Mississippi State led Ole Miss 53-52 with 11:18 to go in the game when Rebel Trey Hampton wasn't able to get a layup to fall. Bulldog Barry Stewart came down and nailed a 3-pointer to make it 56-52 MSU with 10:34 to go.
Counting that trey for the Bulldogs, State outscored the Rebels 10-0 to lead 63-52 with 6:58 left. After that the going was even tougher for Ole Miss.
The MSU lead was 70-54 with 4:24 left on a jumper by Dietric Slater. The Rebels only got it to within nine a couple of times the rest of the way.
"Give Ole Miss a lot of credit," said veteran MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "Andy Kennedy had them well prepared. They played awful well. I didn't think we were as sharp as we have been. Sometimes you have to find a way. I thought in the last 13 to 14 minutes we played awfully tough. We are happy to get a win tonight."
The Rebels shot the ball early and often, taking some good shots but not wasting much time when in possession of the basketball. The Rebels shot it 76 times, making 25 for a 33 percent effort. From 3-point range, Ole Miss shot it 32 times and made 11, a 34 percent effort.
Kennedy said his team wasn't getting much inside, so it had to rely on things outside.
"We're grasping for straws and trying to find a way to win games," he said. "Some of our shots are ill-advised. But our front line has got to give us more. It's got to get better."
The Bulldogs led 41-36 at halftime. The Rebels never led in the second half. A 12-foot jumper in the lane by Clarence Sanders pulled Ole Miss to within that one point deficit at 53-52. But they never could get the lead.
Kennedy said his team didn't have it down the stretch.
"I just thought Mississippi State played harder than we did, at least from my perspective," he said. "We've got to find a way to finish. Right now we're not doing that."
Stansbury's Bulldogs improved to 10-5 and 1-1.
"I was concerned because Ole Miss is so experienced," he said. "Their top seven players are seniors and juniors. Their perimeter guys are all seniors. They play them a lot of minutes. They're about as good as any three around. But there are sometimes stretches they don't score. There was a stretch there in the second half when that happened."
Todd Abernethy led Ole Miss with 20 points. Clarence Sanders had 17, Bam Doyne 12, and Dwayne Curtis 10.
Kennedy said Doyne and Sanders have to make more shots if they are going to shoot that many.
"Our two top scorers were 9 for 39," he said. "You won't beat Mississippi State or Mississippi School for the Blind if you do that."
Mississippi State was led by Charles Rhodes with 17 points. The Bulldogs went to the free throw line 35 times and made 21. UM was there but 10 times and made six.
State shot 49 percent (26-53) from the floor, including 4 of 15 from 3-point range.
Kennedy said he will obviously work hard to keep his team headed in the right direction. But nothing will cure some of their ills like a victory.
"My team is pretty fragile, physically and mentally," he said. "I don't really like the predicament we're in. But I'm not much of a back-slapper, telling people it's going to be OK. I like to be honest and tell guys some areas we need addressing. With this group I'm learning every day. We've hit some adversity. We've lost three in a row. There are going to be nights when you run up against a good team and you play well, and they're just going to play better. I think Mississippi State is very talented, and we knew it was going to be a monumental task coming in here. But we're not playing as well we we're capable. If we do that, then I think we all can live with the result."
The Rebels host Arkansas Saturday at 4 p.m. in Oxford.
Dogs pull away from Rebs in second half
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