Bulldogs Fall At No. 23 Ole Miss
The Bulldogs fell down 17 early but continued to battle, before falling 93-75 to the arch-rival Rebels in a Southeastern Conference men's basketball game played at Tad Smith Coliseum.
With the defeat, MSU fell to 7-14 overall and 2-7 in league play. Ole Miss improved to 18-4 and 7-2. Ole Miss made it back-to-back wins in the rivalry series on its home floor for the first time since 2008.
Ole Miss topped the 90 point mark for the seventh time this season. The duo of Marshall Henderson and Murphy Holloway proved too much for the Bulldogs defense. Henderson scored 31 points, while Holloway added a season-high 24 points.
The Rebels created separation early in the contest. After Gavin Ware scored on MSU's first possession, Ole Miss scored the game's next 19 points. The Bulldogs struggled on offense and did not reach double figures for the first 10 minutes of the contest.
"I am disappointed with this being a rivalry game, that we didn't come out with more fire in our belly," MSU head coach Rick Ray said. "We just got to have a better effort in the first half. We got destroyed in the paint in the first half."
Still, the Bulldogs righted the ship and remained competitive. The Maroon and White pulled within 28-18 with slightly less than five minutes left in the first half. However, the fouls were mounting.
The Bulldogs did not play Ware or Roquez Johnson in the final four minutes of the half thanks to three fouls on each player. Ole Miss took advantage with a 12-2 run and grabbed a 42-23 lead at halftime.
"We can't be competitive against a big, physical front line when we are playing small. We competed in the second and half and did a good job of trying to bring it back. However, we gave up 31 points to one player, 24 to another and 93 as a team. We really can't have that type of defensive effort."
In the second half, the Bulldogs hit 18 of 32 shots from the field and closed within 10 midway through the second half. However, Henderson rammed home a couple of critical 3-point baskets and that helped keep the Bulldogs at bay.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 28 of 65 shots from the field (43.1 percent), 5 of 23 shots from 3-point range (21.7 percent) and 14 of 20 shots from the foul line (70.0 percent). The Rebels hit 30 of 59 shots from the field (50.8 percent), 6 of 16 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 27 of 36 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent).
MSU held a 38-35 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and 17 turnovers, while the Rebels had 18 assists and 10 turnovers.
Craig Sword led MSU with 17 points, with all of those coming in the second half. Jalen Steele added 15 points, while Fred Thomas had 13 points. Trivante Bloodman had five assists, while Ware had a team-high seven rebounds.
Also in double figures for Ole Miss was Reginald Buckner with 12 points and Jarvis Summers with 11 points.
MSU remains on the road for a Saturday contest at second-ranked Florida. Game time is 4 p.m. CT from the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla. A regional telecast will be available on Fox Sports Net South.