Ole Miss Better Since Last UA Game

FAYETTEVILLE -- Much has changed for Ole Miss since it was blown out 69-46 at Arkansas a month ago.

This time, the Rebels (12-10, 3-6) holster a full arsenal and a new attitude heading into Saturday's rematch against Arkansas (14-7, 2-6) at 4 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum.

In the Jan. 5 loss at Arkansas, 6-foot-7 senior forward Tommie Eddie didn't make the trip while tending to academic issues.

"I think Tommie makes us better," said Ole Miss seventh-year coach Rod Barnes. "It'll be a fresh game because of the situation that happened up there and I think both teams have found out a little more about themselves and about their team, so it'll be a different game."

Coming off a 70-55 home win against Auburn, the biggest change may be in the Rebels' attitudes.

"We really feel like our kids have some confidence after the (Auburn) win," Barnes said. "It'll be a tough matchup for us, but we're in a better frame of mind after winning ... so hopefully we'll play better than what we did up in Fayetteville."

They didn't know what to expect the first time against Arkansas without Eddie, their second-leading scorer (12.1 points per game) and rebounder (4.5), and looked like deer in headlights for most of their Southeastern Conference debut.

"(Eddie) certainly a focal point for their team," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath, who added that his team prepared for Eddie before the first game. "With him back in the lineup, we'll have to do a good job of giving him some attention, but at the same time, not allowing other guys to maybe step up beyond what they've normally been doing."

In Eddie's place, Barnes was forced to give freshman Jeremy Parnell, a 6-9 forward from Gosnell, his first start when the team learned that Eddie wouldn't be playing that night on the bus ride to Bud Walton Arena.

Barnes said the inexperienced Parnell was outmanned by Hogs big men Steven Hill and Darian Townes, a disadvantage he hopes levels out with Eddie back in the lineup.

"Now we've got an older guy that will be going up against (Hill and Townes) and I think we'll be more confident as a basketball team," Barnes said

Another difference has been the play of freshman Brandon Patterson. Patterson, a 6-6 sharp shooter from Altheimer, started three games before being regulated to a reserve role since conference play began. He's 31 of 80 (38. 7 percent) on 3-point shots while averaging nearly 18 minutes off the bench.

"He's a guy that really is not afraid to jump up and take shots for us and he's really shooting the ball well," Barnes said. "I think what he's also done for us is give us a ball handler and I thought he made some great passes (against Auburn).

"Since he's been on the bench, I think he's more comfortable there first ... but I'm not afraid, as we go along, to put him back in the starting lineup now."

Arkansas was holding out on point guards and looking to add a pair of big men when Patterson verbally committed to sign with Ole Miss before his senior season.

Heath and his staff evaluated Patterson, who teamed with current Razorback Marcus Monk on the Arkansas Hawks' AAU team, but never extended a scholarship offer.

"I was always impressed with him," Heath said. "But our major need in recruiting was big guys last year and possibly point guards, so we went in that direction. It had nothing to do with the talent that that young man has."

Ole Miss 6-6 forward Londrick Nolen is the team's leading scorer (12.9 points per game) and rebounder (5.0). He had a team-high 19 points against Arkansas, taking up the slack in Eddie's absence.

"I think people are focusing on him more," Barnes said. "He is trying to learn how to score when people are looking to stop him."

Arkansas has not won on the road in the last 13 tries and has not won at Ole Miss since a 63-62 win in 1996, two factors Barnes said won't be a factor on Saturday.

"Most of the guys that we have on this team have not played major roles in beating Arkansas here," Barnes said. "That won't mean a whole lot to us. The thing that will mean a lot to us is that it's our next game, it's our home and we try to make this a tough place to play regardless of who comes in here.

"And we need the game. We need wins."

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