Rebel Basketball Game Notes
March 4, 2005
REGULAR-SEASON FINALE: Ole Miss (13-15, 4-11) vs. South Carolina (14-12, 6-9)
REBS CLOSE REGULAR SEASON AT USC: Ole Miss wraps up the regular season Sunday at South Carolina. The Rebels and Gamecocks will match up again four days later in the SEC Tournament first round for the third time in the last four years. Ole Miss dropped a 58-53 battle to LSU Wednesday in the home finale. Senior forward Marvin Moore registered his sixth double-figure scoring game in SEC play with game-highs of 15 points and 8 rebounds. Sophomore guard Todd Abernethy posted 12 points and is averaging 13.0 over the last two games. The Rebels have dropped nine games by 11 points or less, including seven of the team's 11 SEC losses.
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 126-91 record. Barnes' 126 coaching victories in his first 217 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .581 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 SOUTH CAROLINA: After a 73-61 upset of third-ranked Kentucky on Feb. 15, South Carolina has dropped four straight, including a 75-65 defeat at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. However, the Gamecocks have collected a 12-3 record at the Colonial Center this season, with losses only to Clemson, Auburn and Florida. The No. 1 USC option has been senior forward Carlos Powell, who ranks top-10 in the conference in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (6.5). Powell is shooting an SEC-best 53.6 percent in league play. Josh Konner, Tarence Kinsey and Tre' Kelley are all chipping in 9 points per game, and Kelley, a sophomore point guard, is tallying 3.4 assists. Sophomore forward Renaldo Balkman is grabbing 5.3 boards per outing. USC head coach Dave Odom is in his fourth year at the helm and returns nine letterwinners and three starters from last year's 23-11 squad that earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
OLE MISS-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Sunday's game will be the 20th time the two schools have faced each other on the hardwood. Ole Miss leads the series 10-9, and has won five of the last seven meetings. USC enjoys a 5-1 edge in Columbia. Last year, the Rebels knocked off the 23rd-ranked Gamecocks 79-68 in Oxford. The two schools met only once prior to South Carolina joining the Southeastern Conference in the 1991-92 season. The two teams played in the Gulf-South Tournament in the 1960-61 season, with the Gamecocks taking an 85-79 decision. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 6-3 vs. South Carolina and 1-2 against the Gamecocks in Columbia.
QUOTING BARNES: "Our guys have been able to put themselves in many opportunities to win games. We are playing some really tough games, but just not doing enough to turn those close games into wins. But we are seeing some good things about us right now. It's tough to have to go to South Carolina the last game of the regular season, but that's just the way it is. We are trying to win games. Whatever it takes, that is what we are going to do."
FAMILIAR REMATCH: The Rebels and Gamecocks will match up again on Thursday in game one of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta. It will mark the third time in the last four seasons for Ole Miss to take on South Carolina in the first round and the sixth time to play USC in the tournament since 1994 -- more than any other conference foe over that span. In all five seasons, the teams split their regular season and SEC Tournament meetings. Four of the five tourney encounters were staged in the first round, while the 1998 meeting was in the semifinals. The Rebels prevailed in two of the last three SEC Tournament games, including the last bout in 2003, 62-56.
COMING UP SHORT: Ole Miss has been on the short end of some heartbreaking battles, particularly in conference play. The Rebels have dropped nine games by 11 points or less, including seven of the team's 11 SEC losses. Ole Miss either led or was within two possessions inside the final minute in six of the 11 SEC defeats. 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 in Starkville.
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 20 games off the pine, he has posted eight double-figure scoring outings and seven games with four or more assists. In the last two games, Abernethy has averaged 13.0 points and hit 5-of-9 threes. He totaled 12 points against LSU Wednesday, and paced the Rebels against Mississippi State in Starkville with 14 points along with 5 assists. Abernethy also put up strong numbers in the first meeting with Mississippi State, equaling his season-high for assists with 6 to go with 11 points and 4 boards. 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.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Rod Barnes' trademark defense has continued to key the Rebels' success. On Wednesday, Ole Miss handcuffed LSU to 37.8 percent from the field, in one of six times this season an opponent has been held in the 30s in shooting percentage. The Rebels also restricted the touted Tiger frontcourt of Brandon Bass and Glen Davis to combined 3-of-18 shooting. Ole Miss limited Georgia to 33.3 percent shooting and held UGA leading scorer Levi Stukes 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 in Starkville with 19. The Rebels rank fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (64.0), 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 11 foes under 60 points, including LSU Wednesday with 58.
MARVELOUS MARVIN: Over the second half of the season, senior forward Marvin Moore has displayed the talents that made him one of the nation's top juco players at Southern Union Community College, where he averaged 23.1 points and 9.9 rebounds as a sophomore in 2002-03. In conference play, Moore has registered six double-digit outings and his first two career 20-point performances. Returning to his home state of Alabama, Moore lit up Auburn for 23 points and 12 boards, doubling his previous career highs in the Red and Blue. Making only his third career start, Moore recorded his first double-double as a Rebel and grabbed all 7 of the team's offensive boards. He followed up with a big boost off the bench in the win over Georgia with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Prior to those two games when he shot 72.2 percent (13-for-18), Moore had notched only one previous double-digit scoring outing -- 10 points in his Rebel debut against Arkansas State last year. Moore blew up again against Arkansas at home with game-highs of 22 points and 8 rebounds along with 4 assists. He hit double-figures at Vanderbilt with 10 points and tallied 11 points and 5 boards at Florida. Moore led the Rebels vs. LSU at home with team-highs of 15 points and 8 rebounds.
FINISHING STRONG: Kendrick Fox is in the midst of one of the most productive stretches in his four years in the Red and Blue. Over the last four contests, Fox has averaged 11.5 points and knocked down 11-of-22 three-pointers (.500). He notched 13 big points at Mississippi State last 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 -- 14 percent higher than his 37.3 three-point clip at home.
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.
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