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UM's Barnes looks ahead to Kentucky

By Staff
Jan. 13, 2002
OXFORD Just minutes after his team had polished of an important Southeastern Conference win over arch-rival Mississippi State, Ole Miss basketball coach Rod Barnes had his mind elsewhere.
While Barnes knows that his 13-3 Rebels will have their hands full with the Wildcats of UK, he says he doesn't think his team will be afraid.
For sure, he's not.
Senior point guard Jason Harrison is the only Rebel who has ever played in Rupp.
While Ole Miss did win the game against State on Saturday, it was not something that will be shown over and over again on ESPN Classic.
But Barnes said he was not real concerned about that.
However, Barnes also knows that his club will have to continue to improve to be competitive in the SEC West.
Although the Wildcats have lost two SEC games already and had to beat South Carolina in the closing seconds on Saturday to move to 1-2 in league play, Barnes said UK will still be tough to beat. Especially in Rupp.
The Wildcats beat the Gamecocks 51-50. UK opened SEC play with a 74-69 overtime loss at MSU, then followed that up with an 88-84 loss to Georgia in Rupp Arena.
While Kentucky does cause problems for Barnes' Rebels, he said that is not where his focus is.
History is certainly in Kentucky's favor going into Tuesday night's ESPN game. Especially when it comes to playing at Rupp.
The Wildcats lead the overall series 87-11 and have won 41-of-43 games played in Lexington. The last time Ole Miss won at Rupp Arena was in 1998 by the score of 73-64.
The only other Ole Miss win at Kentucky was in the 1926-27 win with the Rebels coming out on top 37-17.
After Tuesday's battle with the Wildcats, the Rebels then must face Arkansas in Fayetteville, a tough place to play. But, Ole Miss has won three of the last five times they have played in Bud Walton Arena.
Then comes three straight home games. LSU comes in on Jan. 23, while South Carolina visits the Tad Pad on Jan. 26, followed by Vanderbilt on Jan. 30.
In the SEC, you have to defend your home court and then sneak a couple on the road.
So far Ole Miss has taken care of business at home, so now its time to steal one of those road wins. If the Rebels can split with UK and Arkansas it will give Ole Miss a big jump on its bid to return to the NCAA Tournament.
That is exactly what Barnes had on his mind. But right now, he just wants to get a little rest.
Kentucky will keep, at least until Tuesday night.