Rebel Basketball Game Notes
March 7, 2006
SEC Tournament First Round
REBELS FACE WILDCATS IN FIRST ROUND: The Western Division No. 6 seed, Ole Miss opens SEC Tournament play Thursday against East No. 3 Kentucky. The Rebels dropped below .500 for the first time this season with Saturday's 55-52 loss at No. 21 LSU in the regular-season finale, in which Ole Miss had four shots to tie or take the lead in the final three minutes. Londrick Nolen topped the team in scoring for the fourth time in the last six games with 14 points. The senior forward is averaging 12.8 points and 5.7 rebounds over the last six. Sophomore center Dwayne Curtis notched his seventh double-double of the year with 11 points and 12 rebounds against the Tigers. The Rebels have already equaled their highest win total since 2001-02.
BARNES IN FINAL SEASON AT OLE MISS: Rod Barnes is in his eighth and final season at the helm of the Ole Miss men's basketball program. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 141-108 overall record. His .566 winning percentage is the highest by a Rebel coach since 1938, and the best of any Ole Miss mentor of seven-plus years. He ranks second on the Rebel career list for coaching victories, four behind B.L. "Country" Graham's school record of 145. 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 Rob Evans from 1993-98. During his time as an assistant coach, the Rebels compiled a record of 76-63 and won back-to-back SEC Western Division titles and received consecutive NCAA Tournament berths in 1997 and 1998. Barnes played at Ole Miss from 1984-88 and was an honorable mention All-America pick his senior season. He is the only person in SEC history to earn both All-SEC and SEC Coach of the Year honors. As a player, assistant and head coach, Barnes has spent 17 seasons with Ole Miss basketball.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Kentucky finished third in the SEC Eastern Division and failed to secure a first-round bye at the SEC Tournament for the first time since 1979. The Wildcats enter the tourney having won four of their last six games, despite Sunday's 79-64 loss to No. 14 Florida. Tubby Smith's Wildcats have a trio of sophomores leading the team in scoring and currently coming off the bench. After being suspended for the entire non-conference slate, forward Randolph Morris has posted 13.5 points and 5.8 rebounds since rejoining the squad and finished second in the SEC in field goal percentage in league play (.624). Guard Rajon Rondo is averaging 11.9 points and 6.0 boards and ranks among the overall conference leaders in assists (3rd at 4.72), steals (4th at 2.07) and assist/turnover ratio (4th at 1.93). Swingman Joe Crawford is adding 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds, while starting senior guard Patrick Sparks is contributing 9.0 points, 3.4 assists and a team-high 56 3-pointers (1.9 per game).
OLE MISS-KENTUCKY SERIES: Thursday's game will be the 104th meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats hold a 93-11 lead in the series, which began in 1925. Beginning with the 2001 SEC Tournament finals win in Nashville, Kentucky has taken six straight in the series, including this year's 80-40 UK win in Lexington in which Rebel leading scorer and rebounder Dwayne Curtis did not play. In last season's meeting, Ole Miss led the eighth-ranked Cats until the final 3:41, and had two shot attempts to tie the game in the 53-50 heartbreaker.
REBELS & WILDCATS IN THE SEC TOURNEY: The Wildcats are one of only three conference foes that the Rebels have never won an SEC Tournament game against, going 0-12 against Kentucky (Ole Miss did defeat UK 41-28 in the 1928 Southern Conference Tournament). The two teams' last SEC Tournament encounter was staged in the finals of the most recent tourney in Nashville in 2001, with the Cats prevailing 77-55. Kentucky has been the SEC Tournament's most successful team, turning in a 107-18 record in tourney play and capturing 25 of the 47 titles.
OLE MISS IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT: The Rebels have an overall record of 22-42 in Southeastern Conference Tournament play, and is 8-14 in tournament action since the league went to the two-division format in the 1991-92 season. Ole Miss has participated in 43 of the previous 45 SEC Tournaments.Last season, the team advanced to the second round before falling to Alabama. The Rebels have reached four SEC championship contests and have a 1-3 record in those games. Ole Miss took home the tournament title in 1981, defeating Georgia in the championship game.
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF OLE MISS' SEC TOURNAMENT TITLE TEAM: The 2006 SEC Tournament will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1980-81 Rebel team that won Ole Miss' lone SEC Tournament crown. The 1980-81 Ole Miss squad, under the direction of head coach Bob Weltlich, defeated Tennessee (81-71) and Vanderbilt (71-51) in reaching the 1981 SEC Tournament championship game against Georgia. The underdog Rebels, who finished sixth in the league in the regular season, captured the title with a 66-62 victory over the Bulldogs. Sean Tuohy, who is a member of this year's SEC Legends class, and Elston Turner earned All-Tournament Team honors. The title-game win also propelled the Rebels into their first NCAA Tournament.
REBELS RETURN TO NASHVILLE: This week, Ole Miss returns to the site of its most recent SEC Tournament finals appearance. The last league tourney at the Gaylord Center saw the Rebels knock off Tennessee and Florida en route to a championship game faceoff with Kentucky, in which the Wildcats prevailed 77-55. Ole Miss has a 2-3 record in the three SEC Tournaments that have taken place in Nashville.
BARNES IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT: Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes has a 5-7 record in Southeastern Conference Tournament play. Barnes, the 2001 Naismith National Coach of the Year, has directed his Rebels into the second round or better four times, including the 2001 championship game.
OLE MISS IN FIRST-ROUND PLAY: The Rebels have an overall record of 9-18 in first-round games at the SEC Tournament. The Rebels are 0-2 in first-round action in Nashville, having lost to home-state teams each instance. Ole Miss fell to Vanderbilt 77-57 in 1984 and Tennessee 94-85 in 1991. The 2001 Rebel squad earned a first-round bye.
NEXT UP: With an opening-round victory over Kentucky Thursday, Ole Miss would advance to face the West No. 2 seed Alabama Friday at 2:15 p.m. CT. The division rivals split their regular-season meetings with the visiting team winning in each contest. The Crimson Tide bounced the Rebels out of last year's SEC Tournament 69-52 in the second round.
TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: As part of the SEC Throwback Uniform program, all 12 conference schools will be wearing their throwback gear during this week's SEC Tournament. The Rebels will be dawning the uniforms they wore from 1978-79 to 1991-92. It was Ole Miss' uniform when it claimed the 1981 SEC Tournament title, and the old English lettering was sported by such Rebel greats as John Stroud, Carlos Clark, Sean Tuohy, Rod Barnes and Gerald Glass.
FAMILY TIES: Thursday's game is a special one for Ole Miss sophomore guard Brian Smith, as he will be opposing his famous father. The youngest son of UK coach Tubby Smith, Brian is the first of the three sons to not play for his dad. G.G. Smith was a 1998 All-SEC pick and four-year guard at Georgia 1996-99, while Saul started at the point on three SEC Champion Kentucky squads and played for the Wildcats 1998-2001.
SUMMER TEAMMATES: Ole Miss' Jermey Parnell and Kentucky's Ravi Moss competed as teammates in May, traveling together through the Far East on the Sports Reach team. The duo were among the leaders on the eight-man squad, which was comprised entirely of SEC players and posted a 7-0 mark in its tour.
FINISHING STRONG: Londrick Nolen is wrapping his two-year Rebel career in fine fashion, as the senior forward has topped the team in scoring four of the last six games and is averaging 12.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 50.8-percent shooting over that stretch. Notching his fourth career 20-point game, Nolen totaled a season-high 20 points, on 8-of-11 shooting, with 8 rebounds and 3 assists in guiding Ole Miss to victory over Arkansas. He followed up with a team-high 14 points at Mississippi State. Nolen narrowly missed his second career double-double with 12 points and 9 boards against Auburn and struck for 14 points and 7 rebounds at LSU Saturday. It marked the 26th time in his Rebel tenure to score double-figures and 11th instance this season. Nolen sparked the Rebels with pressure defense and 15 points in the victory at Alabama. The Memphis native tallied 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in the first LSU meeting and 9 points, 4 assists and 3 steals at Georgia.
D.C. PRESIDES OVER REBEL CHARGE: In his first season in the Red and Blue, sophomore center Dwayne Curtis has been a force for the Rebels this year. Curtis has scored in double-figures in 20 games with six 20-point outings and seven double-doubles, including his 11-point, 12-rebound effort at LSU Saturday. He also did a strong defensive job on Tiger forward Glen Davis, holding the all-star big man to only 3-of-5 field goals. Curtis missed the first Kentucky meeting and a week of action after the death of his brother on Feb. 17. Curtis returned to collect 18 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals against Auburn, whom he played for as a freshman. He followed up with 15 points and a career-high 5 steals in loss to Vanderbilt. Since his return home for the funeral, Curtis has averaged 14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals. Curtis tops Ole Miss in scoring (13.6), rebounding (7.6), steals (1.6), blocks (0.6) and field goal percentage (.568, which ranks second in the SEC). In non-conference play, the Chicago native scorched Centenary for 21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals and returned home to Chicago to hang 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocked shots on UIC. He provided 18 points and 12 rebounds against South Carolina State. At one point this season, Curtis reeled off four straight 20-point games. 6-foot-8, 290-pounder lit up Southeastern Louisiana for 23 points and 9 rebounds. He followed up with a career-high 25 points with 9 rebounds and 2 steals against Alcorn State, and totaled 21 points, 6 boards and 3 steals vs. Western Carolina. Curtis capped the streak with 21 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in directing the Rebels to their first win at Alabama since 1997-98. The performance earned him SEC Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He also punched in with 19 points and 13 rebounds in the home win over Arkansas.
CAPTAIN TODD: A career 38.5-percent 3-point shooter, two-year team captain Todd Abernethy has been particular accurate from behind the arc this year, boasting a season percentage of .426 (49-of-115). The junior guard was 4-of-7 from behind the arc against Mississippi State, 4-of-6 against Centenary and 3-of-4 vs. Nicholls and Southern Utah. The 2005 SEC Sixth Man of the Year, Abernethy is the only Rebel to start all 29 games this year. The Carmel, Ind., native clocked in with 8 points and 4 rebounds at LSU Saturday and had 6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in the previous game against Auburn. Abernethy notched his 12th and most recent double-digit scoring game of the year in the Arkansas win with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He posted 14 points and 4 assists at Tennessee and 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists at Auburn. Abernethy notched a team-high 4 assists at Mississippi State and was 2-of-4 in 3s in dropping in 8 points at Kentucky. After being winless in his first four career games against Mississippi State, Abernethy took charge in leading the Rebels past the rival Bulldogs on Jan. 14. He turned in his first career 20-point game with a career-high 22 along with 5 assists. Abernethy pumped in 17 in the second half and 7 in the final three minutes. His fourth 3-pointer of the game with 39 seconds left squashed MSU's final rallying efforts and ended the eight-game skid to the Dogs.
VIVA LA BAM: After two years in a lesser role, Bam Doyne has moved into the forefront as a key cog in the Rebel attack this season. The junior swingman is one of the club's top defenders but is also punching in the offense. After scoring 10 or more points only three times in his first two seasons, Doyne has notched double-figures 11 times this year and topped Ole Miss in scoring in five games including his 20-point effort in the LSU game at home. He was 6-of-7 shooting, 3-for-3 from the arc and 5-for-6 from the stripe in notching his third 20-point game of the year. Doyne led Ole Miss past South Carolina with 23 points, a career-high 9 rebounds and 5 assists and hit 2 key free throws with 9 ticks left. Doyne reached the 20-point plateau for the first time in his career earlier this season against Arkansas State, striking for 24 with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and drilling 4-of-4 free throws in the final 41 seconds to seal the win. He followed up that game with another clutch performance against Southeastern Louisiana, scoring 11 of his 15 points as part of the Rebels' game-winning, second-half rally. Doyne's crunch time antics came into play again in Wednesday's 73-70 win over Arkansas, when he drilled 2 free throws and grabbed the game's final rebound all in the last 9 seconds. In warrior fashion, Doyne played all 40 minutes at Alabama and notched 13 points and 6 rebounds. He also provided strong defense on the Tide's Ronald Steele, limiting the All-SEC guard to 0-of-10 shooting and 2 points. Doyne led the team in assists against Mississippi State with a career-high 6 along with 6 points and 5 rebounds. He failed to find his shooting touch at Tennessee, but pitched in with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Doyne added 12 points at Mississippi State and 10 against Auburn Saturday. The Little Rock native has started all but three games and ranks second on the club in assists (2.3) and steals (1.1). He is third in scoring (8.9) and rebounding (4.4).
HOT CLAY: Junior guard Clarence Sanders hit a hot streak in the middle of conference play, averaging 16.8 points over a five-game SEC stretch. The JUCO transfer exploded at Tennessee drilling 7 3-pointers -- the most ever by a Rebel against an SEC opponent and one shy of Keith Carter's school record from 1998. Sanders' 29 points equaled the most by an Ole Miss player since Aaron Harper hung 30 on Auburn in 2003-04. Sanders is second on the team in scoring, both overall (9.1) and in league play only (9.2). Sanders has shown to be a streaky scorer this season. He has posted seven games of 15 or more points, but also six games with 1 or no points. He had his first 20-point game as a Rebel against Arkansas State with 20 points and 4 3-pointers. However, Sanders followed up with 4 points vs. Southeastern Louisiana and 0 vs. Alcorn State. He returned to form against Western Carolina with 15, but was held scoreless in the next game at Alabama.
CURTIS AMONG SEC LEADERS: In his first season as a Rebel, sophomore center Dwayne Curtis is ranking among the SEC leaders in several categories. Here is how the transfer from Auburn stacks up in the league:
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Ole Miss has limited three opponents in the 40s in scoring this season, making 30 instances in Rod Barnes' eight years at the helm that the opposition was contained below 50. Nationally-ranked Memphis was held 17 points below its then scoring average. The Rebels contained Alabama to 38.2 percent shooting, South Carolina to 34.5 and LSU to 35.6 Saturday, making seven opponents this season to be held in the 30s from the field. The Gamecocks were also limited to 2-of-19 (.105) from 3-point range, while Arkansas was held to 3-of-16 (.188) from the arc. The Rebels finished No. 1 in the SEC in 3-point percentage defense in league play at .323 and is second overall at .330. In addition, the Rebels pressured South Carolina State into 25 turnovers, Centenary into 23 and Nicholls into 21. Ole Miss totaled 13 steals against Arkansas State, 12 against Vanderbilt and 11 at Alabama.
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