By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss men’s basketball team heads down to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the Hump on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. an can be seen on ESPNU.
Ole Miss (9-8, 1-4 SEC) is coming off a 78-53 loss to Missouri on Tuesday night. The Rebels were led by Daeshun Ruffin with 12 points while Nysier Brooks add 8 points and 10 boards.
The Tigers shot an Ole Miss opponent season-high 62.7 percent overall and 57.1 percent from three.
Mississippi State stands at 12-5 overall and 3-2 in SEC play, going 2-1 since falling to the Rebels in Oxford on Jan. 8. Included in that stretch is an upset of No. 24 Alabama in Starkville on Jan. 15, with the Bulldogs taking down the Tide, 78-76, behind 24 points from Iverson Molinar. Aside from its loss to Ole Miss and Florida on Jan. 19, MSU’s lone blemishes on the season come against Louisville in The Bahamas on Nov. 25(72-58), vs. Minnesota in Starkville on Dec. 5 (81-76) and against Colorado State on Dec. 11 at the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Fort Worth (66-63). Currently, MSU owns a NET rating of 52 with a 1-2 record vs. Quad 1, a 1-1 record against Quad 2, and a 10-2 combined record against Quads 3 and 4.
The Bulldogs use a tenacious effort on the glass, a careful but effective defense and a lights-out shooting offense to excellent effect. MSU ranks second in the SEC and eighth nationally at its rebounding margin of +9.4, helped greatly by not letting its opponents see many missed shots as the Bulldogs also rank second in the SEC and 32nd in the NCAA at a 47.6 percent shooting percentage on the season. The Bulldogs have held five opponents to 60 points or fewer and four to 50 or fewer.
Mississippi State is led by Iverson Molinar, who averages 17.6 points (No. 3 SEC), 3.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists (No. 7 SEC) and owns the SEC’s second-best assist-turnover rate (2.5) and free throw percentage (.875).
Earlier this month Ole Miss defeated the Bulldogs 82-72 in the SJB Pavilion. The Rebels and the Bulldogs are meeting for the 266th time on the hardwood. State holds a 146-119 series lead, but the Rebels have won 12 of the past 17 matchups, the best streak against the Bulldogs since winning 11 of 14 from 1929-33.
Ole Miss holds an 86-45 advantage in Oxford, winning nine of the past 11 at home that includes a 5-2 mark in SJB Pavilion (opened 2016). The away team was the victor in both meetings in 2021, with the Rebels emerging 64-46 in Starkville on Jan. 19, and the Bulldogs winning 66-56 in Oxford on Feb. 20. The Rebels hold a 6-4 advantage in the previous 10 meetings, and the average margin of victory for the winner in that span has been by 12.6 points per game.