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Moody, Gielo lead Rebels past Georgia St.

One of the new faces for Ole Miss was producing until he wasn’t available anymore. But a familiar one eventually got it going at his new position to pick up the slack.

Stefan Moody finished with a team-high 21-points, Tomasz Gielo added 13, and the Rebels held off Georgia State for a 68-59 win at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum on Wednesday.

Moody, the Southeastern Conference’s second-leading scorer, had just seven points at halftime but scored 14 of the Rebels’ last 19 points to finish in double figures for the sixth straight game to start the season. Gielo, a graduate transfer from Liberty, carried Ole Miss (4-2) early with 11 of his points in the first half before fouling out late.

“It definitely feels good,” said Gielo, who shot just 29.6 percent from the floor in his first five games in an Ole Miss uniform. “It gives you a boost of confidence for the upcoming games.”

But the Rebels couldn’t breathe easy until the final seconds against the Panthers (2-1), one of the favorites in the Sun Belt Conference coming off of last year’s run to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia State got within 58-56 with 2:18 left on a pair of free throws from Jeremy Hollowell, who finished with a game-high 23 points. But the Rebels answered with six straight points on their next three possessions with Moody corralling a loose ball between the circles on the final one and driving in for a dunk to make it an eight-point lead in the final minute that Georgia State never threatened again.

Moving over

Moody, a natural shooting guard, started his third straight game at the point, a move head coach Andy Kennedy said he decided to make after Ole Miss’ loss to George Mason in its opening game of last week’s Gildan Charleston Classic with Sam Finley struggling and J.T. Escobar battling back spasms. The senior went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line and dished out five assists against just two turnovers.

Moody had more turnovers (6) than assists (4) in the Rebels’ final Classic game against Seton Hall on Sunday, but Kennedy said he’s liked what he’s seen from his senior there in the other two starts and will keep him at the point for now.

“There’s going to be times where we’ll be able to move him off the ball, but right now we’re committed to him running our team,” Kennedy said.

Moody (6 of 13) and Gielo (4 of 7) combined to shoot 50 percent from the floor to help Ole Miss stay ahead for all but 40 seconds despite some hesitation and sloppy ball-handling against Georgia State’s matchup zone. The Rebels committed a season-high 15 turnovers, allowing Georgia State to stay close throughout despite shooting 48 percent from the field as a team and nearly doubling the Panthers up on the glass (39-20).

“I just think we look passive. We’re not attacking enough,” Kennedy said. “Maybe it’s because, again, we revamped after we lost to George Mason and I moved Moody primarily to the (point). He’s never done it in his life, so there’s going to be a little bit of a growth process.”

Gielo pulled down a season-high six rebounds while Sebastian Saiz grabbed eight boards. Saiz had just seven points, finishing with that many or less in three of his last four games after starting the season with consecutive double-doubles.

Ole Miss will go back on the road Saturday to take on Bradley. Tip is set for 1 p.m.