Rebels look to halt first losing streak of the season

Posted on Feb 6 2013 - 7:00am by Lacey Russell

After suffering two losses in a row for the first time all season, Ole Miss basketball welcomes in-state foe Mississippi State for a midweek rivalry looking to get back in the win column. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on CSS.

Phillip Waller | The Daily MississippianMarshall Henderson goes up for a shot.

Ole Miss, coming off back-to-back losses for the first time this season, will look to get back to winning Wednesday night as Mississippi State comes to Oxford.

“We won so many in a row, losing hurts too bad to just lay down and let one turn into two, two turn into three,” senior forward Murphy Holloway said following the Rebels’ first SEC loss to Kentucky.

Ole Miss (17-4, 6-2 SEC) enters the game toward the top of the SEC. Florida leads the league with the Rebels, Kentucky, Alabama and Missouri all within arm’s length of each other.

Mississippi State (7-13, 2-6 SEC) comes in as a bottom-four team of the SEC, and after winning their first two conference games, the Bulldogs have dropped six in a row. In their latest game, Mississippi State blew an 18-point lead and lost by one at home to LSU.

Despite their struggles, head coach Andy Kennedy said he knows his team still has to bring it to knock off Mississippi State and end his team’s losing streak.

“We’re on a two-game losing streak, and whether it’s the Mississippi State Bulldogs or the Los Angeles Lakers that come in here on Wednesday, we’ve got to stop it,” Kennedy said.

Ole Miss suffered its worst loss of the season over the weekend as the now second-ranked Florida Gators got a 14-point win.

It was Florida’s smallest margin of victory in SEC play. However, with limited frontcourt depth, Holloway and senior forward Reggie Buckner had to play less aggressively so as not to pick up fouls.

“(Holloway) played the entire game and didn’t pick up a foul, which I’m not sure is a good thing,” Kennedy said. “It speaks to being too conscious about not fouling.”

Buckner committed three fouls but only scored eight points and grabbed just four rebounds.

Ole Miss may get a boost, as senior guard Nick Williams may return. Kennedy said he’s probable for Wednesday. Williams tore his plantar fasciitis and was in a cast until Monday.

“Nick’s a guy we all take for granted,” Kennedy said.

“I know I do at times. I’ve affectionately referred to him many times as a utility infielder. Nick will be able to give us more minutes from an experienced guy.

“We certainly need Nick’s leadership. Nick is our stabilizer. He’s the coach on the floor.”

Mississippi State is led offensively by freshman guard Fred Thomas, who averages 10.5 points per game.

The Bulldogs have six players averaging eight points per game. Their offensive has been struggling as they are last in the SEC in field goal percentage and points per possession. Their assist to turnover ratio of .55 is also last in the conference and the NCAA.

This will be the 246th match on the court between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, making it the most played rivalry in the SEC.

With 285 career blocks, Buckner has tied Robert Horry of Alabama for sixth on the SEC all-time block list. The Memphis native needs 34 more blocks this season to move into fifth place in the conference record books.

The game will begin at 8 p.m. from Tad Smith Coliseum and will be televised on CSS.

For continuing coverage of Ole Miss men’s basketball, follow @Tyler_RSR and @thedm_sports on Twitter.