Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Dec. 9, 2004
Game 7: Ole Miss (2-4) vs. Memphis (5-3)
OLE MISS TRAVELS TO MEMPHIS: Ole Miss renews its Mid-South rivalry with Memphis Saturday in the first meeting between the two at the new FedEx Forum. The Rebels have dropped their last two games, although had an opportunity to tie both contests in the final minute. Senior forward Tommie Eddie and junior transfer forward Londrick Nolen have led the Rebel attack of late, combining for 34.3 points and 11.3 rebounds over the last three games. For the season, Eddie tops the club in both categories, while Nolen is one behind in each. Nolen turned in season-highs of 21 points and 5 three-pointers at Arkansas State last week.
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 115-80 record (.590 winning percentage). Barnes' 113 coaching victories in his first six seasons is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span of time and is the second-most in school history. His .590 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of six years or more.
In 2000-01, Barnes was the Southeast-ern 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 MEMPHIS: After opening the season 3-0 and spending three weeks in the top 25, Memphis has dropped three of its last five games and fallen out of the rankings. However, the Tigers three losses came to national powers No. 5 Syracuse, No. 13 Maryland and No. 13 Pitt Tuesday at the Jimmy V Classic in New York. With 12 players and 4 starters back from last year's 22-8 NCAA second-round team, Memphis began John Calipari's fifth year as head coach as the second-place pick in Conference-USA. The key reason being preseason Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award candidate Sean Banks. The sophomore forward has done nothing to to disappoint with three double-doubles and averages of 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds. However, the Tigers' top weapon has been junior forward Rodney Carney with a 18.5 scoring clip. Carney has pumped in 20 or more points four times, including a 33-point night against St. Mary.
OLE MISS-MEMPHIS SERIES: Saturday's game will be the 36th overall meeting between the two schools, and will mark the seventh-straight year that the two teams have faced on the hardwood. The Tigers lead the overall series 25-10 with an 18-2 edge when playing in Memphis. After three straight Ole Miss wins from 1999 through 2001, the Tigers have taken the last two, including a 73-62 win last year in Oxford. The last six meetings have been decided by 11 points or fewer and by an average of 7.3 points per contest. Before the renewal of the Mid-South rivalry in the 1998-99 campaign, the last time Ole Miss and Memphis played was in the 1985-86 season.
QUOTING BARNES: "I am thankful for another season. Our team has gotten off to a good start, and also a bad start. We don't have the wins to show, but we have gotten better. We have to get better on the defensive end. Memphis will be a tough challenge for us.
"We work really hard with telling them and explaining to them that we have confidence in them. After losing guys like Reed and Harper, they have a lot of questions. They feel like I have confidence in them to win and compete on this level. After the games that we play, they are gaining more confidence in what they are doing."
REBS IN TUPELO: The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams will be in action at Tupelo's BancorpSouth Center on Dec. 21 with the Lady Rebels taking on Clemson at 6 p.m. followed by the Rebels battling UT-Martin at 8:15. This marks the first time the Ole Miss men's basketball squad has held court at the BancorpSouth Center and the second time the team has ever played in Tupelo. The only previous game was a 94-67 loss to Texas on Dec. 5, 1964.
Although not as frequently now, the Rebels have a history of playing in neutral arenas across the state. The most common spot is Jackson, where Ole Miss boasts an 8-3 record. The Rebels are also 2-1 in Biloxi and 2-0 in Natchez in a pair of games in the early 50s. Ole Miss defeated Alabama 79-76 on a neutral floor in Starkville on Dec. 28, 1957, and in the most recent alternate locale, the Rebels and UTM Skyhawks last faced at Southaven's DeSoto Civic Center on Dec. 16, 2001 in a 83-72 Ole Miss victory. For ticket information on the Ole Miss hoops teams in Tupelo, call 662-841-6528 or go to www.bancorpsouthcenter.com.
TOUGH FINISHES: The Rebels' last two games have gone down to the wire, with Ole Miss coming up short in both occasions. The visiting Rebels led most of a nip-and-tuck second half at Arkansas State, but trailing by a score in the final moments, could not get a shot to go down. Inside the final 35 ticks, layups by Tommie Eddie and Londrick Nolen sat on the rim but refused to fall in Ole Miss's favor.
Misfortune struck the Rebels again against Florida State, as down by two points with 34 seconds left, Todd Abernethy's short jumper would bounce off the rim. Needing a three-pointer, Ole Miss would also fail to cash in on its final possession in the loss.
AWESOME EDDIE: After a slow start, Tommie Eddie has turned up the offense of late. Over the last three games, Eddie is averaging 18.3 points on 72-percent shooting and 7.0 rebounds. The senior forward enjoyed one of his best games as a Rebel in the win over Tennessee Tech, shooting a flawless 8-for-8 from the field en route to a career-high 24 points. Defensively, the Brooklyn native was also stellar against the Golden Eagles, registering a career-best four steals while helping limit Preseason OVC Player of the Year Willie Jenkins to two points. Eddie followed up the TTU game with another excellent outing at Arkansas State, with 18 points and eight boards. Last time out vs. Florida State, he was 4-of-5 from the field and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe for 13 points to go with a team-high nine rebounds. Eddie has taken over the team-lead in scoring at 11.2 per game, field goal percentage at .656, and rebounding at 4.7. He has also knocked down 25-of-35 free throws (.714 percent).
DECEMBER GIFTS: Over the last eight-plus seasons, Ole Miss has been receiving plenty of wins in December. Despite the 0-2 start to the month this season, the Rebels enjoy a 50-13 record (.794 winning percentage) in December games since 1996-97. Ole Miss was 5-2 during the holiday month last year.
RAINING TREYS: The Rebels have been an outstanding three-point shooting club thus far this season, firing at a better than 39 percent clip. Ole Miss nailed 13-of-24 threes (.542 percent) vs. Tennessee Tech and 11-of-23 (.478 percent) at Arkansas State. Junior Londrick Nolen is 11-of-24 (.458) from behind the arc, senior Justin Johnson is 12-of-28 (.429) and freshman Brandon Patterson is 10-of-25 (.400). In addition, Kendrick Fox has made 8-of-25 (.320), Todd Abernethy is 5-of-16 (.313), and Bam Doyne is 3-of-6 (.500). Newcomers Nolen and Patterson have each made good on five treys in a game, which ties the ninth-highest total in school history. Nolen pulled off the feat at ASU, while Patterson caught fire against Tennessee Tech.
MR. DO-IT-ALL: Some people think they can do everything, and newcomer Londrick Nolen is proving he can. The junior forward from Southwest Tennessee Community College joins Todd Abernethy as the only players to start all six games, and has filled the stat line in the process. Nolen currently tops the Rebels in steals (9), blocks (5) and three-point percentage (.458) and is one behind the leader in points (66), rebounds (27) and threes (11). He is also second in assists (14). Nolen tallied 13 points, six boards and six assists vs. Tennessee Tech, and followed that up with a team-best 21 points and 5-of-7 treys at Arkansas State.
TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an 105-38 record (.734 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Non-conference foes have found Ole Miss especially tough under head coach Rod Barnes (1998-99 through 2004-05), as the Rebels have an impressive 70-21 mark (.770 winning percentage) against out-of-conference teams. Ole Miss has been dominant against non-SEC clubs at home. Last week's loss to Florida State was only the Rebels' fourth non-conference home loss since 1995.
REBELS VERSUS CONFERENCE USA: The Rebels have an all-time record of 73-92 (.442 winning percentage) against current members of Conference USA. However, Ole Miss has a 10-4 record versus C-USA teams since the league was formed in the spring of 1995. Since the 1990-91 season, the Rebels are 11-5 versus members of Conference USA (3-4 vs. Memphis, 2-1 vs. Southern Mississippi; 2-0 vs. Houston and Louisville; 1-0 vs. Charlotte; 1-1 vs. East Carolina). Last year, the Rebels split their two C-USA games, falling to Memphis and defeating ECU.
ROOKIE SENSATION: Freshman guard Brandon Patterson is already making an impact in the Ole Miss offense. The Altheimer, Ark., native is among the team leaders in three-pointers with 10, and in his first career start against Tennessee Tech, he knocked down 5-of-8 from long range and finished with 19 points. Patterson's 19 points against Tennessee Tech was the most by a Rebel freshman since Justin Reed dropped 21 on Auburn on Feb. 21, 2001. Patterson also nailed three treys for nine points in his Rebel debut against South Carolina State. He has made 10-of-25 (.400 percentage) from the behind the arc for the season.
In the exhibition win over Spirit Express, Patterson was good on 4-of-6 threes and finished with 14 points.
TOP OF THE CLASS: The Rebels' 2004 signing class is being tabbed as one of the nation's best. HoopScoop Online is rating the class third in college basketball, while Rivals.com has it 16th-best in their latest ranking.
In the early signing period, Ole Miss loaded up its frontcourt with the inking of Trey Hampton (6-7, 215, Hoover, Ala.), Mike Smith (6-7, 240, Jacksonville, Ark), Carl Swanigan (6-9, 340, West Valley City, Utah), Xavier Webb (6-9, 200, Atwood, Tenn.) and Marquis Young (6-9, 275, Chicago), who has been named a candidate for this year's McDonald's All-Star Game. The two guards in the group are Jackson's Bobby Clark (6-6, 205) and juco scorer Clarence Sanders (6-2, 180), the lone transfer in the class, which represents seven different states.
Include Auburn transfer Dwayne Curtis, and the Rebels will add four 6-foot-9 players to the roster in 2005-06. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Curtis is ineligible for the current season, but the 6-foot-9, 290-pound sophomore center may begin playing in the 2005-06 campaign with three years of eligibility remaining.
SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: After enjoying his finest game as a Rebel in the season-opening win over S.C. State, Todd Abernethy was named the SEC Player of the Week on Nov. 15. A sophomore guard from Carmel, Ind., Abernethy posted a career-high 18 points, on 7-of-11 shooting, and scored eight of the Rebels' final 13 points as part of the game-winning second-half rally. He tied his career-best for rebounds with five and registered a game-high four assists.
This marks the first SEC POW selection of the 2004-05 season and the first of Abernethy's career. It is the 10th time a Rebel has received the honor since 1995-96.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Throughout his Rebel tenure, defense has become a trademark of Rod Barnes' squads. Ole Miss held the opposition under 50 points six times in 2003-04 and has done so 25 times in Barnes' six years at the helm. The Rebels finished fifth in the SEC in scoring defense a year ago at 65.4 per game.
Against Tennessee Tech, the Rebels forced the Golden Eagles into 25 turnovers and held CollegeInsider.com Preseason All-American Willie Jenkins to two points.
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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