Ole Miss left Milwaukee, Wisc., in mid-November a 1-2 basketball team with a long way to go. But even at 2-4 a couple of weeks later, it was obvious they'd gotten better.
Tonight in Richmond, Va., the Rebels stand at 7-4 and are a team with a good shot at winning an important road game.
Ole Miss carries a season-long five-game winning streak into the encounter at VCU (6:30 p.m. CT). Including games on a neutral floor, the Rebels are 2-3 away from Oxford this season. Ole Miss finished a stretch of five games in 11 days in Tupelo last week with a 92-64 win over Tennessee-Martin by winning all five contests, including the last four by an average margin of victory of 30 points.
Senior forward Tommie Eddie has averaged 14.8 points and 71.7 percent shooting during the streak and posted 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the win against UT-Martin last time out. Eddie tops the Rebels in scoring (12.8), rebounding (4.7) and field goal percentage (69.2).
Virginia Commonwealth, 4-4 on the year, is not necessarily a college basketball powerhouse, but they do have excellent basketball tradition. They are also 4-0 at home this season. So it won't be an easy place for the Rebs to get a victory.
VCU is coached by former Duke player Jeff Capel. Still only 29 years old, he won nearly 70% of his games his first two seasons there (41-18). The Rams were 18-10 overall and 12-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association his first season. His 18 wins matched the highest total for a first-year men's basketball coach at VCU. His second season was one of the finest in Virginia Commonwealth University history.
The Rams compiled a 23-8 overall record, including a 12-2 mark at home in the ALLTEL Pavilion at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. VCU captured the CAA regular-season title with a 14-4 conference mark. As the top seed in the CAA Tournament, the Rams captured the tourney title with a 55-54 victory over George Mason in the championship game. VCU was the #13 seed in the East Rutherford Regional and met #4 Wake Forest in Raleigh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Rams battled the Demon Deacons to the wire before Wake Forest prevailed 79-78.
The Rams had to replace their top two scorers and top rebounder from last year's team. CAA Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American Domonic Jones averaged 16.3 points per game, while Troy Godwin averaged 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a season ago.
Virginia Commonwealth is shooting 41.8 percent with a 39.1 three-point clip at ALLTELL Pavilion, where the Rams are 65-11 all-time. However, one of those 11 losses was an 88-84 overtime defeat to Ole Miss on Nov. 25, 2000.
VCU returned nine players and three starters from last year's team. Among the returning starters is junior forward Nick George, who averages 14.1 points and 4.5 rebounds. George dropped in 24 points against American Univ. and 20 vs. Hampton. Sophomore guard B.A. Walker is posting 13.0 points per outing and tallied 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in Wednesday's 77-72 loss at Iona last time out.
The Rebels lead the all-time series with Virginia Commonwealth 3-0. Ole Miss won the last meeting between the two schools in the 2002-03 season 82-68 in Oxford in Capel's first season with the Rams.
The Rebels also took the 1999-2000 Oxford encounter 75-62 and the 2000-01 matchup in Richmond, 88-84 in OT, which was the Rebel team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Virginia Commonwealth will stream a live five-camera shoot of the game tonight from Richmond. The cost of the video stream is $5. If interested go to:
Following tonight's game, the Rebels wrap up 2004-05 non-conference action with Southeastern Louisiana in Oxford Friday at 2 p.m.
*** UM and VCU athletics media relations contributed information for this story.
Rebs in the Commonwealth
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