Moody’s 43-point performance against Mississippi State indictates he’s 100 percent
OXFORD – It is safe to say that Stefan Moody’s left hamstring isn’t a concern anymore, and his explosiveness on and off the basketball is without question after his 43-point performance in Wednesday night’s 86-78 Senior Day win against Mississippi State.
Before Moody’s scoring show began, the senior class of Moody, Martavious Newby, Anthony Perez, and Tomasz Gielo, was the center of attention during a pregame celebration of their accomplishments as Rebels.
Then it was time for the Stefan Moody show.
Fans watched as shot after shot fell. It was hard to keep count of all Moody’s field goals as Ole Miss (19-11, 9-8 Southeastern Conference) kept pounding away at Mississippi State.
Moody finished 11-of-24 from the field, including 6-of-12 from the 3-point line.
But the Kissimmee, Florida native could only watch from the Rebels’ bench in the first meeting of the two teams Jan. 23 in Starkville, as he was recovering from a hamstring injury. Going into the second meeting, Moody knew how important the heated rivalry between the two Mississippi schools was, especially since he hadn’t loss to the Bulldogs during his time in Oxford. He did not want to end his career with a loss to the Rebels’ in-state rival.
So, he got off to a sizzling start and never looked back.
Moody scored 11 of the Rebels’ first 14 points with nine of them coming from beyond the 3-point line. Then with Ole Miss leading 28-24 with 7:26 left in the first half, Moody connected on three free throws that gave his team the breathing room it needed and helped slow down the early productivity of Mississippi State (13-16, 6-11).
Moody’s fourth three-pointer of the night gave the Rebels a comfortable 38-27 lead with 5:32 left in the first half and was part of an 11-3 run. His coach, Andy Kennedy, predicted Moody will become the first player in the state of Mississippi to win two-consecutive Bailey Howell Awards—given to the state’s top men’s collegiate basketball player.
“He definitely solidified that tonight,” Kennedy responded regarding Moody’s chances of winning another Howell trophy. “He was in great rhythm early, really led us with his energy.”
Moody had 24 points – on 7-for-13 shooting – after the first 20 minutes, and he was a huge piece of his team’s 16-8 run to end the first half.
So was Moody keeping up with his stat sheet?
“Not really. I kind of just play,” said Moody, whose 43-points against Mississippi State was a career-high and tied him with LSU’s Ben Simmons for most points scored by a player in the SEC this season. “I will figure it out when I figure it out. It’s not something I think about. I just get it up when I can.”
Wednesday night wasn’t the only moment Moody has scored at least 40 points and made his opponent’s defense look weary. In his senior year of high school at Poinciana, he recalled scoring 53 points. But it is doubtful he has enough fingers to count his total number of big games.
“To be honest, I probably have done it so many times, I can’t even pinpoint a specific game,” said Moody, who was the only double-digit scorer for the Rebels in the first half.
Kennedy was asked to describe his star player in one word. His response: “One word that pops off my head is ‘explosive.’ He jumps off the page at you. He’s the ultimate playmaker, and we have had to depend on him a lot this year.”
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.