Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes

Dec. 16, 2003

GAME #6: Ole Miss (2-3) vs. Evansville (1-4)
December 17, 2003 * 7:05 p.m. CT
Roberts Stadium * Evansville, Ind.

Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Gary Darby, color analyst)
Gametracker: NA

OLE MISS RETURNS TO ACTION AT EVANSVILLE: Ole Miss breaks an 11-day layoff Wednesday, traveling to Evansville for the Rebels' second road game of the young season. Ole Miss will be looking to even its record on the year and end a two-game skid. In their last outing, the Rebels dropped a 73-62 home decision to Memphis on Dec. 5, despite Justin Reed's 26 points and seven boards. The senior forward has topped Ole Miss in points and rebounds in all five games this season. Reed is the nation's eighth leading scorer and 13th-leading rebounder.

BARNES IN SIXTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in the midst of his sixth 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 102-64 record (.614 winning percentage). The 100 wins in his first five seasons is the most by a Rebel coach in that span of time in Ole Miss history. In 2000-01, Barnes was the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, guided Ole Miss to a school-record 17 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 EVANSVILLE: After opening the season with four consecutive losses, Evansville earned its first win of the new campaign Saturday, 86-76, over Eastern Illinois. Sophomore center/forward Deywane Lee tallied 17 points against the EIU and is leading the Purple Aces attack this season, dropping in 14 per game and shooting 61 percent from the field. Senior and preseason All-MVC first team selection Clint Cuffle is averaging 12.2 points and has made a team-high 11 three-pointers. As a team, Evansville is firing treys at a 41 percent clip. Steve Merfeld's second year with the Aces features a squad with six returnees, including three starters back, from a 12-16 team that finished fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference. Evansville was picked eighth in the preseason MVC poll.

OLE MISS-EVANSVILLE SERIES: Wednesday's game will be the second meeting between the two schools, with Ole Miss knocking off Evansville, 87-69, last year in the only previous encounter. The Rebels nailed eight first-half three-pointers and shot 12-for-22 on the day, with Aaron Harper and Justin Johnson hitting three treys apiece. UE's Clint Cuffle led all scorers with 28, while Justin Reed topped Ole Miss with 17.

COMEBACK KIDS: Despite coming up short, Ole Miss has used the three-pointer to turn in some impressive second-half comebacks in its last two games. Down 18 at the 14:15 mark against Florida State, the Rebels narrowed the gap to four with three minutes left. Justin Johnson nailed three consecutive three-pointers at one point, and Todd Abernethy knocked down two straight. In the Memphis game, Ole Miss trimmed a 17-point Tiger advantage to six, hitting seven straight shots - five three-pointers and two dunks. Kendrick Fox made three treys in a row, and Johnson was good on 2-of-3 after halftime. In the second half of its last two games, Ole Miss has made 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) from behind the three-point arc.

PROTECTING THE BALL: The Rebels have been among the nation's best this season in not turning the ball over. Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks top 20 in the NCAA in fewest turnovers per game (12.2). Over the last two games, the Rebels have committed a total of only 16 turnovers while forcing 28. Aaron Harper has led the charge with a team-high 11 steals, and he is fifth in the conference at 2.2 per game. Meanwhile, freshman point guard Todd Abernethy has turned in a 3.4/1 assist/turnover ratio.

REED'S UNSTOPPABLE START: Justin Reed is off to one of the greatest season starts in school history, leading the Rebels in points and rebounds in each of the team's first five games and posting four 20-point efforts. The senior forward's career-high 28 points vs. Centenary tied the most by an Ole Miss player since Marcus Hicks' 31 in 1999-2000. A native of Jackson, Miss., Reed also matched his career high for blocks with four against the Gents. Reed's career-high 19 rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana equaled the most by a Rebel since Walter Actwood's 20 in 1975. He also nailed a pair of game-clinching free throws against the Lions with 10 seconds left. Prior to the Florida State game, Reed had notched 20 or more points in five straight games, dating back to last season, and is the first Rebel to manage that feat since Keith Carter in 1998-99. Reed now boasts 14 career double-doubles and 15 20-point games. He ranks top three in the SEC in scoring (23.6 ppg) and rebounding (11.0 rpg).

BENEFITING FROM CHARITY: Ole Miss has been successful from the charity stripe of late. Despite a 2-for-6 night at Florida State, the Rebels have shot 72.7 percent (48-of-66) from the free throw line over the last four games, including a 13-for-17 effort against Memphis. Justin Reed has knocked down 81.8 percent over that stretch and was good on 12-of-14 vs. Southeastern Louisiana.

REBELS VERSUS THE VALLEY: The Rebels have an all-time record of 8-7 versus current members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Ole Miss has won six straight meetings against Valley competition dating back to 1996-97, including a 70-48 victory over Southwest Missouri State in the second round of the 2000 NIT.

HARPER RISES UP CHARTS: Aaron Harper, who joined the 1,000-point club and 200 three-pointer club a year ago, further made his imprint on the Rebel record book early this season. The 6-foot-7 swingman cracked the 20-point barrier against Centenary for the ninth time in his career, totaling 24, and knocked down a three-pointer to move into second on the Ole Miss career list for treys. Harper hit 65 threes in 2002-03, which is the fourth-most for a single season in Ole Miss history.

KENDRICK IN THE CLUTCH: Kendrick Fox has knocked down some key shots in his Rebel career but none were bigger than his game-deciding three-pointer against Southeastern Louisiana Saturday. With the Rebels trailing by one, the junior forward from Oxford put Ole Miss on top for good with his second trey of the afternoon with 28 seconds remaining. Fox finished with a career-high 10 points, and the Oxford native has since eclipsed that with 13 against Memphis with 3-of-5 three-pointers. He has earned the start in the last two games, and is third on the team in scoring at 7.4 per game.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Against Southeastern Louisiana, the Rebels displayed the defensive prowess that has become a trademark of Rod Barnes' squads. Ole Miss limited the Lions to 29 percent shooting on the day and 14 first-half points. The Rebels held their opponent under 50 points for the 21st time in Barnes' six years at the helm.

NEW REBELS STEP RIGHT IN: Five new Rebels have seen playing time this, and four have earned at least one start. Todd Abernethy has started the point in every game, while fellow freshman guard Bam Doyne has earned four starts. Abernethy was particular strong against Florida State with 11 points and four assists, while Doyne compiled six points and two assists vs. Southeastern Louisiana. Junior transfer Marvin Moore earned the start against Arkansas State and responded with 10 points and three rebounds. Forward Tommie Eddie has started two games, while fellow JUCO transfer Ed Glass came off the bench for six points in the win over Centenary.

AMONG SEC'S TOP TANDEMS: With Justin Reed and Aaron Harper back, the Rebels have an advantage enjoyed by few others. Ole Miss is one of only two teams in the Southeastern Conference to return its top two scorers from last year, with Arkansas being the other club. The senior duo of Reed and Harper, who is currently averaging over 23 and 12, respectively, was voted among the top tandems in college hoops by Basketball News. Reed and Harper have spent the majority of their basketball lives together, having teamed up at Provine High School in Jackson, Miss., before arriving in Oxford.

TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Over the last 10-plus years, the Rebels have posted an 97-34 record (.740 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 62-17 mark (.785 winning percentage) against out-of-conference teams. Ole Miss has been dominant against non-SEC clubs at home. The loss to Memphis was only the Rebels' third non-conference home loss since 1995.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: The Rebel will enjoy the cozy confines of the Tad Pad all throughout the holiday season. Of Ole Miss' first 14 games, 12 are in Oxford, including the Southeastern Conference opener with Mississippi State on Jan. 7. The Rebels turned in a 10-6 home record in 2002-03, and has won 99 of its last 114 games (.868 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 15 and 29 games. In the past 10 seasons (1992-93 through 2002-03), Ole Miss has an overall home record of 124-26 (.827 winning percentage).

SPARK PLUG: Cavadas Nunnery provided a spark off the Rebel bench against Arkansas State. The junior guard collected a team-high seven assists, marking the first time for him to ever lead Ole Miss in dimes. Nunnery finished with career-highs in minutes (26), assists (7) and rebounds (4). The Magnolia, Miss., native was also 1-for-1 shooting with a pair of steals.

REED PILES UP PRESEASON HONORS: Justin Reed is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of Rebel basketball, and the awards continued to pour in this preseason. The senior forward earned Preseason All-SEC first team status from Athlon Sports, Basketball News, Lindy's, Street & Smith's and Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook. Athlon's ranked him the No. 5 "inside-out player" in college basketball. Reed was also rated the 11th-best power forward in the nation by Lindy's and the 14th-best by The Sporting News. Reed has earned All-SEC honors each of his three collegiate seasons, and was a preseason Wooden Award candidate each of the last two seasons. He is the only player from the state of Mississippi to ever be nominated twice.

GOOD OMEN: The Ole Miss Rebels were picked to finish in sixth in the Southeastern Conference Western Division in a vote by media members at the annual conference media day Oct. 29 in Birmingham, Ala. The last time the Rebels were picked so low was prior to the 2000-01 season, when Ole Miss claimed the SEC West crown en route to a school-record 27 wins and a Sweet 16 appearance. LSU was picked to win the Western Division crown, while Kentucky was selected to win the Eastern Division championship and the SEC overall title.

BARNES TOPPLES CENTURY MARK: With the Rebels' victory over South Carolina in the 2003 Southeastern Conference Tournament first round, Rod Barnes recorded the 100th win of his career. His record currently stands at 102-64. The 102 victories are second most in Ole Miss history, trailing only B.L. "Country" Graham's (1950-62) 145 wins. Barnes is the only coach in the program's history to average 20 wins per season.

FUTURE REBELS: The future of Ole Miss hoops got even brighter mid-November as the Rebels added three new players for the 2004-05 season. Ole Miss received national letters of intent from Arkansas natives Jeremy Parnell, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward/center from Gosnell, and Brandon Patterson, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound swingman from Altheimer, and Jackson's Bobby Clark, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound guard.

An All-State first team pick a year ago, Parnell averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks as a junior at Gosnell High School, where he was coached by Len Whitehead. Included in his 2002-03 campaign was a triple-double performance against Senath (Mo.), tallying 21 points, 11 boards and 10 blocks.

Patterson helped guide Altheimer High School to a 34-1 mark and a 2A state championship as a junior a year ago, earning state tournament MVP honors along the way. For the season, he averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Clark is a two-time All-State selection at nationally-ranked Lanier High School, where he has attended the last two years. At Lanier, Clark averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists during his sophomore campaign, and last year, he posted 15 points, seven boards and seven assists per game as a junior.



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