Rebels want to celebrate at Tad Pad
March 3, 2001
By Richard Dark
The Meridian Star
OXFORD Hoping to end with a flourish.
That describes the mindset of the Ole Miss Rebels, who will be sending out its most successful senior class in the history of the basketball program when they prepare to knock heads with the Alabama Crimson Tide today at 3 p.m., at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The Rebels' (22-6, 10-5 in the Southeastern Conference) final home game of the year will be televised on Jefferson Pilot Sports and it is one that will be looked at with great interest by other teams in the Western Division.
Rod Barnes' club, ranked No. 14 in The Associated Press poll and No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, was riding high with a six-game winning streak until the surprising 78-77 overtime loss in Baton Rouge to the LSU Tigers on Wednesday night.
But some of luster has been taken off this one, as the Tide (20-8, 8-7) got sidetracked in its final home game of the year with a three-point loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
It's tournament time. People are playing for pride and positioning and seeding,'' Barnes said.
A win by Mark Gottfried's crew, coupled with an Arkansas win over Georgia, would give the Hogs a share of the Western Division crown. But even if Ole Miss and Arkansas tie for the SEC Western Division title, the Rebels would be the top seed by virtue of sweeping the season series.
Earlier this year, Alabama defeated Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa, 82-63. Last season, the teams split their two meetings with Alabama winning in Tuscaloosa, 96-67, and Ole Miss winning in Oxford, 63-59.
The win represented the third straight by the Rebs at the Tad Pad.
Ole Miss center Rahim Lockhart leads the Rebels with 12.9 points per game and 8.3 rebounds. He was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Chevrolet District 6 First team Friday.
The Crimson Tide comes in ranked No. 20 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the ESPN/USA poll. They are led by Rod Grizzard, a candidate for SEC Player of the Year. He joins four Alabama players averaging in double figures at 17.4 points per game.
The others are Erwin Dudley (14.1 ppg), Terrance Meade (10.8) and Gerald Wallace (10.1).
Dudley leads the team and SEC in rebounding with a 9.5 average.
Travis Stinnett is the squad's top three-point threat, hitting 46 percent from the arc. Alabama is shooting 43.1 percent from the field, 32.5 percent from the three-point line, and 70 percent from the charity stripe.
The Crimson Tide is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 7.2 boards per game (42.5-35.3).
The Senior Day festivities will kick off approximately 30 minutes before game time Saturday.
The 2001 seniors are Lockhart, Jason Flanigan, John Engstrom and Jason Holmes.
These four have the unique distinction of having been on teams that have averaged 20 wins or more for the past four years.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.