Rebel Basketball Game Notes
March 1, 2005
HOME FINALE: Ole Miss (13-14, 4-10) vs. LSU (17-8, 10-4)
REBS HOST RIVAL LSU ON SENIOR NIGHT: Ole Miss hosts LSU Wednesday in the 2004-05 regular-season home finale. The Rebel senior class will be honored in pre-game ceremonies. In a classic battle of rivals Saturday, Ole Miss came up just short in an upset bid of Mississippi State, 71-68, in Starkville. The Rebels, who led by as much as 10, nearly tied the contest in the final moments, but Cavadas Nunnery's three-point attempt with 20 seconds left would not fall. Nunnery finished with 9 points and game-highs of 6 assists and 4 steals. Todd Abernethy drilled 3-of-5 threes and paced the Rebels off the bench with 14 points along with 5 assists. Kendrick Fox continued his strong play with 13 points, 4 boards and 3 assists.
TIP-OFF CLUB TO HOLD UPCOMING EVENTS: On Wednesday night, the Rebels take on 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 are 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 126-90 record. Barnes' 126 coaching victories in his first 216 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .583 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 LSU: LSU is the SEC's hottest club, riding a four-game win streak that includes victories over Mississippi State, No. 16 Alabama and No. 24 Florida. Winners in 11 of their last 14 games, John Brady's Fighting Tigers held off Auburn 77-64 on the Plains Saturday to move into a tie for the Western Division lead and clinch a first-round bye at the SEC Tournament. The young LSU frontcourt features two of the best forwards in the league in sophomore Brandon Bass and freshman Glen Davis. Bass is third in the league in scoring at 17.6, while Davis is notching 13.3 per game. Both players rank among the top four in the SEC in rebounding with Davis at 8.8 and Bass at 8.6. Point guard Tack Minor is second in the SEC in assists at 5.0 per outing, while guard Darrel Mitchell is among the league's best in steals (1.92) and three-point shooting (36.2 percent).
OLE MISS-LSU SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the 187th meeting between the two schools. The series with the Tigers, which began in 1909, is the second longest in Ole Miss basketball history. LSU leads the all-time series 109-77. In the last nine games, the Tigers hold a narrow 5-4 advantage and rallied from 10 down in the second half for a 70-60 win in Baton Rouge earlier this season. The Rebels hold a 48-30 lead in games played in Oxford. Ole Miss has taken three of the last four and nine of the last 11 meetings at Tad Smith Coliseum, including a 53-49 win a year ago. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 6-7 against LSU and 4-2 vs. the Tigers in Oxford.
QUOTING BARNES: "LSU is a tough team and they present problems for us with Brandon Bass and Glen Davis. Brandon really hurt us down there, and we have to try to slow him down. It will be senior night for us, so there will be a lot of emotions there. I think our players will be prepared to play."
SENIOR NIGHT: In pre-game ceremonies Wednesday, Ole Miss will be honoring one of its largest senior classes in history, as seven seniors will be playing their final game at the Tad Pad. The seven comprise the Rebels' largest senior class since the 1968-69 squad. The 1992-93 team was closest with six. The four players that are concluding their fourth season with the Rebels are Kendrick Fox (F, Oxford, Miss.), Justin Johnson (G, Fayetteville, N.C.), Cavadas Nunnery (G, Magnolia, Miss.) and Chris Rhodes (F, Houston, Texas). The three transfers that are wrapping up their second season are Tommie Eddie (F, Brooklyn, N.Y.), Ed Glass (G, St. Louis, Mo.) and Marvin Moore (F, Marion, Ala.).
ACADEMIC STAR: Todd Abernethy has been named to the 2005 SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll. The sophomore guard is a Business major with a 3.35 GPA. Abernethy was an SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll recipient in 2004, when he also earned SEC All-Freshman Team accolades.
FINISHING STRONG: Kendrick Fox is in the midst of the most productive three-game stretch in his four years in the Red and Blue. Over the last three contests, Fox has averaged 12.7 points and knocked down 9-of-17 three-pointers (.529). In the two games last week, he posted averages of 13.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Fox notched 13 big points at Mississippi State Saturday in helping the Rebels nearly pull off the upset. In the victory over Tennessee, the senior forward played 36 minutes and 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 time in his career to pace the team or tie for the team-lead in scoring. The efforts at Florida and Mississippi State are further proof 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 51.3 percent from behind the arc on the road -- over 14 percent higher than his 37.1 three-point clip at home.
CAJUN FEAST: Ole Miss faces a Louisiana opponent for the fifth time this season Wednesday. The Rebels are 3-1 against the state so far with wins over Nicholls State 87-55, Louisiana Monroe 84-58, and Southeastern Louisiana 64-48. LSU provided the lone blemish with the 70-60 win in Baton Rouge in January. Ole Miss is 173-186 all-time against Louisiana schools including such frequent foes as Tulane (35-55) and rival Tigers of LSU (77-109).
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Rod Barnes' trademark defense has continued to key the Rebels' success. The Rebels rank fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (64.4), 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. The Rebels have held 10 foes under 60 points, most recently Tennessee with 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 12 opponents into 18 or more turnovers, including Mississippi State with 19 Saturday.
SUPER SUB: Sophomore guard Todd Abernethy started the first 34 games of his collegiate career, but moved to the sixth-man role against Memphis in December. In his 19 games off the pine, he has posted seven double-figure scoring outings and seven games with four or more assists. Abernethy put up strong numbers in both meetings with Mississippi State. In the first bout in Oxford, he equaled his season-high for assists with 6 to go with 11 points and 4 boards. On Saturday, he paced the Rebels in Starkville with 14 points along with 5 assists. The Carmel, Ind., native topped Ole Miss in scoring in the win over Georgia with 13 points, and posted 9 points and 4 assists against both Vanderbilt and Alabama. Abernethy also grabbed a team-high 9 rebounds against the Commodores in a near-double-double.
"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 boasted a 12-5 home record last season and are 8-5 in 2004-05. Ole Miss has won 112 of its last 137 games (.818 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 29, 20 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 354-172 (.673 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 84-24 (.778 winning percentage), including a 35-20 homecourt record against SEC foes (.636 winning percentage).
COMING UP SHORT: The Rebels have been on the short end of some heartbreaking battles in conference play. Ole Miss held second-half leads in five of the 10 SEC defeats, and either led or was within two possessions inside the final minute of those five games. The Rebels led eighth-ranked Kentucky until the final 3:41, and had two shot attempts to tie the game in the 53-50 heartbreaker. Ole Miss was on top of No. 22 Alabama by as much as eight points in the second stanza, and held a three-point edge over Arkansas with 1:15 remaining. The Rebels held double-digit leads in both games with Mississippi State and missed the game-tying three with 20 ticks left on Saturday. Six of Ole Miss' 10 SEC losses have been decided by 11 points or less.
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 57.0 percent, and posted six games of 18 or more points, including 21 with 5 boards in the 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 and dropped in 10 points last time out at MSU.
SURPRISING HOME LOSSES: It's always surprising to see Ole Miss lose in the Tad Pad, but the Rebels have had some tough SEC results at home this season. Ole Miss has suffered four conference defeats in Oxford this year, the most since losing six in 2002-03 and only the second time since 1994-95 to drop more than three in Tad Smith Coliseum. However, the four home SEC losses have been by a total of 23 points (5.8 average margin), and three of the losses came to top-25 foes.
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