January 12, 2019 11:33:34 PM
STARKVILLE -- Robert Woodard II, Reggie Perry, and Blake Hinson made an impression in their first installment of the Mississippi State-Ole Miss rivalry.
Woodard II and Perry did most of their damage in the first half for the Bulldogs, who led by two points at halftime.
But Hinson ultimately had the upper hand, pouring in a game-high 26 points in Ole Miss' 81-77 victory against No. 14 MSU in a Southeastern Conference game before a crowd of 10,021 at Humphrey Coliseum.
"I was just kind of feeling it, and my teammates looking for me, too," Hinson said. "Every time I came into the huddle they said, 'Just keep shooting it.' They kept feeding it to me and they were finding me open. I was feeling it, and they knew I was feeling it, too, so they were giving it to me to shoot."
Hinson was 8-for-16 from the field, including 5-for-11 from 3-point range. He eclipsed his previous career high of 17 with a career-best day from behind the arc.
"He puts in so much work," Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. "Blake is there every day early. ... Good things happen to guys that work like he does."
After the game, Hinson, who was one of three Rebels to get a technical foul, admitted he probably showed a little too much emotion. KJ Buffen and Bruce Stevens also were called for technical fouls, as was MSU's Nick Weatherspoon.
Davis apologized for the technical fouls, and said it was a long, long, long time since he has had players get them.
MSU coach Ben Howland wasn't pleased with his the Bulldogs guarded -- or tried to guard -- Hinson.
"We did, obviously, a horrible job on Blake Hinson," Howland said. "We knew what we was -- he was a 3-point shooter The first one he made in the second half, we were playing off of him, which is just inexcusable. This is two games in a row where we have had the power forward on the opposing team have career nights against our defense.
"I have always been a coach that believes defense wins first. We really have done a poor job defending here the last few games."
Woodard II and Perry provided a lift off the bench of MSU (12-3, 0-2 SEC). Woodard II scored on a dunk off an assist from Lamar Peters, hit a jumper off a pass from Aric Holman, and drained a jump shot off a crossover dribble in which he was fouled and converted the three-point play.
"It is all about being ready," Woodard II said. "Whenever your name is called, be ready to contribute and give coach whatever he wants and needs to help his team win.
The former Columbus High School standout and two-time Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year did his damage in eight minutes. Woodard II played only one minute in the second half.
Howland took the blame for that, saying he needs to do a better job using Woodard II at the four (power forward), especially when the Bulldogs need to get out to the perimeter to defend the 3-point arc.
Perry had seven points, seven rebounds -- including at least one "grown-man rebound" when he went over an Ole Miss player to snare the ball and score -- and two steals in 21 minutes.
Howland also wasn't pleased with the Bulldogs' 15 turnovers. Those mistakes contributed to the Rebels' 18-11 edge in points off turnovers. That advantage helped negate the Bulldogs' 38-26 difference in points in the paint and their 38-30 rebounding edge.
'We had too many turnovers, especially out of our two main ballhandlers," Howland said, referring to Quinndary Weatherspoon (five) and Peters (four). The Rebels had 10. "We have to do a better job of having more trust and patience offensively with one another."
Nick Weatherspoon's third foul came on his technical foul.
"I thought we got emotional tonight," Howland said. "Nick's third foul on the technical was really a tough break for us in the first half because it kept him out of the game, and it kept him from starting the second half. He is our best perimeter defender."
Staying in the game
MSU appeared to have control in the first half when it took a 32-21 lead on Peters' 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 37 seconds to go.
But MSU went 3-for-8 from the field down the stretch. Nick Weatherspoon picked up his technical foul at the 5:19 mark and missed the rest of the half. The Bulldogs also committed four turnovers -- a charge by Quinndary Weatherspoon, Abdul Ado missed a pass from Peters in the lane, a travel by Holman, and a force by Peters on a one-on-one move to end the half.
"I thought the last six minutes was the key to the whole game," Davis said. "Mississippi State had momentum, TD (Terence Davis) got his third (foul), and I just thought we kind of held tight. Devontae Shuler made some big plays at the end of the first half. We finally went to a zone and got them stopped somewhat."
Praise for Shuler
Devontae Shuler was the lowest of the Rebels' double-figure scorers with 10 points. The sophomore guard also had six rebounds, one assists, and three turnovers in 36 minutes.
As one of Ole Miss' primary ballhandlers, Davis said Shuler has played a key role in the team's 3-0 start in SEC play.
"Devontae plays Most Valuable Player minutes for us every game," Davis said.
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Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.