Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Dec. 21, 2003
GAME #8: Ole Miss (4-3) vs. Jacksonville State (5-3)
OLE MISS CONTINUES SIX-GAME HOMESTAND WITH JACKSONVILLE STATE: Ole Miss continues a six-game homestand Monday against Jacksonville State. The Rebels ended an 11-day layoff with a perfect 2-0 week, earning its first road win of the season Wednesday at Evansville, 69-66, and holding off Louisiana-Monroe at home Saturday, 66-64. Ole Miss rallied from 12 down against UL-Monroe and 13 down in the second half vs. Evansville for the victories. Aaron Harper led the Rebels in scoring, averaging 18 points in last week's two triumphs.
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 104-64 record (.619 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 JACKSONVILLE STATE: Jacksonville State has won three of its last four games, including a 71-58 victory at Savannah State Tuesday. Trailing 37-33 with less than 18 minutes left in the game, Jax State used a 25-6 run to break open the game and then held off a late SSU rally for the win. Senior guard James Denson scored a season-high 16 points to lead four Gamecocks in double-figures. Senior forward Trent Eager tallied 11 and is leading the club this season in scoring (14.9) and rebounding (5.5). Mike LaPlante's fourth year with the Gamecocks features a squad with 11 returnees, but only two starters back, from a 20-10 team. JSU is in its first season as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference and was tabbed to finish 10th in the preseason poll.
OLE MISS-JACKSONVILLE STATE SERIES: Monday's game marks the third meeting between the two schools, with Ole Miss winning both previous encounters with Jacksonville State. The Rebels earned a 74-59 victory over the Gamecocks in Oxford in 1999 in what was the first matchup between the two in over 50 years. In 1948, Ole Miss slipped by the then Alabama Teachers College, 50-48, in Jacksonville, Ala.
HARPER HEATS UP: After some tough games to start the season, Aaron Harper has cranked out the offense of late and made defenses pay for keying in on Justin Reed. Harper tallied 17 points and five threes at Evansville, and knocked down 4-for-4 treys in the second-half game-winning rally. The senior forward also topped the team in rebounds with seven and assists with six against the Aces. He followed up by leading Ole Miss past Louisiana-Monroe with a team-high 19 points. Harper has scored in double-figures in six of seven games this season and needs only 16 more points to tie Ken Turner (1967-69) for 20th on the Ole Miss career scoring chart with 1,159 points.
RALLY TIME: In its last five games, Ole Miss has turned in some impressive comebacks. Down 18 with 14:15 remaining at Florida State, the Rebels narrowed the gap to four with three minutes left before coming up short. Despite losing to Memphis, Ole Miss trimmed the Tigers' 17-point, second-half advantage to six, hitting seven straight shots at one point - five three-pointers and two dunks. The Rebel comebacks finally resulted in a win Wednesday, as Ole Miss rallied from 13 down in the second frame to earn a 69-66 victory at Evansville. The Rebels connected on 9-of-13 second-half threes, including Fox's game-winner with four seconds remaining. Ole Miss also trailed by as much as 11 late in the first half to Louisiana-Monroe before reversing its fortunes for the 66-64 win Saturday. In the second half of its last four games, Ole Miss has made 27-of-50 (54 percent) from behind the three-point arc.
BRANCHING OUT: He's been a head coach himself only six years, but Rod Barnes is planting an extensive coaching tree with former players and staff members. Five former players are in the coaching ranks, and two will return to Oxford this week. Ex-Rebel standout Michael White (1996-99) is on the opposing bench today as a member of the Jacksonville State staff, while Chris Oney (1997-98) was sitting opposite the Red and Blue on Saturday as a Louisiana-Monroe assistant coach. In addition, Anthony Boone (1995-98) is an assistant coach at Jackson State, and Jason Flanigan (1998-2001) is at Xavier University (La.). Joezon Darby (1996-98) is the head coach at Brandon High School in Brandon, Miss.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE: Over the last four games, the Rebels have been successfully dialing from three-point distance. Ole Miss has nailed 52-of-158 three-pointers (32.9 percent) over that stretch, including an SEC season-high 14 treys at Evansville. The Rebels currently lead the conference in threes-per-game (7.43).
REED NEARING TOP 10: Pouring in over 18 points per game, Justin Reed is approaching yet another Rebel milestone. The senior forward is one point away from 1400 for his career and needs only 22 more to tie Eric Laird (1982-85) for 10th on the Ole Miss career scoring chart. With 632 rebounds in the Red and Blue, Reed is also nearing the top 10 in boards. He is currently 12th in Rebel career rebounding and 39 short of tying Jason Smith (1996-99) for 10th all-time.
KENDRICK IN THE CLUTCH: With seniors Justin Reed and Aaron Harper providing the bulk of the Rebel scoring, Ole Miss has been in need to a third option on offense, and so far, the man to step into that role has been Kendrick Fox. He has started the last four games and has thrice established a new career high in points this season. With the Rebels trailing by one to Southeastern Louisiana, the junior forward 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. He posted a new career best against Memphis, nailing three straight second-half three-pointers en route to 13 points to go with five boards. Then came Fox's night to shine. With Reed sidelined with foul trouble at Evansville, Fox took over offensive responsibilities, tying Aaron Harper with a team-high 17 points. Fox connected on the final two shots of the game, and with the score tied with four seconds remaining, he knocked down a long, heroic three-pointer to hand Ole Miss the win. It was one of five treys for Fox, which was also a career first. He currently ranks fourth in the SEC in threes made (17) and three-point pct. (.447).
PROTECTING THE BALL: The Rebels have been among the SEC's best this season in not turning the ball over. Ole Miss tops the conference in fewest turnovers per game (12.7) and is fourth in TO margin (+2.57). The Rebels boast the SEC's leader in assist/turnover ratio in freshman point guard Todd Abernethy (4.2/1), while junior Cavadas Nunnery ranks seventh (2.2/1). Nunnery is also top 10 in the league in steals per game (1.86). The Rebels tallied a season-high 12 steals against Louisiana-Monroe, led by Nunnery and Justin Johnson with five apiece.
REBELS VERSUS THE OVC: The Rebels have an all-time record of 16-5 (.762 winning percentage) versus current members of the Ohio Valley Conference, which added Jacksonville State and Samford this season. Dating back to 1993, Ole Miss has won five straight games vs. the OVC, including a 57-49 triumph over Samford and a 74-46 win over Austin Peay a year ago.
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 100 of its last 114 games (.877 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 125-26 (.828 winning percentage).
TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Over the last 10-plus years, the Rebels have posted an 99-34 record (.744 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 64-17 mark (.790 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.
REED'S INCREDIBLE START: Justin Reed jumped out 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.
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.
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.
NEW REBELS STEP RIGHT IN: Five new Rebels have seen action this season, 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 contributed a key 11 points in the Evansville victory, 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 18 and 14, 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.
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 104-64. The 104 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 in 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.
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