“Our guys played well enough to get a win,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “Ole Miss had way too many offensive rebounds and too many extra possessions. They shot better than 50 percent from the field in the second half. We did a good job sometimes rebounding the ball. We have to get to the free throw line more. They got to it 37 times and we got to it 11 times. We have to be better at that.”
MSU shot 55.6 percent from the field – its first game above 50 percent in league play and fourth overall. The offensive efforts were led by Craig Sword, who had a season-high 27 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers.
Gavin Ware overcame early foul trouble to add 12 points for the Bulldogs, while I.J. Ready was also in double figures with 10 points.
MSU started strong and built a 16-4 lead. Ole Miss responded with a 17-2 run to take a brief first-half lead. MSU surged back ahead to carry a 32-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Bulldogs again started strong in the second half and stretched the lead to a game-best advantage of 45-32 with 16:29 left in the contest. Ole Miss still trailed by nine points at 54-45 before putting together a game-changing run. The teams were tied at 60 before Ole Miss took the lead for good at 64-62 after two free throws by Jarvis Summers.
The game’s critical play took place minutes later when Summers drew a foul on a made 3-point shot attempt. The four-point play pushed the UM lead to 71-65 with 3:15 left to play.
Summers, Ole Miss’ second-leading scorer, was held scoreless in the first half but finished with a team-high 22 points.
"Oliver (Black) did an outstanding job of helping us out when the other guys were in foul trouble,” Ray said. “Chicken (Sword) was great. He really did so many things well that gave us a chance in the game.”
For the contest, MSU hit 30 of 54 shots from the field (55.6 percent), 7 of 18 shots from 3-point range (38.9 percent) and 6 of 11 shots from the foul line (54.5 percent). Ole Miss hit 22 of 55 shots from the field (40.0 percent), 6 of 20 shots from 3-point range (30.0 percent) and 29 of 37 shots from the foul line (78.4 percent).
MSU held a 34-31 rebounding advantage. The Maroon and White have now out-rebounded five straight conference opponents. The Bulldogs had 15 assists (second most in a game) and 16 turnovers, while the Rebels had 12 assists and six turnovers.
Stefan Moody had 14 points and Ladarius White had 12 points for Ole Miss.
MSU returns home to face LSU Saturday in a “White Out” game at Humphrey Coliseum. Game time is 1 p.m. with a national telecast available on the SEC Network.