The Ole Miss Rebels had some step-up guys tonight in an 85-78 win against Arkansas State.
Junior point guard Todd Abernethy was a bit under the weather, started, played 25 minutes, but had only six points. So sophomore Brian Smith came in and scored a UM career-high eight points with a couple assists in 15 minutes.
In the contest freshman forward Mike Smith tied his career high with seven points. He had seven against Centenary earlier this season.
Junior guard Clarence Sanders had 20 points, much of it early, against the Indians, surpassing his 17 points against Centenary and 16 points against Illinois-Chicago, both this season.
When Sanders cooled off the last half of the last half, guard Bam Doyne took up right where Sanders left off. The junior surpassed his career high of 16 points set against Louisiana-Monroe a couple of weeks ago with 24 points against the Indians.
"We're just trying to win, and that's all," said Doyne when asked about his personal best scoring effort. "We're getting better and better."
Sanders said the Rebels had a lot to prove after the loss to Memphis.
"After the Memphis game, I just said that's it. No more jitters for me," said Sanders. "I just decided to quit being scared of anything and went out and played. It seemed to work for me."
Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes said he was pleased to notch another win in a tough stretch for his squad.
"We're 40 minutes away from being 8-3," said Barnes, whose team hosts Southeastern Louisiana Wednesday night. "That's what I told the guys in the locker room after this one. It's been a tough stretch with five games in nine days. We have one more game left, and then I can get them back (for practice)."
Actually there will be a short Christmas break and then he will get them back next week - for practice - before hosting Alcorn State on Dec. 30.
Barnes was most pleased with how his troops bounced back from a 23-point setback at the hands of Memphis on Saturday.
"Early on tonight it looked like we were unsure," Barnes said. "I wasn't sure at that point how we'd bounce back from Memphis. But I appreciate these guys for what they've done and how they've responded.
"We had a tough loss to New Mexico and bounced back against South Carolina State," he continued. "We had a tough loss to UIC, and we bounced back against Saint Louis with probably our best game so far. So tonight I think we saw more of what this team is made of. I was pleased."
Ole Miss led 38-31 at halftime, but the Indians quickly scored the first six points of the second half to cut the margin to 38-37. An inbounds play under the Rebels' basket from Doyne to Sanders for a layup got something started for the Rebels, who led 40-37 and basically moved on from there.
ASU hung around but the gap continued to widen. The lead was 15 points at 72-57 with 3:36 to go.
Ole Miss shot 61 percent (28-46) from the floor. From 3-point range the Rebels were 10-23 (44 percent) and from the free throw line 19-30 (63 percent).
ASU shot well themselves (55 percent), going 31-56. From 3-point land the Indians were 8-15 (53 percent), and from the line 8-13 (62 percent).
Leading the Indians, now 4-7 on the year, was Jim Jones with a career-high himself of 25 points.
Senior forward Londrick Nolen was suspended for the contest. Barnes would not say when Nolen would return.
Rebels get past Arkansas State 85-78
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