In Ole Miss' home opener Friday night, senior center Tommie Eddie was everything he wasn't in the Rebels' season-opening tournament in Milwaukee.
The 6-foot-7 senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Coffeyville (Kan.) CC, came out aggressive in his team's 91-68 win over visiting Tennessee Tech. Before the night was through, Eddie, who had only 12 total points in three games at the BCA Classic, would score 24 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the floor, as well as 8-of-11 from the free throw line.
So how'd he make the quick change from looking like an inexperienced college player earlier in the week to a star Friday night? He listened to his coach, that's how.
"Coach (Rod Barnes) just told me to play hard and stay focused and to not take a bounce any more (when he got the ball inside the lane)," said a slimmer Eddie, who has lost more than 30 pounds since last season to weigh 245 currently. "When I got the ball tonight, I just went straight up to the goal."
And every single time, the ball went in.
"I just took my time and put it in the hole," said Eddie, who also had four steals, four rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes of action against Tennessee Tech. "I just went out and had to do what I had to do. I did what Coach told me."
Barnes said he was pleased with his senior post man.
"I thought Tommie played well," Barnes said. "It was his best game here. He had some games here like that last season, but he was so heavy he'd run out of gas. The reason he is successful now is that he doesn't have to come out of the game because of fatigue. That's really helped him. I thought our guys did a good job of feeding the ball into the post. Tonight Tommie did a better job of catching the basketball. He answered the call tonight and had a big game for us."
But so did several other Rebels.
Freshman guard Brandon Patterson, in his home debut, lit up the scoreboard with 19 points, going 5-of-8 from 3-point range and 6-of-10 overall. He was 2-of-2 from the line.
Junior forward Londrick Nolen had 13 points (5-of-10 overall including 3-of-6 from 3-point range), six assists, six rebounds, and a blocked shot as he becomes a big part of what the Rebels are trying to do.
Sophomore guard Todd Abernethy had 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 1-for-3 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the line.
"It was refreshing to see so many guys step up and to see us score 91 points," Barnes said. "I still thought we could have done even better. We missed some shots. That's one of the reasons we'll practice tomorrow and all during Thanksgiving holidays. We have to continue to get better. I have asked these guys to score 72 points a night, because I feel with our defense we can win if we score 72 points. We need to continue to get better on the offensive end."
Patterson said he "felt it" all night as he proved the preseason reports on him to be accurate - that he can shoot and that he can score.
"I was nervous in Milwaukee being a freshman playing on the college level coming from high school basketball. There is some adjustment," said the first-team all-state in Arkansas last year as a high school senior. "It's just so different, so much more comfortable playing at home. I was really excited about playing at home."
Barnes put Nolen on Tech's best player - All-American forward Willie Jenkins.
"I challenged him today," Barnes said. "Y'all know how much I love defense, and that's why I challenged him today. Londrick played tonight like he's been practicing."
Jenkins had but two points in 30 minutes.
"It wasn't just me," said Nolen, the juco transfer from Southwest Tennessee CC in Memphis. "I had help from my team. I just went out and did what I could and what I always try to do."
Eddie scored the first four points of the game as Ole Miss got an early lead. The game was tight until the Rebs, leading 27-23 with just under six minutes to go in the first half, went on a 23-11 run to end the half and lead 50-34 at intermission.
The Rebels scored the first 10 points of the second half to all but put this one away. The lead reached 26 points at 60-34 with 16:26 to go when Nolen took an offensive rebound and stuffed it.
The largest UM lead of the night was 29 points (84-55) at the 2:10 mark on a 3-pointer by senior guard Justin Johnson.
Tennessee Tech head coach Mike Sutton, a former Tubby Smith assistant at Kentucky and Georgia, was impressed with Ole Miss' play.
"Rod's team played extremely well and was certainly prepared," Sutton said, whose team ironically was supposed to play in the same BCA Tournament in Milwaukee as the Rebels but had to pull out of the field because of a schedule change. "They shot the ball well, played good defense, and executed well. I was in the Southeastern Conference for several years, so I've seen Ole Miss play a lot. If they shoot it as well as they did tonight, they'll be tough to beat here in the Tad Pad."
Ole Miss shot a very impressive 54 percent (32-59) overall and from 3-point land went 13-24 (also 54 percent). From the line the Rebs were 14-18 (78 percent).
The Golden Eagles shot it well too - 52 percent (22-42) overall, 50 percent from 3-point range (6-12), and 18-25 from the line (72 percent).
Ole Miss had a small edge in rebounding 27-26.
The Rebels next action is Friday night when they host Spirit Express in an exhibition game at C.M. "Tad" Smith Colsieum the night before the Egg Bowl.
The next "counting" action for Ole Miss is Wed., Dec. 1 at Arkansas State.
Rebs throttle Golden Eagles
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