Rebels get ready for road trip to Carolina

Jermey Parnell was still beaming the day after his double-double, which helped lead the Rebels to a 67-49 victory against Georgia Wednesday night.

But now it's on to South Carolina for a 6 p.m. (CST) game Saturday to be televised live on FSN, and Parnell says the Rebel big men, so important in the win over the Bulldogs, must step up again.

"Most of our scoring always comes from the guards," said Parnell, with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the game Wendesday night. "Our main goal (as big men) is to rebound. Our motto is to do what's best for the team and do what coach tells us and it will pay off."

Doing just that has put the Rebels in a two-way tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division at 7-6 alongside Mississippi State. The Rebels and Bulldogs split two games this season. Ole Miss is 18-9 overall, while State is 16-10. MSU plays at Georgia Saturday afternoon.

The Rebels played perhaps their most physical game of the season against Georgia, matching and then outdueling the big, strong, physical visitors from Athens.

Parnell, a junior forward, said that had been the goal since the Rebels returned from Arkansas with an 83-66 loss last Saturday.

"We worked so hard on defense the two days before (the Georgia contest)," Parnell said. "It carried over into the game. We were real physical in those practices, and we kept that up in the game. We have to do that again and again."

South Carolina, back to back defending NIT champs, is 13-13 this season and 3-10 in SEC play. At home in SEC action, USC is 2-4.

But in a strange twist on an old college tradition, the Gamecocks will not honor their three seniors Tre' Kelley, Brandon Wallace and Bryce Sheldon before their final home game Wednesday night when they host Vanderbilt. USC will honor the three departing players moments before they play Ole Miss.

The ceremony may be on the minds of the Carolina players and fans, but Ole Miss knows it has to simply go and play hard and, as the old saying goes, try to steal one on the road.

"We have to be mentally focused and ready at all times, whether we are at home or away," said junior center Dwayne Curtis as the Rebels have lost just once at home - to Kentucky - but have won just twice on an opponent's home floor all season - at South Alabama and at Auburn.

"We definitely want to finish strong, and that means winning on the road," Curtis said. "South Carolina is up next, and we know we will have to play well again to win."

The Gamecocks are coming off a 63-49 loss at Florida Wednesday night. Clarence Sanders said he wants to win Saturday night to keep those hopes for an SEC West crown alive.

"I've never won anything big like that," said Sanders, a senior guard and the Rebels' leading scorer. "I'm real motivated by that. I feel like we are getting close to that SEC (West) ring."

Sanders said he knows that with continued strong play from the inside guys like Parnell and Curtis and junior forward Kenny Williams, the Rebels' chances of hanging a banner increase. And Sanders said he's letting them know that.

"I grabbed Jermey in the locker room (after the Georgia game) and told him whatever it was that got into him to keep it up," Sanders said. "He makes us a whole lot better when he's on like that. He can be a monster out there."

*** Rebel hoops notes:

*** With 81 so far, Sanders needs only two 3-point baskets to tie the all-time single season 3-point mark of 83 currently set by Aaron Harper in 2002.

*** The Rebs' regular season finale, a Saturday, March 3 game against Auburn in Oxford, will tip off at either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. on Lincoln Financial Sports TV. The gametime should be announced Sunday.

*** A second bus is now being chartered for the Ole Miss-Alabama game on Wednesday night. The buses, which are organized by the Ole Miss Tip-Off Club and the Ole Miss Student Section, will depart the coliseum parking lot at 3 p.m. and return immediately after the game.

Price for the trip is $35, which includes a ticket to the game, seat on the bus and boxed dinner. RSVPs must be made by Friday at noon by calling 662-234-6044 and asking for Judy Conner. Fees must also be paid by that time to Conner at University Florist in the Oxford East Shopping Center on University Avenue in Oxford.

OM Spirit Top Stories