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Rebels too much for Bulldogs at Tad Pad

 

Matthew Stevens

 

Two words describe how the University of Mississippi men's basketball team disposed of Mississippi State University in a 93-75 victory before a capacity crowd of 8,299 at the Tad Smith Coliseum on Wednesday. 

 

After MSU (7-14, 2-7 Southeastern Conference) scored the first basket on a tip in by freshman center Gavin Ware, Ole Miss energized the crowd with the next 19 points.  

 

MSU committed eight turnovers in that four-minute stretch, as point guards Trivante Bloodman and Craig Sword were held scoreless for 24 minutes. The Bulldogs arrived in Oxford as the nation's worst team in assist-to-turnover ratio. They didn't help themselves in that statistical category with their seventh-straight loss, and sixth of the season by 15 points or more. The losing streak is the longest since 2006. 

 

"We didn't do a good job at all of taking anything away Ole Miss likes to do offensively," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "For this being a rivalry game, I don't think our guys came to play early." 

 

Ole Miss (18-4, 7-2) snapped a two-game losing streak that knocked it out of The Associated Press Top 25. Coming off a challenging week and losses to the University of Kentucky and No. 4 University of Florida, Ole Miss drove past perimeter defenders for layups or dunks en route to a 57.7-percent shooting effort (15 of 26) in the first half. Ole Miss led 42-23 at halftime, and shot 50.8 percent (30 of 59) from the field. 

 

"We had to stop the bleeding here," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy "We've got a tough stretch and needed to have a game where things went our way. I disappointed we just coasted in the second half." 

 

Ole Miss also had 12 more free throws (11 of 16) in the first 20 minutes. The Rebels were 27 of 36 (75 percent) from the line. MSU was 14 of 20 (70). 

 

"I can't say what happened defensively, but I know it wasn't very good. Yes, it felt like 93 points," Sword said.  

 

Senior forward Murphy Holloway, who entered the game as the only player in the SEC averaging a double-double (14.6 points, 10.1 rebounds per game), hit his first six shots and outscored MSU's frontcourt 14-13 in the first half. He finished with 24 points and eight rebounds.  

 

"The way Holloway got going was slipping off the screens for Marshall Henderson because our goal was to hold (Henderson) down as best we could," MSU junior guard Jalen Steele said. "That didn't happen." 

 

Henderson, the SEC's scoring leader, was 1 of 7 from the field in the first half, but he was 7 of 11 in the second half and finished with 31 points. He was 6 of 14 from 3-point range. 

 

"I know it doesn't look like it on the stat sheet, but I really think our lack of defense tonight was the fact we forgot about the four players on the court who weren't Marshall Henderson," Sword said.  

 

At halftime, Ole Miss honored its football team. The squad's seniors and coach Hugh Freeze showed off the Conerly Trophy, BBVA Compass Bowl trophy, and Egg Bowl trophy at center court. Quarterback Bo Wallace won the Connerly Trophy, which is given to the state's top football player. Ole Miss defeated the University of Pittsburgh 38-17 on Jan. 5, 2013, in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5, 2013, in Birmingham, Ala. It beat MSU 41-24 in the regular-season finale Nov. 24, 2012, in Oxford. 

 

Ware, who was expected to go against Ole Miss' experienced and physical frontcourt, picked up three fouls in a little more than four minutes. He played only 17 minutes and had four points and seven rebounds before fouling out. Forward Colin Borchert (nine points, five rebounds) also fouled out in 24 minutes. MSU committed 27 fouls to Ole Miss' 17. 

 

With MSU forced to go with a smaller lineup that included Columbus native Tyson Cunningham at power forward, Ole Miss went inside and had a 26-12 advantage in points in the paint in the first half. MSU sophomore forward Roquez Johnson picked up his fourth foul with 12 minutes, 23 seconds remaining. Johnson fouled out with eight points and four rebounds in 25 minutes. 

 

"I guess I have to do a better job teaching our big guys to defend without fouling because we did a really poor job," Ray said.  

 

The 18-point victory marked Ole Miss' largest in the series in nearly 16 years. It earned an 84-61 on Feb. 19, 1997 in Oxford.  

 

"Maybe we don't have enough Mississippi guys on our team for it to matter to them," Ray said. "I can tell you it matters to me." 

 

Sword paced MSU with 17 points. Steele added 15 points, while Fred Thomas added 13 points and six rebounds. Bloodman had five assists, four turnovers, and three steals, while Sword had three assists and four turnovers. MSU had 14 assists and 17 turnovers. 

 

Reginald Buckner (12 points, seven rebounds) and Jarvis Summers (11 points, five assists, four rebounds) also scored in double figures for Ole Miss. The Rebels had a 46-40 edge in points in the paint. 

 

MSU will play at 4 p.m. Saturday (Fox Sports South) at No. 2 Florida. It will try to avoid its first eight-game skid since 1987 when it went 7-21 and 3-15 in the SEC in Richard Williams' first season. 

 

 

 

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