Ole Miss Shoots for 2-0 Start with Tuesday Night Home Game

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Game 2: Ole Miss (1-0) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (1-0)
November 14, 2006 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700)

 Ole Miss continues its season-opening, two-game homestand with Louisiana-Lafayette Tuesday night. In the Rebel coaching debut of Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss tipped off the 2006-07 campaign Friday with a 72-49 victory over Mississippi Valley State. Four Rebels scored in double-figures, including Bam Doyne with a team-high 19.
 Ole Miss is looking for its first 2-0 start since 2000-01, when the team began 11-0. The Rebels have taken a split in their first two games in the last five seasons.

 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.

 The Ragin’ Cajuns began their 2006-07 season on Friday, overcoming 31 turnovers to defeat Ouachita Baptist 76-68 in the Cajundome. Senior guard Ross Mouton has been the focal point of the ULL offense thus far, topping the Cajuns with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting in Friday’s opener. The performance was a follow-up to a 22-point outing in the exhibition with Spring Hill. Louisiana-Lafayette returns five letterwinners from last season’s 13-16 squad which rallied to win seven of the final eight Sun Belt games and finish second in the SBC West Division. Maurice Barksdale, Valentino Hart, Rhett Hebert, Adam James and Ross Mouton are the veterans of the Ragin’ Cajuns. Barksdale, an anticipated returnee, had season-ending wrist surgery last week limiting the Ragin’ Cajuns to only four returnees.

 Ole Miss trails the all-time series with Louisiana-Lafayette 4-1, and has dropped the last four meetings (1983, 1989, 1991, 1992). The last encounter was a 103-87 Ragin’ Cajun win during the 1992-93 season in Oxford. The lone Rebel triumph in the series was an 89-77 result in 1969-70 in Lafayette.

 Bam Doyne scored 19 points to lead Ole Miss to a 72-49 win over Mississippi Valley State on Friday in the season opener for both time and the beginning of the Andy Kennedy era in Oxford. Jermey Parnell and Xavier Hansbro added 11 points apiece and Brian Smith had 10 for the Rebels (1-0), who have won 10 of the last 11 home openers. Richard Cannon led Mississippi Valley State (0-1) with nine points.
 The Rebels shot 28-of-63 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range. Mississippi Valley State managed only 14-of-54, 26 percent, from the field and no player had more than two baskets. The Delta Devils led 15-10 after 10 minutes of play, but managed only one basket for the remainder of the half. Ole Miss led 32-24 at halftime.
 The Rebels opened the second half with a 17-3 spurt, building a 49-27 lead. Hansbro and Smith hit 3-point shots and Doyne had six points to highlight the decisive run. Mississippi Valley State never got closer than 19 points again. Ole Miss built its biggest lead to 59-33 with 8:23 left on a 3-point shot by Trey Hampton.

 Starting point guard Todd Abernethy was injured three minutes into the season opener after his head collided with an opposing player’s shoulder on a screen. Abernethy suffered a slight concussion and had five stitches over his right eye. He did not play the rest of the way but did return to the bench for the second half. Abernethy did not practice Monday, and his status is unknown for Tuesday’s game. The three-time Team Captain has not missed a game in his four years in the Red and Blue, and Monday marked his first missed practice.
 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. Midway through last week, Curtis moved from crutches to a walking boot, and is expected to be wearing the boot for at least an additional two weeks. The foot will be x-rayed at that point, and Curtis may begin full workouts with the team.

 Sophomore forward Xavier Hansbro earned his first career start in Friday’s win over Mississippi Valley State. The Trezevant, Tenn., native responded with his second double-digit scoring outing as a Rebel, dropping in 11 points along with 6 rebounds. Coincidentally, Hansbro’s only other double-figure game was in last year’s season opener, when he 4-of-6 3-pointers for 12 points against Southern Utah.

 With starting point guard Todd Abernethy leaving with injury in the game’s opening moments, junior guard Brian Smith stepped in admirably Friday, helping lead the Rebels to the 72-49 victory over Valley. Smith played 21 minutes and recorded career highs of 10 points and 4 rebounds. He connected on 4-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-4 treys.

 The Rebels have an all-time record of 44-22 (.667 winning percentage) versus current members of the Sun Belt conference. Louisiana-Lafayette is the first of three Rebel matchups with the Sun Belt, as UL-Monroe and South Alabama remain on the slate. Ole Miss has gone 10-2 against the conference since 1997, including eight straight wins at one point.

 In UL-Lafayette, Ole Miss faces its first of six games against schools from Louisiana this year. The Rebels also host Louisiana-Monroe, Nicholls State and New Orleans, along with two SEC bouts against LSU. Ole Miss is 175-189 all-time against Louisiana schools including such frequent foes as Tulane (35-55) and conference rival LSU (77-112).

 Over the last decade, the “Tad Pad” proved to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. With the home-opening win over MVSU, Ole Miss has won 133 of its last 165 games (.806 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 367-179 (.672 winning percentage) at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season.

 Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 123-41 record (.750 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. 

 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.

 Rebel fans can catch the Ole Miss basketball teams in action on OleMissSports.tv this season, as the premium site for OleMissSports.com will air live webcasts for seven home games.
 Remaining games on the schedule include 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.

 C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum took on a new look over the summer, as the floor returned to a more traditional, natural hardwood look. With Rebels painted on both endlines, centercourt showcases Ole Miss’ power M’ with the Ole Miss script across the middle. New Ole Miss and SEC logos have also been added to the walls on the baseline.
 In addition, the Ole Miss student body is now closer to the action, as the student section has been moved to the north end of the coliseum, right on top of the court. Bleachers have been equipped in the bottom sections.

 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.




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