January 19, 2012 12:03:00 AM
OXFORD -- What we learned?
It's still incredibly difficult to win Southeastern Conference road basketball games. At least for Mississippi State.
For the first time in four years, the 18th-ranked Bulldogs walked away from Tad Smith Coliseum with a sour look on their face after facing the University of Mississippi.
The Rebels (12-6, 2-2 in SEC play) were content to allow point guard Jarvis Summers, who led the team by making 38.6 percent of his long-range attempts coming into Wednesday night, fire away from long distance as the freshman from Jackson finished with 12 points - halfof which coming from the three-point shot.
Taking away Summers' three-point shooting numbers, Ole Miss was 24.8 percent from long range (59-of-237) but got two players beside the 6-foot-4 guard from Provine High School to connect on three-point attempts as well.
Ole Miss frustrated Bulldogs junior forward Arnett Moultrie, a finalist for the John Wooden Award, as the transfer from the University of Texas at El Paso played all but four minutes of the first half but managed just two shots and two points heading into the locker room. Despite achieving his tenth double-double effort of the season, 10 points and 12 rebounds, the 6-foot-11 post presence had just two offensive rebounds and Rebels forward Murphy Holloway was forced to shoot from beyond 10 feet from the basket.
Reginald Buckner was the key for Kennedy securing his first win against MSU since 2009 after the junior from Memphis, Tenn., finished with a career-high 19 points and 15 rebounds and three blocks in 37 minutes of action.
As MSU (15-4, 2-2) attempts to maintain any hope of not only contending for an SEC championship but also secure a likely at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, it's the inability to steal victories away from Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville is seen a major black mark to its current portfolio in the 2011-12 season. All of those aspects to MSU right now have to be seen as unknowns going forward in the 2011-12 season.
In its first signs of offensive impatience this year, MSU settled for taking 29 shots from beyond the three-point arc with MSU only connecting on 10 of those attempts and a large total of those shots coming with no or one passes throughout the possession.
"They played a lot of zone......but yes that's a bunch of (three-point) shots," Stansbury said. "You got to come away with possessions where you're either getting fouled or something good. We left a couple get away on transition, that's for sure.
A major reason for the confusion on the offensive end was MSU guard Dee Bost being guarded by Henry either in man or at the top of Ole Miss' zone defense.
The length of the six-inch height advantage forced Bost to continue his offensive slump by forcing the Bulldogs senior leader to shoot just 4-for-15 and not covert a single two-point field goal the entire evening.
MSU became the eighth ranked team in the last five days to lose a game.
What we heard?
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury:
"Anywhere you go on the road it's difficult. "It's never easy up here because it's normally a tough team and a great atmosphere. They had them both going tonight."
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy:
"I thought (Buckner) was obviously the difference in the game. He gave us a great presence at the basket and rebounded for us. By far Reg's best overall game of the season when we needed the most."
Mississippi State freshman guard Rodney Hood:
""It just comes down to toughness. We haven't our type of basketball on the road. We have to get stops consecutively."
Jan. 18 at Vanderbilt (13-4, 3-0 in SEC play), 6 p.m., ESPN2
Hey remember this preseason conference favorite? Wasn't sure if you'd forgotten them after the Commodores fell out of the polls without senior center Festus Ezeli and nonconference home losses to Cleveland State, Indiana State. Following the rocky start to the season, Vandrbilt have won seven games in a row culminating with a 77-66 win against Georgia Saturday.
"We've started to earn a little bit of swagger, especially on defense. Ever since Christmas, we said we were going to start a new season and we did and it's been great," said Ezeli. "We're focused on right now. We're focused on us. We're trying to get better and be the best team that we can be."
Vanderbilt is led by preseason All-SEC guard John Jenkins. The 6'4 guard figures to be a tough matchup for whoever tries to guard him. For the season, Jenkins averages 19.8 points per game, which leads the SEC, on 48% shooting from the field. He put up 20 points against the Tide last season.
Joining him on the wing is senior Jeffery Taylor, who was lethal against the Tide in Nashville a year ago. He scored 19 points, and nailed 4 of his 5 three point attempts. On the season, Taylor is averaging just under 17 points per game on 54% shooting from the field.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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