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Olstad: Rebels Could Have a Shot in SEC Tournament After Beating Bulldogs

Photo by Danny Dickey
Photo by Danny Dickey

The time has come for Oxford to say farewell to Rebel seniors Martavious Newby, Tomasz Gielo, Anthony Perez, and Stefan Moody. The four finished their final home game in winning fashion, defeating rival Mississippi State 86-78 on senior night.

Seniors Tomasz Gielo and Stefan Moody got the crowd excited early. Gielo made the second Ole Miss basket with a three-pointer, then Stefan Moody scored three consecutive baskets from behind the arc.

The series of four three-pointers was followed by a string of Ole Miss turnovers, bringing Mississippi State back into the game.

The contest overall was filled with sequences of sloppy play. The Bulldogs committed 18 turnovers and the Rebels didn’t do much better, giving up 15 turnovers of their own. Some of Mississippi State turnovers resulted from the Rebel’s defensive switches, a tactic Ole Miss has used the entire season to keep teams off balance offensively.

Moody contributed to over half of the Ole Miss turnovers, but Coach Andy Kennedy doesn’t hold much of a grudge, saying “Moody had eight turnovers for the game because he was trying to make every play, he had mental fatigue because he was asked to do so much with the ball.”

Besides the turnovers, Moody really did do everything for the Ole Miss victory. Stefan finished his last home game poetically with a career high 43 points, which was half of the entire team’s 86 points for the night. He went 11-24 from the field, 6-12 from the three-point line, and 15-18 from the free-throw line.

The Bulldogs relied on the performance of one player as well. Senior Forward Gavin Ware also had a career high of 28 points for the Bulldogs and gave Mississippi State a presence in the paint the entire night. The Rebels didn’t have an answer for 6’9″ Starkville native, and the Bulldogs immediately returned to feeding Ware in the post coming out of halftime losing 44-32.

With four minutes left to play and victory in sight, the Ole Miss crowd began to honor the seniors with cheers as Stefan Moody dribbled the ball up court. The four seniors stayed in the game until the final whistle, finishing their final home game in front of a passionate crowd who will miss the four seniors next year.

“We have had great support from fans to help seniors leave Ole Miss on a positive note,” Andy Kennedy said.

A Look Ahead:

Ole Miss faces the Volunteers of Tennessee this Saturday, March 5 at the Thompson-Boiling Arena in Knoxville. The game will begin at 11:00 a.m. CT and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.

The Rebels will enter the SEC tournament to play their first game against a Tennessee team that is hard to judge. Tennessee has a 13-17 record and is 6-11 in the SEC, but despite a poor SEC record, the Volunteers have defeated the better half of the SEC, with wins against Kentucky, South Carolina, and LSU.

The Rebels must prepare for everything entering the SEC tournament if they still want a chance to enter the March Madness Tournament. After the loss to Georgia, the odds of getting a spot for March Madness are not in the Rebels favor, but Head Coach Andy Kennedy still has hope and believes the Rebels can make a run.

If Ole Miss can get hot and stay hot throughout the SEC tournament, making a run for a chance to play in NCAA Tournament would make Ole Miss a sixth seed in the SEC and let them control their own destiny. It won’t be an easy task, but after a 43-point game by Moody, it looks like anything is possible.


Jack Olstad is a journalism student at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at jtolstad@go.olemiss.edu.

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Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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