Ole Miss Basketball SEC Tournament Notes
March 9, 2004
SEC TOURNAMENT: W5: Ole Miss (13-14) vs. E4: Vanderbilt (19-8)
OLE MISS OPENS SEC TOURNAMENT WITH VANDERBILT: The West No. 5 seed Ole Miss tangles with the East No. 4 Vanderbilt Thursday in game three of the SEC Tournament first round. The Rebels wrapped up the regular season and snapped a five-game skid Saturday with a 55-45 victory over Arkansas. The win was Ole Miss' fifth in SEC play, besting its total of four from a year ago and securing the Rebels a tie for fourth in the SEC West standings. Ole Miss used a 16-0 second-half run to power past the Razorbacks for the ninth straight time in Oxford. In the final home game of his career, Justin Reed topped the Rebels in both points and rebounds for the 15th time this year with 19 points and eight boards. Fellow senior Aaron Harper turned in his 14th straight double-digit scoring game with 11 points, despite battling foul trouble.
BARNES IN SIXTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in the midst of his sixth season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program. The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 113-75 record (.601 winning percentage). The 113 wins in his first six seasons is the most by a Rebel coach in that span of time in Ole Miss history. In 2000-01, Barnes was the Southeastern Conference 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 named All-SEC his senior season. He still ranks on the Ole Miss career charts in scoring (18th; 1,201 points), assists (2nd; 456) and steals (7th; 154).
SCOUTING VANDERBILT: Vanderbilt took a perfect 11-0 record into Southeastern Conference play, and went .500 in the league at 8-8. The Commodores are coming off a 71-61 road loss at Georgia Saturday. Senior forward Matt Frieje, the SEC scoring leader with an average of 19.1 points per game, was held scoreless the first 14:40 and finished with eight points. Sophomore guard Mario Moore led Vanderbilt against UGA with 11 points. He is second on the team in scoring with a 10.4 scoring average and is one of three Commodores posting better than 3.1 assists per game. Vanderbilt tops the conference in assists at 16.70 per game and assist-turnover ratio at 1.27. In his fifth year at the helm, VU head coach Kevin Stallings returns 10 players, including four starters, from last year's 11-18 squad that finished sixth in the SEC Eastern Division.
OLE MISS-VANDERBILT SERIES: Thursday's game will be the 104th meeting between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the hardwood. The Commodores hold a 65-38 lead in the series, which began in 1925. Ole Miss has won three of the last five meetings with the Dores. Vanderbilt took this year's regular-season meeting 77-65 in Oxford despite a near triple-double by Aaron Harper with 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Rebel head coach Rod Barnes is 3-3 versus Vanderbilt.
REBS & DORES IN THE SEC TOURNEY: Ole Miss enjoys a 3-2 all-time edge in conference tournament battles with Vanderbilt, going 3-1 in SEC Tourney action and dropping a 1927 Southern Conference Tournament matchup 32-20. The Rebels have won the last two SEC Tournament games by the narrowest of margins 64-62 in 1997 and 65-62 in 1990.
REBELS ARE WESTERN DIVISION NO. 5 SEED IN TOURNEY: The Rebels are the Western Division's No. 5 seed in the 2004 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Ole Miss tied for fourth in the SEC West standings with a 5-11 league mark, but earned the No. 5 seed by virtue of a 1-1 regular-season record against LSU compared to Auburn's 2-0 record vs. the Tigers. Since the conference went to the two-division format in 1991-92, this is the third time that Ole Miss has been the West's No. 5 seed in the tournament. The Rebels have a 1-2 record as the West's No. 5 seed. Ole Miss was a No. 5 seed in last year's tournament in which the Rebels lost to Mississippi State 73-64 in the second round.
POSSIBLE REMATCH: With an opening-round victory over Vanderbilt Thursday, Ole Miss would advance to face the West No. 1 seed Mississippi State Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET in a rematch of last year's second-round match. That marked the first ever SEC Tournament encounter between the in-state rivals. The Bulldogs prevailed 73-64 that day in the fourth of six straight MSU wins in the series.
OLE MISS IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT: The Rebels have an overall record of 21-40 in Southeastern Conference Tournament play, and is 7-12 in tournament action since the league went to the two-division format in the 1991-92 season. Ole Miss has participated in 41 of the previous 43 SEC Tournaments. Last season, the Rebels lost in the second round to Mississippi State, dropping a 73-64 decision. 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 2-7 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 4-5 record in Southeastern Conference Tournament play. Last year, Barnes, the 2001 SEC Coach of the Year, and his Rebels were 1-1 in the Tournament and fell to Mississippi State 73-64 in the second round.
OLE MISS IN SEC TOURNAMENT FIRST-ROUND PLAY: The Rebels have an overall record of 8-17 (.320 winning percentage) in first-round games at the SEC Tournament. Ole Miss earned a 62-56 victory over South Carolina in the first round of last year's SEC Tournament. The Rebels are 1-4 in first-round games in Atlanta.
DYNAMIC DUO: The Rebels continue to boast two of the top scorers in the Southeastern Conference in seniors Justin Reed and Aaron Harper. Reed and Harper form the top scoring duo in the SEC at 18.6 (2nd) and 16.7 (8th), respectively. The childhood friends were also No. 1 in conference play this year with Reed at 18.7 (4th) and Harper at 17.7 (T7th). The senior pair was voted among the top tandems in college hoops by Basketball News in the preseason. Reed and Harper have spent the majority of their basketball lives together, having teamed up at Provine High School in Jackson, Miss., before arriving in Oxford.
SEC STARS FACE OFF: Thursday's matchup features the Southeastern Conference's top two scorers and two of its best all-around players in Justin Reed for the Rebels and Matt Freije for the Commodores. The following chart displays where the two measure up in the conference statistical charts:
Reed SEC Categories Freije 18.6/2nd Scoring 19.1/1st 7.6/5th Rebounding 5.6/18th 18.7/4th Scoring in SEC Play 19.2/1st 6.4/10th Rebounding in SEC 5.4/17th
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Saturday, the Rebels displayed the defensive prowess that has become a trademark of Rod Barnes' squads. Ole Miss limited Arkansas to 32-percent shooting and did not allow a Razorback in double-figures. It also marked the sixth time this season and 25th time in Barnes' six years at the helm that Ole Miss has held its opponent under 50 points. The Rebels currently rank fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (65.2 per game).
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Thursday's game against Vanderbilt, which is being broadcast by Jefferson Pilot Sports, will be the 10th contest in which the Rebels are on television. Ole Miss is 3-6 in its first nine televised games of the season. Last year, the Rebels were 5-7 in TV games. Under head coach Rod Barnes (since 1998-99), Ole Miss has played 78 television games and has a 42-36 record in those contests.
SCORING TITLE STILL UP FOR GRABS: Justin Reed enters the SEC Tournament with a shot at the league's scoring crown. In second place with an 18.6 average, Reed trails conference leader Matt Freije from Vanderbilt by half a point (19.1 ppg). The two stars, who face off in Thursday's opening round, have both played in 27 games with Freije boasting 15 more points than Reed (517 compared to 502). Tennessee's Scooter McFagdon is in third place, half of a point behind Reed with an 18.1 average. The last Rebel to claim the SEC scoring title was Joe Harvell in 1992 with a 25.0 average. Prior to that, John Stroud won the title back-to-back years in 1979 (26.3 ppg) and 1980 (25.5 ppg).
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