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No. 2 Mississippi State defeats Ole Miss for ninth time in a row

Mississippi State’s best player sat for a majority of the game on Sunday against Ole Miss and it never really mattered.

The Rebels struggled offensively and could do very little against the undefeated No. 2 Bulldogs in a 69-49 loss inside the Pavilion for their ninth straight loss against their in-state rival. It is the fifth straight loss and nine out of their last 11 games dating back to Dec. 17 at Oregon.

Coming off a game against No. 10 Tennessee where the Rebels had the game tied in the second half, Ole Miss showed very little resistance to what the Bulldogs wanted to do.

When the two teams met on Jan. 11 in Starkville, Ole Miss (11-10, 1-7 Southeastern Conference) failed to get out of the starting blocks and faced a 15-point deficit in the face early.

It was more of the same on Sunday with the Rebels missing 17 of their first 18 shots and scoring four points in the opening quarter.

“We got off to a real, real sluggish start,” Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. “We were not real tough to start the game and (Mississippi State) got after us. They were real physical and we backed down to start the game. Now as we settled in I thought we played good. But you can’t put yourself in a hole.”

Ole Miss finished the game 19-of-50 (38 percent) but it was still one of their worst offensive performances of the season.

Madinah Muhammad led the Rebels with 16 points and Promise Taylor added 10 as the only two Rebels in double figures. Taylor pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Alissa Alston found herself in early foul trouble once again and finished with five points, one assist in 16 minutes of action.

One major opportunity the Rebels failed to cash in on was the absence of Teaira McCowan on the floor for the majority of the game. The six-foot-seven junior center played only 17 minutes due to picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter and another early in the second half. McCowan finished with six points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

During her time on the bench Ole Miss could never cut into the consistent 20-plus point deficit throughout the game and Mississippi State (22-0, 8-0) proved they can be dominant with any lineup coach Vic Schaefer puts on the floor.

The Rebels outscored the Bulldogs 31-30 in the second half, leaving Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer unhappy with his team’s performance in regards to the larger picture.

“I thought our first half, obviously you allow somebody four points your pretty locked in and I thought we were locked in,” Schaefer said. “Contrary if you look at the second half you’ve got to pat (Ole Miss) on their back. That’s a prideful group and they played like it. I’m disappointed in my group. We can’t win a championship if that’s how we’re going to play and that’s our mindset.”

Victoria Vivians scored a game-high 25 points and was the only player in double figures for the Bulldogs.

For Ole Miss they now turn their attention to the second half of the conference slate, which begins on Thursday when they host Vanderbilt at 6 p.m.