Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson dunks over Mississippi State guard Tevin Moore Saturday during a 82-63 blowout win in Oxford. Photo by: Associated Press photo
January 25, 2014 7:46:19 PM
OXFORD - Three powerful words was all Mississippi State coach Rick Ray needed to say Saturday about his team's effort in a 82-63 blowout loss at Ole Miss.
"We didn't compete," Ray said with his head down.
It's just becoming plainly obvious this MSU team is two completely different squads depending on where they're playing the actual game. And Ray made it plainly clear at Tad Smith Coliseum that he's tired of watching the Mr. Hyde version of his program away from Starkville.
"Every time we go and play somebody good on the road, it's not even a ball game," Ray said. "I have no idea (why). If I knew that, I'd try to adjust (but) I can't put my thumb on it."
MSU lost points in the paint, points committed more turnovers and lost essentially every hustle category Saturday afternoon leading to its 12 straight road loss.
MSU (13-6, 3-3 in Southeastern Conference) saw its record drop to 0-4 in true road games this year with losses at Utah State, Kentucky, Alabama and most recently to its hated in-state rival. The last time MSU has gone this long without winning a true road game was the 1996-97 season and that Bulldogs team finished 11-18.
"I don't like losing (and so) it'll be addressed,"MSU freshman point guard IJ Ready said of his team's play on the road. "Not in a bad way but it'll be addressed as a team. We have to stay on the same page."
In the first half, Ole Miss (14-5, 5-1 in SEC) got non-stop penetration into the lane against MSU's myriad of defenses as the Rebels guards accounted for 28 of their 38 points in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs only earned five free throws attempts in the first half as opposed to the 42 attempts they had from the charity stripe in the win over Ole Miss in Starkville earlier this month.
With 16 minutes and 9 seconds remaining in the game, Ray removed all five starters at once with his team down 45-30. For nearly four minutes of game time, MSU played with three walk-ons (Tyson Cunningham, Tevin Moore and De'Runnya Wilson) while Ole Miss stretched the lead out to over 20 points.
"Those guys weren't playing very well and we wanted to put in some guys that would go in there and compete," Ray said. "I'm trying to win so there was no message."
Ole Miss senior guard Marshall Henderson, who missed the game in Starkville due to a university mandated suspension, was one of two Rebels players with 19 points despite being just 2 of 12 from beyond the three-point arc.
Ray was infuriated by Henderson's ability to take whatever defender he saw to the basket and beat MSU with what would have to be considered his secondary scoring option.
"There's no reason on Earth that should be beaten off the bounce by Marshall Henderson," Ray said. "I understand when he's coming off all these screens but you can't get beat off the bounce. That's inexcusable."
The 19-point margin of victory for the Rebels was its largest against a SEC opponents since their 88-55 win over Auburn in Oxford on Feb. 23, 2013. The only two times Ray has visited Tad Smith Coliseum he's seen his team leave with losses averaging 18.5 points.
"I'm upset and I don't know what the mood in the locker room is right now because I didn't give them a opportunity to see what the mood is," Ray said. "We have to find a way to compete on the road."
The road doesn't get any easier for MSU as they'll host No. 6 Florida (17-2, 6-0) for a 6 p.m. Thursday as the Gators are the only team left in the SEC with a perfect conference record. The Gators are currently projected as a 2-seed in the ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi's latest NCAA tournament bracket projection.
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