Ole Miss Plans To Clamp Down On Arizona's Arenas

March 23, 2001

By MICHELLE KOIDIN
Associated Press Writer

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Mississippi, which considers itself a defense-minded team, might have to muster a little extra energy against Arizona on Friday night.

Heading into the Midwest Regional semifinals, Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes is most worried about Gilbert Arenas, who leads the Wildcats in scoring with a 16.6-point average and hits 43 percent of his 3-pointers.

"He's very consistent," Barnes said. "I think for us to be successful, we've really got to defend well on the perimeter, and he concerns me a lot."

The Wildcats, meanwhile, have heard all about Ole Miss' formidable defense.

Center Loren Woods, for one, said Arizona is ready.

"Everybody is talking about how well Mississippi plays defense," he said. "We're not doubting that at all, but I think we have all the preparation there that we need to have."

With Woods, a lean 7-foot-1, going up against 6-8, 255-pound Rahim Lockhart, No. 2 Arizona (25-7) will have at least a few inches on No. 3 Ole Miss (27-7).

The Rebels also have Jason Harrison, a 5-5 point guard.

But it was Harrison who hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute in the Rebels' 59-56 victory over Notre Dame last weekend.

"Their size isn't really the typical college basketball size when you look at it from point guard to center," Arizona forward Richard Jefferson said. "But they do what they need to to win, and that says a lot about them. Whether they won by two points, three points in the first couple of rounds, it doesn't matter."

But Barnes said the Woods-Lockhart matchup is not the only lopsided one.

"We're the underdog at every position," said Barnes, whose Rebels will play in their first regional semifinal ever. "And we're going to have to really play at every position to win the game."

But Ole Miss guard Jason Flanigan added, "We've been the underdog all season long. I like being the underdog because you don't have the same amount of pressure on you."

Not likely, said Arizona coach Lute Olson.

"I don't think anyone that's gotten this far doesn't want to get one step further, so there will be pressure on them," said Olson, whose Wildcats are going to the round of 16 for the fourth time in six years.

 

 

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