Men's Basketball Weekly Release

November 12, 1998

Alabama State vs. Ole Miss
Friday, November 13 - 7:00 p.m.
Tad Smith Coliseum - Oxford, Miss.

The Rebels open regular-season play on Friday, Nov. 13 versus Alabama State at Tad Smith Coliseum. Game time is 7:00 p.m. (CT). The contest will also be the season opener for the Hornets of Alabama State. Ole Miss won its two exhibition games, defeating Spirit Express (105-80) and North Melbourne (75-56). The Hornets also posted wins in their two exhibition contests with victories over Skovbakken, Denmark (84-65) on Nov. 3 and Vasda USA (91-70) on Nov. 7.

Rod Barnes begins his first season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program. Barnes was hired as the Rebel head coach on April 9, 1998, after Rob Evans left to take the head coaching position at Arizona State on April 6. 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 (15th; 1,201 points), assists (2nd; 456) and steals (5th; 154).

Friday night's game is also the 1998-99 season opener for the Hornets. Alabama State returns all five starters from last year's team which posted an 11-17 overall record and a 6-10 SWAC mark. In the preseason publications, the Hornets have been picked to finish between third and eighth in the nine-team SWAC. The tandem of Corey Williams and Terrance Simmons returns to lead the Hornets in 1998-99. Both players have received preseason All-SWAC first team accolades. Last year, Williams averaged 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds, while Simmons posted averages of 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds. Rob Spivery is in his third year at the helm of the Alabama State basketball program. He has posted a record of 19-38 in his previous two seasons.

PROBABLE STARTERS (based on starters from last exhibition game)

No. Player           (Yr.) Pos.  Ht.  Wt. PPG/RPG  Hometown
 4  Jason Smith      (Sr.)  F   6-6  220  9.8/6.5  Wheatley, Ark.
13  Johnnie Rogers   (Sr.)  F   6-9  220  3.2/2.8  Laurel, Miss.
24  Marcus Hicks     (Jr.)  F   6-6  200           Jackson, Tenn.
22  Michael White    (Sr.)  G   6-1  180  5.4/2.0  Tempe, Ariz.
33  Keith Carter     (Sr.)  G   6-4  195 14.8/6.2  Perryville, Ark. 
No. Player           (Yr.) Pos.  Ht.  Wt. PPG/RPG  Hometown
00  Jon Cantrell     (Sr.)  F   6-8  225   3.9/1.7 Germantown, Tenn.
 3  Jason Flanigan   (So.)  G   6-1  175   4.1/1.6 Little Rock, Ark.
11  Hunter Carpenter (Sr.)  G   6-0  180   2.0/0.4 Little Rock, Ark.
12  Jason Harrison   (Fr.)  G   5-5  150           Little Rock, Ark.
20  Matt Pruitt      (Fr.)  G   6-4  185           Jonesboro, Ark.
21  Darrian Brown    (Fr.)  F   6-6  200           West Memphis, Ark.
23  Syniker Taylor   (Fr.)  G   6-2  195           Gulfport, Miss.#
25  Lataryl Williams (Jr.)  G   6-6  200           Oxford, Miss.
44  Rahim Lockhart   (So.)  F   6-8  250   3.5/3.1 Mendenhall, Miss.
54  John Engstrom    (Fr.)  C   7-0  245           Paragould, Ark.

% # - will miss the 1998-99 season as a result of a broken left fibula and dislocated ankle suffered in football practice Nov. 4 % - redshirted in 1997-98


No. Player           (Yr.) Pos.  Ht.  Wt.  PPG/RPG  Hometown
23 Corey Williams    (Sr.)  F   6-4  215  14.4/5.5  Bronx, N.Y.
24 Courtney Stephens (Sr.)  F   6-6  195   7.3/4.3  Chicago, Ill.
50 Terrance Simmons  (Jr.)  C   6-7  265  13.0/7.3  Prichard, Ala.
00 Tobarie Burton    (So.)  G   6-1  180   5.4/2.7  Montgomery, Ala.
15 Jasaun Moncrief   (Sr.)  G   5-9  175   7.9/2.1  Pontiac, Mich. 
No. Player           (Yr.) Pos.  Ht.  Wt.  PPG/RPG  Hometown
40 Muhammad Sisay    (Sr.)  C   6-8  210   2.5/4.2  Banjul, Gambia
35 Jeffrey Thomas    (So.)  C   6-9  230   2.7/2.0  Annapolis, Md.
32 Milton Brownlee   (Jr.)  F   6-7  195   2.3/1.9  Detroit, Mich.
34 Dupree McKenzie   (So.)  F   6-3  215   2.2/1.0  Shibuta, Miss. 

The Rebels won the only previous meeting against the Hornets, an 87-75 win in the 1983 National Invitation Tournament (NIT). That game was played in Oxford on Mar. 17, 1983. In that contest, Carlos Clark recorded a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rebels to the win. Eric Laird added 21 points for Ole Miss.

Indeed, it is "home sweet home" for the Rebels when playing in Oxford - especially in season and home openers. Ole Miss has an overall record of 66-22 (.750 winning percentage) in season openers in its previous 88 years of basketball. The Rebels have been even more impressive in home openers, posting a 71-12 record (.855 winning percentage) in those contests. Last year, the Rebels defeated Louisiana Tech, 88-56, in their season opener which was also their home opener.

Tonight's game will be the 59th time in which Ole Miss' season opener will also be its home opener. In the previous 58 season/home openers, the Rebels have posted an incredible record of 51-7 (.879 winning percentage). In the 1990s, Ole Miss has opened every season at home and has posted a 7-1 record in those season/home openers.

In the Southeastern Confer-ence media day voting, Ole Miss was picked to finished third in the SEC Western Division. Arkansas was the overwhelming choice to win the Western Division, with Auburn picked to finish second. Mississippi State was fourth followed by Alabama and LSU. In the SEC Eastern Division, Kentucky was picked to finish first followed by Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt. The Wildcats were also selected to win the overall SEC championship.

Well, a win is not guaranteed, but in the debut game of the previous 18 head coaches in Ole Miss basketball history, the Rebels are 13-5 (.722 winning percentage). The previous three head coaches - Rob Evans, Ed Murphy and Lee Hunt - all posted victories in their coaching debuts. The last Ole Miss head coach to lose in his first game at the helm was Bob Weltlich, a 70-61 loss to TCU on the road in the 1976-77 season. The following chart shows what the previous 18 head coaches did in their debuts:

Head Coach         Opponent           Home/Away      Result Date/Yr
Rob Evans          Houston Baptist      Home 103-61      W  12-3-92
Ed Murphy          Wash-St. Louis       Home 78-55       W 11-29-86
Lee Hunt           Carson-Newman        Home 91-70       W  12-1-82
Bob Weltlich       TCU                  Away 61-70       L 11-27-76
Cob Jarvis         Texas                Home 63-67       L  12-2-68
Eddie Crawford     Arkansas A&M         Home 74-60       W  12-3-62
Bonnie Graham      Birmingham Southern  Home 61-46       W     1949
Jim Whatley        Tulane               Home 41-69       L     1946
Buster Poole       Southwestern         Home 44-21       W     1945
Edwin Hale         Florida              Home 35-32       W     1942
Charles Jashwhich  Mississippi College  Home 50-26       W     1939
Frank Johnson      Mississippi College  Home 40-43       L     1938
George Bohler      Memphis Coca-Cola    Home 41-40       W     1935
Ed Walker          Earle                Home 20-21       L     1930
Homer Hazel        Arkansas A&M         Home 44-21       W     1925
R.L. Sullivan      Union                Home 40-10       W     1919
B.Y. Walton        Millsaps             Away  30-0       W     1911
E.R. Hubbard       Laurel YMCA          Away 27-26       W     1910

18 head coaches 15 Home/3 Away 13-5 record

Ole Miss has a perfect 13-0 record versus current members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The Rebels are 4-0 versus Prairie View, 3-0 versus Jackson State, 2-0 versus Alcorn State and 1-0 versus Southern, Alabama State, Grambling and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Ole Miss has never played Mississippi Valley State or Texas Southern. Last year, the Rebels defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff (81-36) and Prairie View (106-59) from the SWAC. After Friday night's game versus Alabama State, Ole Miss will also play SWAC members Alabama A&M (Nov. 23) and Prairie View (Dec. 29) this season. Alabama A&M joined the SWAC this year.

Rod Barnes is the first Rebel head coach to have played his collegiate basketball at Ole Miss since Cob Jarvis. Jarvis, who was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference first teamer in 1953 and 1954, was a three-year letterwinner for the Rebels and is still in the No. 12 spot on the Ole Miss career scoring chart with 1,313 points. He coached the Rebels from 1968-76 and compiled an 87-117 record.

The Rebels posted a perfect 14-0 record at Tad Smith Coliseum (a.k.a. the "Tad Pad") last year. The Rebels have won 35 of its last 36 games dating back to the middle of the 1995-96 season. The Rebels' lone loss in the streak was a 59-46 setback to Alabama on Jan. 8, 1997. The streak began on Jan. 24, 1996, with an 82-69 win over Auburn. With its 74-67 win over Auburn on Feb. 28, Ole Miss extended its school-record home winning streak to 20 games. In the past six seasons (1992-present), Ole Miss has an overall home record of 63-22 (.741 winning percentage). The following charts the Rebels' current homecourt win streak:

    Date   Opponent Result
 2-28-98   Auburn                74-67 *
 2-25-98   Arkansas              81-65
 2-11-98   Vanderbilt            87-76
  2-7-98   Alabama               75-74
 1-24-98   Mississippi State     81-77 (2ot)
 1-21-98   LSU                   80-58
  1-7-98   Florida               90-79
  1-3-98   South Carolina        73-54
12-30-97   Northwestern St.      99-52
12-20-97   Prairie View         106-59
12-17-97   Belmont              100-59
11-24-97   Arkansas-Pine Bluff   81-36
11-22-97   Temple                87-74
11-19-97   Louisiana Tech        88-56
 2-26-97   LSU                   74-68 #
 2-19-97   Mississippi State     84-61
  2-1-97   Auburn                57-46
 1-29-97   Arkansas              71-52
 1-22-97   Tennessee             70-48
 1-11-97   Kentucky              73-69
* - clinched 1998 SEC Western Division title
# - clinched 1997 SEC Western Division title 

In the past six years, the Rebels have posted a 40-20 record (.667 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Non-conference foes have found Ole Miss especially tough the last three seasons (1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98), as the Rebels have an impressive 23-7 mark (.767 winning percentage) against out-of-conference teams. The following shows Ole Miss' non-conference record over the previous six years:

 1992-93  5-5  1994-95 5-5  1996-97 8-2
 1993-94  7-3  1995-96 6-4  1997-98 9-1 

Senior Keith Carter (Perryville, Ark.) was named as one of 20 preseason candidates for the 1999 Naismith College Player of the Year, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club in early October. Carter is one of four players from the Southeastern Conference to be named among the preseason candidates. Georgia's Jumaine Jones, South Carolina's BJ McKie and Kentucky's Scott Padgett were also among the 20 preseason candidates for the player of the year honor.

This past summer, Carter played an integral role in helping lead the USA Goodwill Games Team to a 4-1 record and the gold medal. It was the first time that a USA amateur team had won gold in international play since 1986.

In the five games, Carter averaged 7.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from the three-point arc.

Following the 1997-98 season, the Perryville, Ark., native was named to the Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference second team. He was second on the squad in scoring with a 14.8 average and was third in rebounding with a 6.2 average.

Yes, Ole Miss did lose All-America Ansu Sesay, "sixth man" Joezon Darby and "heart and soul" Anthony Boone after last season. But, not to worry, as the Rebels return plenty of firepower for 1998-99. Ole Miss returns 55.9 percent of its scoring and 57.2 percent of its rebounding from last year. The following chart shows what the Rebels return in 1998-99:

Statistical Category          Total   Percent
Points                 1305 of 2334     55.9
Rebounds                688 of 1203     57.2
Assists                  264 of 397     66.5
Steals                   145 of 231     62.7
Blocks                    90 of 124     72.6

SENIORS LOOK TO CLIMB OLE MISS CAREER CHARTS The Ole Miss senior class of Jon Cantrell (Germantown, Tenn.), Hunter Carpenter (Little Rock, Ark., Keith Carter, Johnnie Rogers (Laurel, Miss.), Jason Smith (Wheatley, Ark.) and Michael White (Tempe, Ariz.) is looking to make its mark in Ole Miss basketball history, and one way to do that is on the Rebel career statistical charts (see box at right).



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