Rebels Tip Off Kennedy Era with Delta Devils

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SEASON OPENER: Ole Miss vs. Mississippi Valley State
November 10, 2006 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700)

OLE MISS OPENS 2006-07 CAMPAIGN
 The Andy Kennedy era officially begins at Ole Miss Friday night, as the Rebels host Mississippi Valley State in the 2006-07 opener. The game can be seen live on OleMissSports.tv. Ole Miss is beginning its 97th men’s basketball season. The Rebels were 2-0 in their preseason exhibitions, knocking off North Alabama and Delta State.
 Members of the Ole Miss Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) are collecting non-perishable items for the Oxford Food Pantry prior to to game. Fans that bring three non-perishable items receive free admission.

REBELS ENTER KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION
 On March 24, 2006, Andy Kennedy was introduced as the 20th head men's basketball coach in the history of the University of Mississippi. A Louisville, Miss., native, Kennedy spent the 2005-06 season as the interim head coach at the University of Cincinnati.
 With less than three months to prepare and shorthanded on staff and scholarship players, Kennedy had to lead a shaken Bearcat program that was preparing for its debut season in the BIG EAST. Despite the obstacles, he directed Cincinnati to a 21-13 record, defeating 12 foes ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI and playing a schedule rated fifth-toughest in the nation. Kennedy's Bearcats narrowly missed an NCAA Tournament bid and had their season end in the NIT quarterfinals.
 Kennedy proved himself both as an astute strategist and a top-notch recruiter in more than a decade of coaching in the college ranks. Athlon named him one of the nation's top 10 assistant coaches, and Rivals.com listed him among the top 20 college basketball recruiters. In addition to Cincinnati, Kennedy was also an assistant at his alma mater UAB and South Alabama.

CURTIS INJURY UPDATE
 Ole Miss is without junior center Dwayne Curtis after the preseason All-SEC honoree fractured the third metatarsal in his left foot in the third day of preseason practice. This week, Curtis moved from crutches to a walking boot, and is expected to be wearing the boot for the next 2-3 weeks. The foot will be x-rayed at that point, and Curtis may begin full workouts with the team.

NEW GEAR FOR REBELS
 Ole Miss will be sporting a new jersey tonight. For the first time, the Rebels will be wearing a silver uniform with “REBELS” across the chest in navy. With the silver jerseys, Ole Miss has four uniforms to choose from this year, including the white, red and navy combinations worn last season.

OLE MISS TO BE FEATURED IN PREVIEW SHOW
 A 30-minute preview of the Ole Miss basketball team will air Thursday and Friday as part of FSN South/SportSouth’s COLLEGE HOOPS PREVIEW: 2006. A month-long series, SportsSouth will be providing basketball fans with an in-depth look into the 2006-07 men’s basketball season for each SEC and ACC school. 
 Each edition will offer a review of the school’s 2005-06 season as well as insights, analysis and previews of the 2006-07 campaign. Shot largely on-location at the campus of each school, the shows will also include profiles and interviews with the head coach and key players; a segment featuring several prominent former college basketball coaches and current telecast analysts; and key team story lines that may unfold throughout the season.
 Natalie Taylor hosts the SEC preview shows with reporter Dave Neal and analyst Barry Booker offering their perspectives on each team. The preview shows also feature segments from SEC-TV reporter Jenn Hildreth.
Ole Miss Preview Times:
Thursday, 8 p.m. & Midnight
Friday, 11 a.m. & 6 p.m.

MEMBERS OF 1981 TEAM REMEMBERED 
 At Friday’s season opener, Ole Miss will be honoring members of its ground-breaking 1981 team, which captured the SEC Tournament championship and earned the program's first postseason appearance. Under the direction of head coach Bob Weltlich, Ole Miss 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, propelling the team to its NCAA Tournament debut. 
 A sophomore guard on that Ole Miss squad, James Green will be recognized at Friday’s contest as the head coach for Mississippi Valley State. Cecil Dowell was also a sophomore in the Rebel backcourt in 1981 and later served as an assistant coach for MVSU. Tragically, Dowell lost his life in a car accident on May 20 of this year. He is survived by his daughter, Paris Terry, and remembered by his Ole Miss family.
 Other members of the Rebels' first postseason team are Chris Barrett, Carlos Clark, Ken Coghlan, Rob Drum, Curtis McAllister, Norman Miller, Lane Shoup, Roger Stieg, Tim Thomas, Sean Tuohy and Elston Turner.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
 The Delta Devils return four starters and nine lettermen from last year's 9-19 squad, which marked Valley's first under head coach James Green, a three-year letterwinner for the Rebels (1980-82). The Delta Devils’ top three scorers from 2006 are gone, but back are seniors Jefferey Price, Tychicus Snow and Kadrian Bryant, each of whom averaged eight points per game a year ago. MVSU added six junior transfers for the new campaign.

OLE MISS-MVSU SERIES
 In regular-season play, Ole Miss trails the all-time series with Delta State 4-2. All six meetings were staged between 1937 and 1942, and the in-state foes split the four meetings in Oxford.

EXHIBITION PLAY
 The Rebels were a perfect 2-0 in their preseason exhibitions, defeating North Alabama 108-103 and Delta State 80-69. Ole Miss scored 94.0 points per game in the two exhibitions and shot 54.0 percent. Bam Doyne topped the team in scoring in both games, averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. Clarence Sanders, Todd Abernethy and Trey Hampton each averaged 10.5 points. Abernethy posted 5.0 assists, and Hampton grabbed 7.0 boards per contest.

LAST TIME OUT: Ole Miss 80, DELTA STATE 69
 Ole Miss jumped out to a 26-point halftime lead and coasted past Delta State 80-69 in the Rebels' final preseason tuneup. As in the first exhibition, senior guard Bam Doyne led the way with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
 Todd Abernethy scored 15, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range, with 6 assists, while Kenny Williams accounted for 12 points and 4 rebounds. Eniel Polynice also added 8 points on 4-7 shooting for the Rebels, who beat UNA 108-103 Friday in their first exhibition.
 Ole Miss used an early 14-0 run to make the score 21-7 and would not trail the remainder of the game. Ole Miss led by as much as 27 in the period and shot 62.9 percent in the first half to stretch the lead to 51-25 at the midway point.
 Delta State cut into the lead early in the second half, but Ole Miss used key baskets from Abernethy and Williams to extend the lead to as much as 22 late. Delta State's Justin Neely added a 3-pointer with four seconds left in regulation to narrow the final deficit to 11.

OLEMISSSPORTS.TV TO STREAM LIVE GAMES
 Rebel fans can catch the Ole Miss basketball team in action on OleMissSports.tv this season, as the premium site for OleMissSports.com will air live webcasts for seven home games.
 Included in the schedule is the season opener with Mississippi Valley State and the Louisiana-Lafayette game on Tuesday. The slate also includes Tennessee Tech, Nicholls State, Louisiana-Monroe, UIC and Alabama A&M.
 OleMissSports.tv offers interviews and features with the teams, live streaming of coaches’ press conference, video of great games in Ole Miss history,  and more. The site showcases the coaches’ weekly TV and radio shows as well as live video coverage of select live home and road Rebel sporting events.

OLE MISS IN OPENERS
 Ole Miss has an overall record of 71-25 (.740 winning percentage) in season openers. The Rebels have opened the last two years on the road and won both, including last season’s 69-62 triumph over Southern Utah at the Jim Thorpe Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. 
 Ole Miss has an overall record of 76-13 record (.854 winning percentage) in its first home game of the year, and defeated Centenary 107-67 in last year's home opener. The Rebels have won nine of the last 10 home openers.

STRONG STARTER
 Senior guard Todd Abernethy has been outstanding in season openers throughout his career. Against Southern Utah in Albuquerque, last year, Abernethy posted a team-high 16 points with 6 rebounds. The junior guard also topped the team in scoring in the 2004-05 opener against South Carolina State, dropping in a season-high 18 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in earning SEC Player of the Week honors. In addition, Abernethy began his career with a 9-point, 6-assist effort against Arkansas State in his Rebel debut in 2003-04.

PRESEASON HONORS
 Dwayne Curtis earned some notoriety from the college basketball preview magazines, picking up preseason All-SEC third team accolades from Lindy’s. The publication also rated the junior the 17th-best center in the nation. Also garnering preseason honors was sophomore guard Justin Cerasoli, who was listed among the nation’s top 25 transfers by Athlon. The 6-foot-5 Chicago native sat out last year after transferring from Seton Hall.

REBELS FACE CHALLENGING SCHEDULE
 Ole Miss takes on four of last year’s NCAA Elite Eight teams, including two of the last three national champions as part of the 2006-07 schedule. The Rebels are facing two-time national champ UConn as part of the Hispanic College Fund Classic in Hartford, Conn. The non-conference slate is also highlighted by the renewal of the Mid-South rivalry with Memphis at the FedEx Forum. Other road opponents include Saint Louis and South Alabama.
 The always challenging SEC schedule features home-and-home battles with the five Western Division rivals, including Final Four participant LSU. The Rebels also match up with all six SEC East foes and travel to Gainesville for a date with 2006 NCAA Champion Florida.
 Ole Miss is slated to make at least 13 television appearances this season. In one of five games on Fox Sports Net, the Rebels open league play with Kentucky in a Saturday night clash in Oxford on FSN South. Ole Miss and Mississippi State renew their bitter rivalry in Oxford with an ESPN “Super Tuesday” showdown. In addition, the Rebels are set to play four games on Lincoln Financial Sports, two on CSS and a first-ever ESPNU appearance at Connecticut.

TOUGH AT THE TAD PAD
 Over the last decade, the “Tad Pad” proved to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. With an 11-6 mark last year, Ole Miss has won 132 of its last 164 games (.805 winning percentage) in Oxford dating back to the 1995-96 campaign. Included during this run are homecourt winning streaks of 29 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 366-179 (.672 winning percentage) at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season.

REBELS VS. NON-CONFERENCE FOES
 Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 122-41 record (.748 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Ole Miss has been particularly dominant against out of conference clubs at home. Last year’s loss to No. 5 Memphis was only the Rebels’ fifth non-SEC home loss since 1995. 


 

 

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