Arkansas (both games), Kentucky, Auburn (both games), Tennessee, Mississippi State (second game) and South Carolina, the Rebels shot 71.5 percent from the line (113-of-158) in the final four minutes (and overtime) of those games.

The 2000-01 Rebels posted their 20th victory with a 51-48 win over Mississippi State Feb. 14, marking the fastest any team in Ole Miss basketball history has reached the 20-win plateau in a season. The 2000-01 team recorded its 20th win in only 24 games. The previous quickest climb to 20 victories was by the 1936-37 and 1997-98 squads. Both teams reached 20 wins in their 25th games.

The Rebels won their 20th game of the season with a 51-48 victory over Mississippi State Feb. 14. Ole Miss now has a 22-6 record after its setback to LSU Feb. 28. It is the fourth time in the last five seasons that Ole Miss has won 20 or more games. The 1996-97 (20-9 record), 1997-98 (22-7) and 1998-99 (20-13) also posted 20-win campaigns.

In its history, Ole Miss has had six 20-win teams. They were 1936-37 (20-6), 1937-38 (22-12), 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99 and 2000-01.

Ole Miss was the first team in the SEC to reach the 20-win plateau in the 2000-01 season. The Rebels are 22-6 and one of only four 20-victory squads in the Southeastern Conference (Alabama, Florida and Tennessee are the others).

This is the third time in the program's history that Ole Miss has been the first SEC squad to reach 20 wins. The 1936-37 (20-6 record) and 1937-38 (22-12 record) teams also were first among SEC schools to reach the magic number of 20 wins in a season. In fact, the 1936-37 and 1937-38 Ole Miss teams were the only 20-win squads in the SEC those two seasons.

The 2000-01 senior class set the record for most wins in a four-year span earlier this year, breaking the previous record of 74 victories. Now, the senior class has accomplished another first in Rebel history. With Ole Miss' victory over Tennessee Feb. 10, this class posted its 80th victory and is the first three or four-year senior class to average 20 victories per season.

Freshman Justin Reed doubled his pleasure for a third time this season versus South Carolina Feb. 17. The 6-foot-8 forward scored 18 points and had 11 boards in the 67-61 victory over the Gamecocks. Reed's first double-double in SEC play came against Georgia Jan. 13, when he scored a career-high tying 21 points and grabbed 12 boards in the 70-66 setback to the Bulldogs. His first collegiate double-double was a 16 point-13 rebound performance in the Rebels' 88-84 overtime victory over VCU Nov. 25. Reed also hit a career-high tying nine field goals versus Georgia. For the season, he is averaging 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds.

For the second time this season, a Rebel opponent did not guard Jason Harrison (Little Rock, Ark.) close enough. And, for the second time this year, the junior made the opposition pay. The 5-foot-5 guard tied a career high with four three-pointers in Ole Miss' setback at Florida Feb. 21. Earlier this season, Harrison hit four treys in the Rebels' 65-55 victory over Kentucky Jan. 20. For the season, Harrison has hit 34 treys and is shooting 43 percent from the arc.

Junior Jason Harrison has put his name on the Ole Miss career three-pointers made list. The 5-foot-5 guard jumped into the top five with his two treys versus Troy State Dec. 18, and now is in the No. 4 spot with 111. Up next for Harrison is Joezon Darby (1996-98), who is No. 3 with 131 career treys.



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