Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Nov. 12, 2004
OLE MISS OPENS 2004-05 CAMPAIGN AT BCA CLASSIC: Ole Miss tips off the 2004-05 campaign Sunday through Tuesday at the BCA Classic in Milwaukee. The event is hosted by Marquette and will be held at the Bradley Center. This season, Ole Miss welcomes back 11 letterwinners from last year's squad. Three starters return including 2004 SEC All-Freshman Team selection Todd Abernethy. The 6-foot-1 point guard finished second on the team in points and assists and was the only Rebel to start every game a year ago. One of seven seniors on the squad, Tommie Eddie shed some pounds as part of an excellent offseason for the 6-foot-7 forward. The Brooklyn native has developed into an inside-outside threat and is expected to raise his scoring average from the five-point clip in 2003-04. Fellow senior Kendrick Fox finished second on the team in three-pointers last season and should also up his offensive output. They, along with a balanced up-tempo approach, will help account for the loss of Aaron Harper and Justin Reed, who formed the top scoring duo in the conference last year. Reed, the SEC scoring champion, was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 40th overall selection.
BARNES ENTERS SEVENTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is beginning his seventh 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 113-76 record (.598 winning percentage). Barnes' 113 coaching victories with the Rebels is the most of any Ole Miss coach over a six-year span and is the second-most in school history. His .598 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of six years or more.
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 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE: South Carolina State is picked to repeat as Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions, having tied with Coppin State for the 2003-04 MEAC regular season title with a 14-4 league mark, 18-11 overall. The Bulldogs return all five starters from that squad, including Preseason MEAC Player of the Year Thurman Zimmerman. The senior forward finished third in the league in scoring (18.8 ppg) last year and led the conference in rebounding (8.4 rpg) in earning MEAC Player of the Year honors.
SECOND-ROUND MATCHUP: Ole Miss will face either Air Force or Jacksonville State in Monday's second round. Coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962, Air Force was picked third in the Mountain West Conference preseason media poll. Air Force posted a 22-7 overall record and 12-2 mark in MWC play last season and was the only team in the nation to win a regular season title after being selected last in the league's preseason poll. The Falcons have 11 letterwinners and three starters back from that unit, including junior center Nick Welch, the reigning MWC Co-Player of the Year.
Jacksonville State graduated five players from last year's 14-14 record. Junior point guard Walker Russell is the only starter returning and is the top returning scorer, after averaging 12.7 points a year ago. He led the league with 6.5 assists per game and finished the season ranked ninth nationally in that category. Russell is a 2004-05 OVC preseason all-conference second team pick.
REBS VS. BCA PARTICIPANTS: OIe Miss has never previously faced first-round foe S.C. State or many of the other BCA teams. Of the seven other tournament participants, the only teams that have met the Rebels before are Jacksonville State and Illinois State. Ole Miss owns a 3-0 all-time edge over the JSU Gamecocks, a potential second-round opponent, and the Rebels held them off for a 64-56 victory last December in Oxford. Ole Miss and Illinois State tangled in Normal during the 1978-79 season with the Redbirds pulling out a 76-72 win.
OLE MISS IN OPENERS: Ole Miss has an overall record of 69-25 (.734 winning percentage) in season openers. However the Rebels have opened the last three seasons with losses, including a 74-69 home defeat to Arkansas State last year.
Ole Miss has a 41-53 overall mark (.436 winning percentage) in its first road game of the year (including neutral sites). The Rebels have dropped their last three road openers, and fell to Florida State 66-60 in Tallahassee a year ago.
FIRST TIME SINCE... : The Rebels are opening a campaign with a regular-season tournament for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign when the Rebels started the season at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.
OLE MISS IN REGULAR SEASON TOURNAMENTS: The Rebels have an all-time record of 55-53 (.509 winning percentage) in regular season tournaments in their history. Ole Miss' last regular-season tourney was the the BP Top of the World Classic in 2001-02. The Rebels placed fourth in the event, notching wins over Wichita State (80-68) and host Alaska-Fairbanks (75-58) but falling to Bowling Green (82-78) in the opener.
In 2000-01, Ole Miss placed second at the Yahoo! Sports Invitational (formerly Pearl Harbor Invitational). The Rebels defeated Southern Illinois (70-66) and Southern Cal (84-83, ot), but came up short against Iowa State (73-68) in the championship game.
In 1999-2000, Ole Miss won the inaugural SoCon Holiday Hoops Tournament in Greenville, S.C., defeating Wisconsin-Green Bay, 57-53 in the title game. Prior to that tournament title, the Rebels' previous regular-season tournament crown came in the 1993-94 season, a 78-74 victory over Southern Mississippi in the Cellular South/Mississippi Beach Shootout (one-game tournament). The previous time Ole Miss won a two-day tournament title was in the 1988-89 campaign when the Rebels claimed the Bayou Classic championship with wins over Southern (90-88) and Nicholls State (74-53).
The BCA Classic will be only the eighth three-day tournament for the Rebels in their history. The last three-day tournament came in 2001-02 at the BP Top of the World Classic. The Rebels' other three-day tournaments were at Yahoo! Sports Invitational in 2000-01, the SoCon Holiday Hoops Tournament (Greenville, S.C.) in 1999-2000, Puerto Rico Holiday Classic (San Juan, Puerto Rico) in 1998-99, All-College Tournament (Oklahoma City, Okla.) in 1972-73, Gulf South Tournament (Shreveport, La.) in 1960-61 and All-American City Tournament (Owensboro, Ky.) in 1954-55.
FAMILIAR FOE: Jacksonville State will be a very familiar opponent for one particular member of the Ole Miss coaching staff. First-year assistant Michael White spent the last four years on Mike LaPlante's JSU staff. His time with Gamecocks included the school's first-ever conference tournament victory in 2002-03 en route to JSU's first 20-win campaign in almost a decade. He was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2003-04 campaign.
A four-year starter at point guard for the Rebels from 1995-99, White returned to Oxford in June and joined new assistant coach Tracy Dildy, who arrived in April, as the latest additions to the Rebel family.
TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Over the last 11 years, the Rebels have posted an 103-34 record (.752 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Non-conference foes have found Ole Miss especially tough under head coach Rod Barnes (1998-99 through 2003-04), as the Rebels have an impressive 68-17 mark (.800 winning percentage) against out-of-conference teams. Ole Miss has been dominant against non-SEC clubs at home. Last year's loss to Memphis was only the Rebels' third non-conference home loss since 1995.
MR. NOVEMBERS: The Rebels love to play games in November, and it shows in their record in contests played during that month. Since the 1990-91 campaign, Ole Miss has a 33-6 record (.842 winning percentage) in the month of November. The Rebels were 2-1 in November last year, with the lone setback a 74-69 loss to Arkansas State. The Rebels posted 11 straight November victories from 1998 through 2000.
ON THE SLATE: With 13 opponents that advanced to 2004 postseason play and 10 20-win foes, Ole Miss faces another challenging schedule this year. The slate boasts 15 home games at Tad Smith Coliseum and a matchup with Tennessee-Martin at Tupelo's Bancorp South Center.
After opening the season against a strong field at the BCA Classic, Ole Miss' non-conference schedule is also highlighted by home encounters with Florida State and Troy and tough road bouts at Memphis and VCU.
The Rebels are beginning SEC play on the road for the sixth time in Rod Barnes' seven years at the helm, and will open the conference schedule at Arkansas for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign. Ole Miss faces each Western Division opponent twice on a home-and-home basis. The Rebels host SEC Eastern Division adversaries Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, and travel to Vanderbilt, Florida and South Carolina in the regular-season finale.
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