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Rebounding dooms Ole Miss in loss to Mississippi State

OXFORD – Late game offensive struggles and an afternoon of getting pulverized on the glass led to Ole Miss’ demise in round two of the cross-state rivalry. Despite leading the Bulldogs by four at the half, Ole Miss would lose to No. 22 Mississippi State 81-75 on Saturday.

“They out-toughed us from the start,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “I’m trying to coach effort in a rivalry game in front of a sold-out arena and that’s inexcusable. That’s what I was trying to do. We did some good things. We had a chance to win the game, but eventually toughness won out.”

The first half of play was characterized by two big runs, one on either side. Trailing 15-8 early, a Breein Tyree steal and transition three sparked a 13-0 Ole Miss run mid-way through the half, bringing the Rebel lead to 21-15. It would be subsequently followed by a 12-2 Bulldog run. The game would go to half relatively even, Rebels leading 43-39.

The teams traded buckets throughout the second half. The Bulldogs were able to gain control of the game with a 9-0 run over a two-and-a-half-minute stretch midway through the half, but Ole Miss would battle back. Trailing the majority of the final ten minutes, a Tyree three with 3:51 to play would tie the game at 73. Ole Miss would only score two more points in the game, losing 81-75.

Ole Miss simply couldn’t rebound in this game, particularly on the defensive end. They lost the rebounding battle to Mississippi State by 12. However, more critically, they surrendered 15 offensive rebounds leading to 19 Bulldog points.

“Our centers, Bruce (Stevens) and Dom (Olejniczak), played 40 minutes combined with no defensive rebounds. That’s almost impossible,” Davis said.

Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon was a force offensively in this one. He hit a handful of very well contested three-pointers, pacing the Bulldogs in scoring with 27 points. Reggie Perry would chip in 21 points and 11 rebounds.

In a weirdly similar circumstance to the start of the January game in Starkville, Breein Tyree would leave this game one minute into the game after a collision with a Mississippi State player. Like the first meeting, he would come back shortly after. Four Rebels would score in double figures, but it was actually a healthy Tyree leading the way with 25 points.

The loss marks an abysmal stretch for Ole Miss, dropping four straight and five of the last six games. They will return to the court Wednesday night with another home game against 8-11 Texas A&M.

“We’ve lost to some really good teams. It’s just where we are. There’s no spiral here. Spiraling is when a team won’t practice,” Davis said. “We got to go back in practice and play a good (Texas) A&M team who’s talent level is just like ours… we just have to control what we can control.”