In heartbreaking fashion, No. 22 Mississippi State edged out Ole Miss, now 14-7 (4-4), in an 81-75 battle to split the season series. This game marks the fourth-straight loss for Ole Miss, who has suddenly found itself sliding out of the race for the top of the SEC by dropping four of the last five contests.
After a slow start, the Rebels found their shooting stroke midway through the first half, going on a 13-0 run after a timeout that provided much needed motivation, enabling them to stretch their lead to 21-15.
“I had to call timeouts early trying to coach effort in a rivalry game in front of a sold-out arena,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “That’s inexcusable.”
The run came via the three ball, with Breein Tyree connecting on two attempts from beyond the arc and Devontae Shuler drilling one. Ole Miss would head into the locker room holding a 43-39 lead behind a strong first half from Devontae Shuler, who had 14 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor at the break, including all three of his three-point attempts.
With neither team pulling away in the second half, the game went right down to the wire. Reggie Perry, who entered the game with just one made-three-pointer all year, drilled a clutch three with 3 1/2 minutes remaining to break a 73-73 tie. The Rebels struggled to find offense late in the game, scoring only two points in the final three minutes.
Four Rebels finished in double figures. Breein Tyree paced Ole Miss with 25 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including knocking down 5 of 7 from deep. Terence Davis followed up with 15 while Devontae Shuler contributed 14, all in the first half, and Bruce Stevens dropped 13 of his own.
The quartet of Devontae Shuler, Terence Davis, Breein Tyree and Bruce Stevens accounted for 67 of Ole Miss’s 75 points. The freshmen Blake Hinson and KJ Buffen rounded out the scoring for the Rebels, with Hinson finishing with 7 points and Buffen, who was awarded his first start of the season, scoring 1 point.
Rebounding told the story on Saturday, with the Bulldogs dominating the glass 40-28 over Ole Miss. These extra possessions led to 19 second-chance points for Mississippi State.
“Both of our centers, Bruce (Stevens) and Dom (Olejniczak) played 40 minutes combined — no defensive rebounds,” a frustrated Kermit Davis said.
Senior Quinndary Weatherspoon led the way for Mississippi State, finishing with 27 points on 7-of-13 shooting. In addition, Reggie Perry was “a man among boys,” according to Kermit Davis. Perry, a freshman, scored a career-high 21 points in the win for the Bulldogs.
The schedule lets up for a bit for Ole Miss this week. The Rebels will kick things off Wednesday at 6 p.m. in The Pavilion against a struggling Texas A&M squad which holds an unimpressive 8-12 (1-7) record. The Rebels will finish the week with a matchup on the road against Georgia, a team that also sits in the basement of the SEC at 10-11 (1-7).