Undermanned Ole Miss team drops 83-77 road game to MSU
Starkville, MS – Despite being short three of its top players due to injury, Ole Miss found a way to stay in it with Mississippi State until the closing seconds of the game; however, the Rebels came up just short as freshman Malik Newman had a career day for the Bulldogs.
Newman scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs to an 83-77 win inside Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to end MSU’s five-game losing streak in the Southeastern Conference. Rasheed Brooks led Ole Miss with 20 points.
After trailing 76-65 with 2:36 to play, Ole Miss (12-7, 2-5) closed the gap to 79-75 off a layup by Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey, but a late dunk by senior big man Gavin Ware pushed the Bulldogs’ lead back up to 81-75 and ultimately sealed the win in front of the announced crowd of 8,932.
After a mediocre first half, Newman torched Ole Miss from the 3-point line, draining two early 3’s in the second half that followed with a three from I.J. Ready and a floater from Craig Sword. Newman’s third triple put MSU up 50-48, but the Rebels fought back to tie it at 57 off Anthony Perez’s 3 then tied it once again at 59 off a layup by Rasheed Brooks. Then MSU (8-10, 1-5) ran off 11 straight points to build a 70-59 lead.
“I was really proud of the effort, we really battled,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said afterwards.
Newman made a total of seven 3’s against Ole Miss and feels the win was much-needed after coming up three points short at Florida on Tuesday night.
“It feels great to get our first win in league play, especially against a rivalry team,” said Newman, who was 8 for 16 from the field. “I think the guys gave everything they had tonight and it was everything we needed.”
Rebels hit 10 three-pointers in the game
There were questions on how the Rebels would find ways to score without three of its captains (Stefan Moody, Sebastian Saiz, and Martavious Newby), but Ole Miss managed, thanks to its 3-point shooting.
Brooks made four of the Rebels’ 10 3’s. Perez was a perfect 3 for 3 from deep and Tomasz Gielo was 2 for 4 from 3-point range. Following Brooks, who led all Ole Miss scorers, Fitzpatrick had 16, Perez 14, and Sam Finley 10.
Finley, who hasn’t seen much action since Moody took over the point guard position, provided a spark off the bench, scoring all of his six first-half points from the charity stripe. Finley’s first two made foul shots had the Rebels up 18-17.
Then both programs began trading blows on the offensive end.
Bulldogs’ freshman Quinndary Weatherspoon kept MSU in the mix with his ability to get to the paint to draw fouls. Perez’s 3 from the corner capped a 7-0 run for Ole Miss, which held a 38-32 lead.
Weatherspoon had 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting for MSU, while Ware added 14 points, two blocks, one steal, and one assist. Weatherspoon scored the game’s final four points before halftime to cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 38-36 at intermission.
MSU’s 15 turnovers were a problem for the Bulldogs but lucky for Howland’s group, the Rebels scored only 14 off of them.
Ole Miss: Rasheed Brooks was asked about the offense without his teammate Moody, who sat out with a hamstring injury and is day-to-day. “I just wish Moody was out there.”
Mississippi State: Bulldogs’ coach Ben Howland heard about the rivalry prior to taking the job in the off season, and it seems one of his main goals was to beat Ole Miss. “Nothing is more important to Mississippi State than beating Ole Miss. I was told that when I got the job.”
The Bulldogs went 15 for 17 from the line. MSU held the Rebels to 38.1 percent shooting (24 of 63).
Ole Miss hosts Auburn on Wednesday at 6:00 pm (CT).
Feature image credit: Kelly Price, MSU Athletic Media Relations