After a six-game losing streak and the resignation of head coach Andy Kennedy, the Rebels look to bounce back with a trip to Starkville on Saturday. Sitting at 11-15, the Rebels are in damage-control mode and have to win out to salvage a .500 record. As for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs are 18-7 for the season and are coming off of a loss at Missouri.
The earlier matchup this year in Oxford featured a 64-58 Rebels win. Along with Deandre Burnett’s 21 points and Breein Tyree’s 16 points, the Rebels were able to hold Mississippi State to 16 points below their national average. With the Bulldogs sitting last in the SEC in 3-point percentage, this rematch could once again come down to which defense shows up.
If the Rebels are going to sweep Mississippi State this year, it will come down to a strong defensive performance – specifically, allowing fewer than 70 points. In games in which they have allowed fewer than 70 points, the Rebels are 7-0 for the season. On the other hand, they are 4-15 in games in which they allow more than 70 points.
Furthermore, the Bulldogs find themselves 5-6 in games where they score fewer than 70 and 13-1 in gam..6es where they eclipse the 70-point figure. In the first matchup between the two rivals, the Rebels featured their best defensive performance of the year. For another win, Kennedy and the Rebels will have to do much of the same.
The Rebels’ star duo of Burnett and Terence Davis is sure to draw State’s attention Saturday night. Burnett leads Ole Miss in points per game (14.8ppg), assists per game (4.2apg) and 3-point percentage (38.3%). He has proven his worth as a leader of this team and his excellent speed and on-ball movement will prove vital to the Rebels’ hopes for a win.
Davis has been the Rebels’ most consistent player this season and continues to show flashes of his NBA potential. Despite a slight fall-off from last season’s statlines, Davis leads the team in field-goal percentage at 40.5%. With the game expected to remain close into the second half, expect the Rebels to rely on Davis as the clock winds down.
For Mississippi State, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Aric Holman’s performances will be deciding factors. Weatherspoon leads the Bulldogs in points and assists per game this season, and is the most valuable player within State’s offensive scheme. However, forward Holman might be the most dangerous player on the Bulldogs’ squad. Despite only averaging 11.4 points per game, Holman leads MSU in 3-point percentage and rebounds per game. With an astounding 44.4 3-point percentage, the Rebels will have to keep Holman from contesting open-threes.
At the end of the day, in a season that the Rebels will soon hope to forget, there is still business to take care of. With one win already in the books against the Bulldogs, Ole Miss will need to rely on its defense to complete the sweep in Starkville.
The Bulldogs are hoping to sneak into the March Madness conversation but the Rebels would love to spoil that party. Again.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Starkville, MS.