Live Radio | Live Stats
GAME 12: Ole Miss (9-2) vs. UIC (6-5)
December 19, 2006 7 p.m. CT
Oxford, Miss. C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700)
* FREE ADMISSION *
Live TV: SportsSouth (Bernie Genthner, play-by-play; Daymeon Fishback, analyst)
Live Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, analyst; Richard Cross, analyst)
OLE MISS RETURNS HOME FOR UIC
The Rebels begin a two-game homestand with UIC Tuesday. As a holiday special, admission to both games are free. Ole Miss has matched its best start since the 2000-01 squad opened 11-0. After equaling his career best in points with 25 against Louisiana-Monroe, Bam Doyne set a new high with 28 in leading the Rebels to an 82-72 victory at South Alabama Saturday. Dwayne Curtis followed up his double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) against ULM with 16 and 9 in his first start of the year. The Rebels shot 52.6 percent against the Jags and finished with a 39-26 rebounding edge.
SCOUTING THE FLAMES
Illinois-Chicago rebounded from a 71-66 loss to Illinois by defeating Akron Saturday 86-80. Winners in four of their last five games, the Flames returned four starters from last year’s 16-15 squad. Among them is junior forward Othyus Jeffers, who leads the Flames with 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Josh Mayo is once again averaging double-digits at 13.6 ppg, while senior forward Jovan Stefanov is adding 10.4 ppg. In his 11th campaign as UIC head coach, Jimmy Collins is the team’s winningest head coach with 168 victories and has guided the Flames to four postseason appearances, including three NCAA Tournaments (1998, 2002 and 2004).
OLE MISS-UIC SERIES
Tuesday’s game will mark the second encounter between the Rebels and Flames. The only other meeting was an 87-75 overtime UIC win in Chicago last year. Dwayne Curtis returned to his hometown with 20 points, while Clarence Sanders scored 16.
REBELS VS. STATE OF ILLINOIS
Ole Miss has faced its share of Illinois teams over the years, matching up 16 times with teams from the Prairie State. The Rebels have competed against the Fighting Illini twice and DePaul once. Ole Miss played at UIC last year and faced Illinois State at the 2004 BCA Classic in Milwaukee.
Ole Miss features a Windy City native on its roster in Dwayne Curtis. The junior center prepped at Whitney Young High School, where he was a Chicago Tribune All-City performer. Facing UIC last year in his hometown, Curtis filled the stat line with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocked shots.
Andy Kennedy’s style of “pressure basketball” has paid some dividends for the 9-2 Rebels, particular on the offensive side. Ole Miss is averaging 77.7 points per game, a 12.5 raise from a year ago, and connecting on 38.5 percent of its 3-pointers, which is a 5.7 improvement. The Rebels’ 100-80 victory over Nicholls marked only the second time since 2001 for the team to reach the century mark in points. Ole Miss’ current scoring clip is the highest since averaging 80.5 per game in 1997-98.
The Rebels currently rank fourth in the SEC in free throw percentage at 71.2. That figure is over 8 points better than last year’s 63.0 percentage and would be the highest since firing at a 72.6 clip in 2002-03. The Ole Miss seniors are leading the charge with Bam Doyne at 85.5, Todd Abernethy at 82.6 and Clarence Sanders at 80.8.
DOYNE IT ALL
Bam Doyne is among the SEC statistical leaders this season, ranking third in scoring (18.5), 11th in rebounding (6.6), second in free throw accuracy (85.5) and ninth in minutes played (32.18). The senior guard has topped the team or tied for the team-lead in scoring in six games, including a career-high 28 in Saturday’s win at South Alabama. The USA performance marked his eighth 20-point game in the Red and Blue and fifth of the year, which includes at pair of 25-point outings against Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. Doyne has also notched his first two career double-doubles this season with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls and 20 points and a career-best 12 boards against Fairfield. Doyne has led or tied the team-lead in rebounds five times.
In only his second game back from injury, Dwayne Curtis looked like his old self against Louisiana-Monroe, notching a double-double less than 15 minutes into the contest. The preseason All-SEC honoree finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. He nearly repeated that feat at South Alabama Saturday with 16 points and 9 boards. Curtis suffered a stress fracture of the third metatarsal in his left foot in the third day of preseason practice and missed the first eight games of the year. He returned to the court at Memphis and saw 17 minutes of action, grabbing 6 rebounds and scoring 2 points.
In his first season in the Red and Blue, Curtis earned AP All-SEC honorable mention status and NABC All-District second team honors. He ranked among the league leaders in nine categories and topped Ole Miss in scoring (13.6), rebounding (7.6), steals (1.6), blocks (0.6) and field goal percentage (.568, which ranked second in the SEC). Curtis scored in double-figures in 21 games with six 20-point outings and seven double-doubles.
After a streaky first season in the Red and Blue, Clarence Sanders has been a steady point provider for the Rebels this year, scoring in double-figures in nine of the last 10 games and ranking 12th in the SEC at 14.9 points per game. He is also eighth in the league in 3-point percentage (.397) and ninth in 3s per game (2.09). In the Louisiana-Lafayette win, the senior guard connected on 4-of-7 treys in leading the Rebels with 22 points. He followed up with a team-high 21 against Fairfield and turned in his fifth career 20-point outing with 20 against Nicholls. After posting a .357 shooting clip a year ago, Sanders boasts a .451 field goal percentage this season, which is 10th-best in the conference.
RAISING HIS GAME
Senior guard Todd Abernethy has raised his scoring average and assist total in each of his seasons as a Rebel, and this year, those figures are jumping again. He is averaging double-figure points for the first time and turned in the best offensive game of his career against Nicholls with 23 points, missing only two shots all night. Abernethy is the SEC leader in assist/turnover ratio (3.43) and ranks sixth in the SEC in assists (4.80 per game). He equaled his career-best assist total at South Alabama Saturday with 9 handouts.
Eniel Polynice has come into his own of late, posting a pair of double-digit scoring performances and hitting 6-of-9 3-pointers over the last four games. The freshman guard had his best game as a Rebel against New Orleans, knocking down 4-of-4 3-pointers in totaling 15 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Polynice dropped in 12 of his points in the second half in helping Ole Miss rally from 7 down early in the stanza. He followed up with 10 points in a career-high 29 minutes at Memphis. Down 12-3 early, Polynice came off the bench to score three of the next four Ole Miss baskets to help ignite a 21-11 Rebel run.
Polynice also sparked Ole Miss to victory against Central Arkansas in the HCF Classic. With Ole Miss clinging two a two-point advantage midway through the second half, Polynice scored 8 points in 2:18 to push the lead up to 10. The Sarasota, Fla., native drilled a pair of 3-pointers in recording that career-high point total.
OTHER PLAYER POINTS
Todd Abernethy: The senior guard missed the first game of his career against Louisiana-Lafayette. He was injured three minutes into the season opener after his head collided with an opposing player’s shoulder on a screen. He suffered a slight concussion and had five stitches over his right eye. After sitting out the ULL game, the three-time Team Captain returned to the Ole Miss starting lineup with 13 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds against Fairfield.
Trey Hampton: After missing two games with sickness, the sophomore forward returned to the court against New Orleans and added 5 points and 4 boards ... Hampton enjoyed his best game of the year against Central Arkansas. With Kenny Williams slowed by a sprained ankle, Hampton earned his first start of 2006-07 and posted season highs in minutes (25), points (8), rebounds (5) and assists (2). He was also 2-of-4 from behind the arc.
Xavier Hansbro: After making no starts as a rookie, the sophomore forward received the starting nod in the season’s first two games. In his first career start in the opening 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 hit 4-of-6 3-pointers for 12 points against Southern Utah.
Greg Hardy: Hardy began practicing with the team on Nov. 27, following Ole Miss’ Egg Bowl victory over Mississippi State in the football season finale. He has yet to dress for a game. As a freshman on the football team, Hardy played in all 12 games on the defensive line, tying for the team-lead in sacks (3.0) and ranking fifth in total tackles (49). His four fumble recoveries also tied for third in the SEC, and against MSU, he saw his first action at wide receiver and hauled in a 23-yard touchdown.
Jermey Parnell: The junior forward recently enjoyed a three-game span of averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 75.0-percent shooting. In the win over Tennessee Tech, Parnell tallied 14 points and 8 rebounds, and he followed up with 13 points and 4 boards against Nicholls. Against New Orleans, the Gosnell, Ark., native established a career high in scoring with 16 points, going 5-for-5 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe.
Brian Smith: With starting point guard Todd Abernethy leaving with injury in the game’s opening moments, junior guard Smith stepped in admirably in the season opener, helping lead the Rebels to the 72-49 victory over Mississippi Valley State. 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 5-foot-11 guard earned his first career start against Louisiana-Lafayette and saw 17 minutes of action.
Kenny Williams: The junior forward recently averaged 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 65.5-percent shooting over a three-game span. Williams hit for 15 points and 6 boards against New Orleans and had his best game as a Rebel against Nicholls with his first double-double, posting career highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Those numbers bested his strong totals in the previous game against Tennessee Tech when he struck for 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals ... Williams also stood out in the win over Louisiana-Lafayette, posting 12 points and 8 boards.
IMPRESSIVE IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted an impressive 131-43 record (.753 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.
TOUGH AT THE TAD PAD
Over the last decade, the “Tad Pad” proved to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to play. With a 6-0 mark this year, Ole Miss has won 139 of its last 171 games (.813 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 373-179 (.676 winning percentage) at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season.
REBELS ON THE TUBE
Ole Miss is making its sixth TV appearance of the year against UIC, as the game is available on SportsSouth. The Rebels are scheduled to make at least 18 television appearances in 2006-07, marking the ninth straight season that Ole Miss has played on TV 10 or more times. In one of five games on Fox Sports Net, the Rebels open league play with Kentucky in a Saturday night clash in Oxford on FSN South. Ole Miss and Mississippi State renew their bitter rivalry in Oxford with an ESPN “Super Tuesday” showdown. The Rebels are playing four games on Lincoln Financial Sports, four on SportsSouth, three on CSS and an ESPNU appearance at Connecticut. In addition, four early-season games were streamed live over the internet on OleMissSport.com’s premium site, OleMissSports.tv.
REBELS ENTER KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION
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.