Ole Miss-Western Carolina at Tad Pad tonight

Ole Miss-Western Carolina gamenotes for today's 7 p.m. game in Oxford.

Ole Miss (9-3) vs. Western Carolina (7-8)

January 3, 2006 • 7 p.m. CT

Oxford, Miss. • C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum (8,700)



Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum, play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, color analyst, Richard Cross, analyst)

SIRIUS Satellite Radio: Channel 126

Gametracker: www.OleMissSports.com

REBELS CLOSE OUT NON-CONFERENCE SLATE: Ole Miss wraps up its seven-game homestand and the non-conference portion of its schedule Tuesday against Western Carolina. The Rebels are 5-1 on the home stretch after Friday's 82-69 victory over Alcorn State. Four of the five starters scored in double-figures, including sophomore center Dwayne Curtis with a career-high 25 points with 9 rebounds and 2 steals. Juniors Todd Abernethy and Bam Doyne each dropped in 12 points, and sophomore Jermey Parnell posted a career-best 11. Freshman forward Mike Smith added 9 points and a game-high 11 boards off the bench. Winners in five of the last six, Ole Miss is off its best start since the 2002-03 squad opened at 9-3.

BARNES IN EIGHTH SEASON AS REBEL MENTOR: Rod Barnes is in his eighth season at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program and is nine victories away from reaching B.L. "Country" Graham's school record for coaching wins (145). The 2001 Naismith and CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year, Barnes has a 136-96 record. Barnes' 136 coaching victories in his first 232 games is the most of any Ole Miss coach over that span and is the second-most wins in school history. His .586 winning percentage is the highest of any Rebel coach of eight years or more. In 2000-01, Barnes was the SEC Coach of the Year, and guided Ole Miss to a school-record 27 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 an All-American honorable mention his senior season. He is the only person in SEC history to earn both All-SEC and SEC Coach of the Year honors.

SCOUTING THE CATAMOUNTS: A 26-year coaching veteran, Larry Hunter is in his first season heading the Western Carolina program and returns eight letterwinners and four starters from last year's 8-22 squad. The Catamounts have started 7-8 and coming off a 89-65 road loss at Georgia on Saturday. Sophomore guard Antonio Russell is leading the Catamounts at 15.1 points per game. After posting 14.6 points and 8.0 boards in 2004-05, senior center David Berghoefer is turning in 10.8 and 5.5 this year. Senior swingman Corey Muirhead has provided some spark off the bench at 10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and a team-high 21 steals. WCU has already topped the 100 plateau in 3-pointers this season and has several threats from behind the arc in Russell (.407 and 22 3s), Muirhead (.500 and 13 3s), junior guard Kyle Greathouse (.422 and 27 3s) and sophomore guard Eric Wilson (.421 and 16 3s).

OLE MISS-WCU SERIES: Tuesday's game will mark the first meeting between the Rebels and Catamounts. Ole Miss is 11-7 all-time against current members of the Southern Conference.

THREE IS THE KEY: Tuesday's matchup will feature the strong 3-point attack of WCU against Ole Miss' stiff perimeter defense. The Catamounts rank second in the SoCon from behind the arc at 38.8 percent, while the Rebels are fourth in the SEC defending the trey, holding the opposition to a 33.7 clip. Ole Miss has limited five opponents under 30 percent. WCU connected on 14-of-26 (.538) against UNC-Asheville and 13-of-20 (.650) vs. The Citadel.

D.C. PRESIDES OVER REBEL CHARGE: In his first season in the Red and Blue, Dwayne Curtis has been a force for the Rebels this year and is coming off consecutive 20-point performances. The 6-foot-8, 290-pound center lit up Southeastern Louisiana for 23 points and 9 rebounds. He followed up with a career-high 25 points with 9 rebounds and 2 steals against Alcorn State on Friday. For the season, Curtis has turned in eight games scoring in double-figures with four 20-point outings. He has posted two double-doubles, including 18 points and 12 rebounds against South Carolina State. The Chicago native lit up Centenary for 21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals and returned home to Chicago to hang 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocked shots on UIC. He leads Ole Miss in scoring (13.3), rebounding (7.2), steals (1.4) and blocks (0.9). He is third in assists (2.1).

VIVA LA BAM: After two years in a lesser role, Bam Doyne has moved into the forefront as a key cog in the Rebel attack this season. The junior swingman is one of the club's top defenders but is also punching in the offense. Doyne has notched double-figures six times and topped Ole Miss in scoring in three games. He recorded a new scoring career high for the third instance this season with his 24-point performance against Arkansas State, in which he notched 6 rebounds, 4 assists and drilled 4-of-4 free throws in the final 41 seconds. He followed up that game with another clutch performance against Southeastern Louisiana, scoring 11 of his 15 points as part of the Rebels' game-winning, second-half rally. Doyne is averaging 17.0 points in his last three games. Despite a 1.0 career rebounding average, the Little Rock native is grabbing 4.4 boards this year, and his 2.6 assists per game is second on the team.

PLAYER NOTES • Junior guard Todd Abernethy is shooting 44.7 percent (21-of-47) from behind the arc this year. The Carmel, Ind., native drilled 4-of-6 against Centenary and connected on 3-of-4 vs. Nicholls and Southern Utah.

• After starting his first six career games, freshman forward Trey Hampton has come off the bench the last six. Hampton's first game as a reserve turned out to be his best yet. The Hoover, Ala., native dropped in a career-high 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting against Saint Louis, including 2-for-2 in 3-pointers. He followed up with an 8-point showing against No. 5 Memphis.

• Freshman forward Xavier Hansbro ranks fourth among SEC freshman in 3-point percentage at .375 (12-of-32). Hanbro drilled 4-of-6 treys, including 3 in the final 3:44, for 12 points in his Rebel debut against Southern Utah.

• Sophomore Jermey Parnell posted his third career double-figure game against Alcorn State with a career-high 11 points, hitting 2-of-2 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws. After shooting 45.2 percent from the free throw line as a freshman, Parnell is an impressive 22-for-25 (.880) from this stripe this year.

• Making only his second start in the Red and Blue, junior guard Clarence Sanders had his best game as a Rebel against Arkansas State with 20 points, 4 3-pointers and 5 assists. It was the third high-scoring output of the year for the Phenix City, Ala., native, as he hung 16 on Centenary and 17 at UIC.

• Sophomore guard Brian Smith hit 2 clutch 3-pointers in the final 3:33 to clinch the Rebel win over Southeastern Louisiana. For the second straight game, Smith matched his career-high of 8 points and was 2-for-2 from behind the arc.

• Freshman forward Mike Smith turned in his finest game at Ole Miss against Alcorn State. The Jacksonville, Ark., native posted career-bests of 9 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, including 5 offensive boards. Smith is averaging 20.3 minutes over the last three games and notched 7 points and 3 rebounds vs. Arkansas State.

CURTIS AMONG SEC LEADERS: In his first season as a Rebel, sophomore center Dwayne Curtis is ranking among the SEC leaders in several categories. Here is how the transfer from Auburn stacks up in the league: Scoring: 15th (13.3); Rebounding: 7th (7.2); Field goal percentage: 2nd (.621); Offensive rebounds: 5th (3.08)

"O"-RRIVAL: The Ole Miss offense has shown some major signs of improvement at the season's start. The Rebels are currently averaging 71.1 points per game, which is 7.3 higher than last year's team scoring clip and would be the highest since posting 72.0 in 2001-02. Ole Miss has also raised its field goal percentage from 44.8 a year ago to 46.4. The Rebels topped the 100-point plateau against Centenary, 107-67, for the first time since a 105-71 victory over Alabama in 2001 and only the second time since 1998. The Rebels have shot 50 percent or better in five games and in the 60s twice, including a 60.9 clip against Arkansas State.

DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: Throughout his Rebel tenure, defense has become a trademark of Rod Barnes' squads, and this year is no different. Ole Miss limited Nicholls to 43 points, making the third time this season and 30th instance in Barnes' eight years at the helm that the opposition was contained below 50. The Rebels also held the Colonels to 32.7 percent shooting in registering the third opponent of the year to be held in the 30s from the field. Louisiana-Monroe was limited to 31.1 percent shooting and 1-of-19 from 3-point range. Ole Miss held Memphis 17 points below their scoring average. The Rebels currently rank fourth in the SEC in 3-point percentage defense (.337). Ole Miss is also forcing 16.8 turnovers per game. The Rebels pressured South Carolina State into 25 turnovers, Centenary into 23 and Nicholls into 21. Ole Miss totaled 13 steals against Arkansas State.

TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Since the 1993-94 season, the Rebels have posted a 121-41 record (.747 winning percentage) versus non-conference opponents. Non-conference foes have found Ole Miss especially tough under head coach Rod Barnes (1998-99 through 2005-06), as the Rebels have an impressive 86-24 mark (.782 winning percentage) against out-of-conference teams. Ole Miss has been dominant against non-SEC clubs at home. The Dec. 10 loss to No. 5 Memphis was only the Rebels' fifth non-conference home loss since 1995.

BULKING UP: The new big bodies in the Rebel lineup have paid some dividends in the early season. After being outrebounded a year ago, Ole Miss enjoys a rebounding edge this year and has outrebounded 8-of-12 opponents. The Rebels are also averaging 3.9 blocked shots per game, a considerable increase from last year's 2.0 average.

"TAD PAD" SWEET "TAD PAD": The "Tad Pad" has proven to be one of the toughest arenas in the nation for opposing teams to pay. With a 7-1 mark this year, Ole Miss has won 119 of its last 146 games (.815 winning percentage) at home, including homecourt winning streaks of 29, 20 and 15 games. The Rebels have an all-time record of 361-174 (.675 winning percentage) at C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in the 1965-66 season. In head coach Rod Barnes' era, the Rebels have a home record of 91-26 (.778 winning percentage), including a 35-21 homecourt record against SEC foes (.625 winning percentage).

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