Ole Miss Basketball Game Notes
Dec. 26, 2003
GAME #9: Ole Miss (5-3) vs. Nicholls State (5-4)
OLE MISS LOOKS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT WIN: Ole Miss continues a six-game homestand today against Nicholls State. The Rebels ride in on a three-game win streak, including a 64-56 conquest of Jacksonville State on Monday. Justin Reed regained his touch, collecting team highs in points (21) and rebounds (7). It marked the senior forward's sixth 20-point effort of the season and the 16th of his career. Ole Miss follows up today's game with Alabama State on Tuesday, East Carolina on Jan. 3 and the Southeastern Conference opener with rival Mississippi State on Jan. 7.
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 105-64 record (.621 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).
TIME CHANGE: The Ole Miss-East Carolina game on Jan. 3 has been moved to a newly-schedule time of 7 p.m. CT at Tad Smith Coliseum. The game was previously set for 2 p.m.
SCOUTING NICHOLLS STATE: After an 0-2 start, Nicholls State followed up with five wins in its next seven games to move above the .500 mark on the season. However, last time out, NSU suffered its first loss at home this season against Birmingham Southern, 88-80. Senior guard Markeith Brown led five Colonels in double-figures with 17 points. Junior point guard Willie Depron has been Nicholls' best offensive weapon this season, dropping in 18.6 points per game including a 30-point outing against Southern. He has also topped the team on the boards with a 5.9 rebounding average. In his second year at the helm, NSU head coach Ricky Blanton is meshing a host of new faces as only three players return from last year's 3-25 squad.
OLE MISS-NICHOLLS STATE SERIES: Today's game marks the fourth meeting between the two schools, with Ole Miss winning all three previous encounters with Nicholls State. In last year's meeting, Aaron Harper connected on 5-of-7 three-pointers and scorched the Colonels for 21 points in a 63-52 Rebel victory at the Tad Pad. Including the other matchups in 1988 and 1995, which were both played in Oxford, Ole Miss has beaten NSU by an average margin of 15.3.
REED NEARING ELITE CLUB: Pouring in over 18 points per game, Justin Reed is approaching an elite Rebel category. With his sixth 20-point effort of the season against Jacksonville State, the senior forward cracked the 1400-point plateau and needs only one more to tie Eric Laird (1982-85) for 10th on the Ole Miss career scoring chart. With 639 rebounds in the Red and Blue, Reed is also nearing the top 10 in boards. He is currently 11th in Rebel career rebounding and 32 short of tying Jason Smith (1996-99) for 10th all-time. Reed could become only the fifth Rebel to rank top 10 in both career points and rebounds.
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 seven of eight games this season and is averaging 16.7 points over his last three games. He is also on the fringe of the Rebels' top 20 career scorers. He enters Sunday's game two points behind Ken Turner (1967-69) for 20th on the scoring list.
PROTECTING THE BALL: The Rebels have been among the SEC's best this season in not turning the ball over. Ole Miss ranks 13th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (12.4) and is tied for third in the conference in TO margin (+3.0). Leading the charge is freshman point guard Todd Abernethy, who is the SEC's leader in assist/turnover ratio (3.9/1). The Rebels have forced 16 or more turnovers in five of the eight games, and tallied a season-high 12 steals against Louisiana-Monroe, led by Cavadas Nunnery and Justin Johnson with five apiece.
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 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).
REBELS VERSUS THE SOUTHLAND: The Rebels have an all-time record of 40-6 (.870 winning percentage) versus current members of the Southland Conference. Dating back to 1996, Ole Miss has won 13 straight games vs. the Southland, including victories over Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana-Monroe earlier this year
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 101 of its last 115 games (.878 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 126-26 (.829 winning percentage).
TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Over the last 10-plus years, the Rebels have posted an 100-34 record (.746 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 65-17 mark (.793 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.
RALLY TIME: From Nov. 29 through Dec. 20, Ole Miss turned in five straight 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 victory at Evansville, as Ole Miss rallied from 13 down in the second frame to earn a 69-66 road win over the Aces. 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. In the second half of those five games, Ole Miss made 27-of-50 (54 percent) from behind the three-point arc.
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 over that stretch. 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 16 20-point games.
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.
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 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 seven points in the win over Jacksonville State.
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 19 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 105-64. The 105 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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