Rebel Basketball Game Notes
March 8, 2005
SEC Tournament First Round: [W5] Ole Miss (13-16) vs. [E4] South Carolina (15-12)
REBS OPEN TOURNEY WITH USC ... AGAIN: For the second time in five days, Ole Miss matches up with South Carolina Thursday in game one of the SEC Tournament. It will mark the third time in the last four seasons for the Rebels to take on USC in the first round. Carolina knocked off Ole Miss in a 76-70 overtime battle Sunday in the regular-season finale. It was the Rebels' first OT game in two years. Marvin Moore paced Ole Miss with 16 points, while Kendrick Fox added 14 and Todd Abernethy tallied 13. That trio has led the way over the last three games, posting 112 points for an average of 35.3. Senior guard Ed Glass earned his second career start and responded with his third double-digit scoring game in the Red and Blue, tallying 11 points with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
BARNES IN SEVENTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is concluding 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 126-92 record. Barnes' 126 coaching victories in his first 218 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .578 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 had dropped four straight before Sunday's overtime win over Ole Miss. The No. 1 USC option has been senior forward Carlos Powell, who ranks top-10 in the conference in scoring (16.0) and rebounding (6.3). Powell shot an SEC-best 55.3 percent in league play and dropped in a career-high 30 points against the Rebels. Josh Gonner, 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 5.1 boards per outing. USC head coach Dave Odom is in his fourth year at the helm and returned nine letterwinners and three starters from last year's 23-11 squad that earned an NCAA Tournament berth.
OLE MISS-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Thursday's game will be the 21st time the two schools have faced each other on the hardwood. The series is tied at 10-10, although Ole Miss has won five of the last eight meetings. A year ago, the Rebels knocked off the 23rd-ranked Gamecocks 79-68 in Oxford, but last week, USC avenged that defeat with a 76-70 overtime win in Columbia in the regular-season finale. 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 6-4 vs. South Carolina and 2-1 against the Gamecocks in SEC Tournament play.
QUOTING BARNES: "We had a great game with South Carolina Sunday. We're one of the teams in the league that have to win the tournament. We have played a lot of players lately and have played well. We're excited coming into the tournament."
On adjustments vs. South Carolina: "We've got to find a better way to guard Carlos Powell. He had a great game. We went away from our motion offense and went to some set plays that really helped us. We were concerned going into the game with rebounding, but our kids did a good job with that. We just need wins now."
On bouncing back from a loss: "This is a team that has really been able to bounce back well after tough losses. If we give a little bit better effort and play a little bit better defense, we have a chance to beat them.
On playing competitively against league teams: "The kids are very well aware that they have played some close games. We've pushed that a lot. Starting with the South Carolina game, for the first 38 minutes, we played as well as they did. We'll go in to the tournament, pushing those things."
REBS & COCKS IN THE SEC TOURNEY: Thursday's game 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. Four of the five tourney encounters were staged in the first round, while the 1998 meeting was in the semifinals. The Gamecocks have a 3-2 edge in SEC Tournament games, although the Rebels prevailed in two of the last three, including the last bout in 2003, 62-56.
REBELS ARE WESTERN DIVISION NO. 5 SEED IN TOURNEY: The Rebels are the Western Division's No. 5 seed in the 2005 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Ole Miss tied for fifth in the SEC West standings with a 4-12 league mark, but earned the No. 5 seed by virtue of a 2-0 regular-season sweep of Auburn. Since the conference went to the two-division format in 1991-92, this is the fourth time that Ole Miss has been the West's No. 5 seed in the tournament. The Rebels have a 1-3 record as the West's No. 5 seed. Ole Miss was also a No. 5 seed in last year's tournament in which the Rebels lost to Vanderbilt 70-50 in the first round.
OLE MISS IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT: The Rebels have an overall record of 21-41 in Southeastern Conference Tournament play, and is 7-13 in tournament action since the league went to the two-division format in the 1991-92 season. Ole Miss has participated in 42 of the previous 44 SEC Tournaments. Last season, the Rebels lost in the opening round to Vanderbilt. The Rebels have advanced to four SEC championship contests and have a 1-3 record in those games. Ole Miss won the 1981 tournament title with a 66-62 victory over Georgia in the championship game. The Rebels have a 2-8 record in SEC Tournament games played in Atlanta, with their best finish coming in 1998 with a semi-final loss to South Carolina 87-77.
BARNES IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT: Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes has a 4-6 record in Southeastern Conference Tournament play. Barnes, the 2001 SEC Coach of the Year, directed his Rebels to the 2001 championship game in Nashville, falling to Kentucky 77-55 in the finals.
OLE MISS IN SEC TOURNAMENT FIRST-ROUND PLAY: The Rebels have an overall record of 8-18 in first-round games at the SEC Tournament. The Rebels are 1-5 in first-round games in Atlanta. The victory came against South Carolina, 62-56, in the first round of the 2003 SEC Tournament.
NEXT UP: With an opening-round victory over Carolina Thursday, Ole Miss would advance to face the West No. 1 seed Alabama Friday at 1 p.m. ET. The Crimson Tide swept the two regular-season meetings. The division rivals matched up three straight years 1988-1990, but have not met in tournament action since.
GOOD OMENS: The Rebels have a couple of good omens on their side. In all five seasons that Ole Miss and South Carolina played once in the regular season and again in the SEC Tournament, the teams split the two meetings. The Gamecocks prevailed in the regular-season meeting on Sunday. In addition, in the previous five meetings against USC in the SEC Tournament, the Gamecock victories have come in even years (1994, 1998, 2002). Ole Miss' two SEC Tournament wins over Carolina were in odd years (1999, 2003). Of course, this week's tournament falls on an odd year (2005).
COMING UP SHORT: Ole Miss has been on the short end of some heartbreaking battles, particularly in conference play. The Rebels have dropped 10 games by 11 points or less, including eight of the team's 12 SEC losses. Ole Miss either led or was within two possessions inside the final minute in seven of the 12 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. On Sunday, Ole Miss led South Carolina by as much as 14 before falling in overtime.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Rod Barnes' trademark defense has continued to key the Rebels' success. In the home meeting with LSU, Ole Miss handcuffed the Fighting Tigers 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 (64.4), 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 11 foes under 60 points, most recently LSU 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 scorers at Southern Union Community College. In conference play, Moore registered seven double-digit outings and his first two career 20-point performances. After averaging only 3.1 points in the non-conference season, he posted 7.9 ppg in SEC play. Moore first got on track in a return trip to his home state of Alabama in January, lighting up Auburn for 23 points and 12 boards in 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 also provided 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 has led Ole Miss in both scoring and rebounding in the last two games with 15 and 8 against LSU and 16 and 7 at South Carolina.
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 21 games off the pine, he has posted eight double-figure scoring outings and seven games with four or more assists. In the last three games, Abernethy has tallied 13.0 points and hit 7-of-13 threes. He returned to the starting lineup at South Carolina Sunday and recorded 13 points and 5 boards. Abernethy totaled 12 points against LSU, 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 rebounds. 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.
FINISHING STRONG: Kendrick Fox is wrapping up his career in style, with the most productive stretch in his four years in the Red and Blue. Over the last five contests, Fox has averaged 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and knocked down 15-of-29 three-pointers (.517). Fox connected on his first four three-point attempts at South Carolina Sunday and finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He notched 13 big points at Mississippi State 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 effort in his last three road games are further proof of Fox's hot-shooting away from the Tad Pad. 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 49.1 percent from behind the arc in road and neutral games -- almost 12 percent higher than his 37.3 three-point clip at home.
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