With the Bulldog players thinking about the last-second, game-tying bucket which led to a loss in Alabama a few weeks ago, Zimmerman knew he wasn't going to allow that to happen again.
"I just said, 'We're not going to lose this game,'" the senior said. "I was thinking, 'Get to the basket as quick as I can and make the shot,'"
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said the Bulldogs ran the play to perfection.
"There was no second option," he said.
Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said he put his best defender, Sanders, on Zimmerman because he figured Mississippi State would want its speedy point guard to take the last shot.
After a desperate shot from the halfcourt by Ole Miss' Aaron Harper was short and wide, Zimmerman, with emotions running high, stood at mid-court, raised his arms in celebration, then pointed toward the Ole Miss student section. Several of his teammates joined him in the celebration. The student responded by throwing empty cups and water bottles toward the excited Bulldog players. Although Zimmerman was hit by one, no damage was done except to the pride of the Ole Miss students and the rest of the Ole Miss fans in the crowd of 9,088.
"It was scary, but it was pretty cool," Zimmerman said with a sly smile. "You've always got to show your emotions in these type of games."
Now winners of three straight SEC games after losing their first three to start the SEC schedule, the Bulldogs are now 3-3 in SEC play. The Rebels, winners of three straight prior to the loss, are also 3-3 in the SEC. Ole Miss had won 101 of their last 111 games in the "Tad Pad" and against ranked teams had gone 18-5 and against SEC teams the last three seasons were 17-3.
Justin Reed led Ole Miss on both ends with 17 points and four blocked shots, and Sanders added 14 points.
Mississippi State shot 53.3 percent and Ole Miss made 50 percent of its shots. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Rebels by 10, 29-19.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (13-4) O.Harper 3-6 0-0 7, Ignerski 3-4 0-0 6, Austin 7-12 2-6 16, Zimmerman 5-10 2-2 12, Bowers 5-8 3-4 15, Campbell 0-1 0-0 0, COwherd 0-0 0-0 0, Frazier 0-1 0-0 0, Vincent 1-3 0-2 2, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-45 7-14 58.
MISSISSIPPI (12-5) A.Harper 4-10 0-0 11, Reed 7-13 0-0 17, Allen 2-5 2-2 6, Pearson 1-1 0-0 2, Sanders 6-9 0-0 14, Fox 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Gunn 1-1 0-0 2, Wade 2-5 1-1 5, Rhodes 0-0 0-0 0, Loe 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-46 3-3 57.
Halftime -- Mississippi St. 33-30. 3-Point goals -- Mississippi St. 3-6 (Bowers 2-3, O.Harper 1-2, Zimmerman 0-1), Mississippi 8-22 (Reed 3-6, A.Harper 3-8, Sanders 2-4, Loe 0-2, Wade 0-2). Fouled out -- None. Rebounds -- Mississippi St. 29 (Austin 8), Mississippi 19 (Harper 4). Assists -- Mississippi St. 13 (Zimmerman 6), Mississippi 14 (Loe 4). Total fouls -- Mississippi St. 10, Mississippi 16. A -- 9,088.
About the win.
"I'm just proud for our players. We got off to a very tough 0-3 start (in SEC play). We could have started to doubt ourselves if we had listen to everybody else but we hung in there and continued to believe. We had won the last two coming into here. We knew coming here was going to be tough because Ole Miss has a very good basketball team. We knew it was going to be a war. Our team deserved to win the basketball game. It was one of those games that would have hurt bad to have lost it. I thought that we controlled the game for 40 minutes. The difference was we missed 3 one-in-ones in the second half to allow the game to remain close and allowed them to hang around. Our kids found ways down the stretch. Our zone was very good for us (tonight)."
Rebounding decided the outcome of the game.
"This game was decided down in those trenches. Ole Miss beats most people in this house because they outrebound everybody. They beat you on the offensive boards. We came in here and outrebounded them 10 overall and allowed them 3 offensive rebounds. We had 11 ourselves. That was a huge key to the basketball ballgame."
About his team's 0-3 start in conference play.
"We as coaches understood who we had played and lost two. The media and fans just see 0-3. We could have won 1 or 2 of those games."
Defeating arch-rival Ole Miss in Oxford.
"To the fans and the media it is like winning 3 or 4 games. To the coaches and this team it counts as one win. There is no question that it is a special win because of who it is. Anytime you can go on the road and win, it means a lot to your basketball team."
Talking about Branden Vincent's and Lincoln Smith's play.
"Your team is made up of players who make the little plays. I thought that Branden Vincent played huge for us. He didn't score a lot or rebound a lot but he was great defensively. I thought that Lincoln Smith came in and played three great minutes defensively. As a matter of fact, we held the lead while he was in there. That allowed Mario (Austin) time to rest which I thought he needed to finish strong like he did."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at email@example.com