Todd says beating MSU special after struggles

Ole Miss and Mississippi State might not be through playing each other this men's basketball season. They could meet in the SEC tourney or beyond. But just in case they are finished, Todd Abernethy has already done a little reflecting.

As a matter of fact, he did so prior to Tuesday night's ESPN nationally-televised 85-73 Rebel victory over the Bulldogs in Oxford before an announced crowd of 8,415.

"I thought about it during the day," said the Carmel, Ind., native after he poured in 19 points with 10 assists and four rebounds. "It's been tough every time we've played them. They've had some great teams."

His first two seasons, Todd didn't experience a win over the Bulldogs as State went 4-0 against Ole Miss. Last year Ole Miss won the first game between the two in Oxford before losing later in the season in Starkville.

On Jan. 10, 2007, State got the better of Ole Miss again with a 77-67 win at Humphrey Coliseum on the MSU campus.

Tuesday night's win at C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum was indeed sweet, according to Abernethy.

"It feels so good," said the son of a former Indiana basketball player, and one who grew up with the Hoosiers-Purdue Boilermakers rivalry as his big instate matchup. "We were at home this time, and we wanted to go out with a win."

The "we" Todd referred to are the three Ole Miss seniors - Bam Doyne, Clarence Sanders, and himself. Abernethy and Doyne have experienced these UM-MSU wars together for four years. Sanders joined the lineup last season after junior college.

"This was big for Bam, Clay (Sanders' nickname), and me," Abernethy said, not only talking about winning the game but also how well they all three played in this one. "I knew Clarence was hot before the game. I could just tell. And Bam played well. We got it done tonight."

Doyne ended the game as the Rebels' leading scorer with 23 points, while Sanders had 22.

The Rebels, now 14-8 on the season and 3-5 in SEC play, are in the hunt for an SEC Western Division title halfway through the conference season. No SEC West team currently has a winning league mark. The Rebs play at Auburn on Saturday at 1 p.m.

If the UM seniors can continue to play as they did against MSU, watch out for these Rebels.

"We're a dangerous team when we're all three on," Abernethy said of the trio.

On Tuesday night against the arch-rivals, they clearly were that.

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