Moody’s career night leads Rebels to 86-78 win over Mississippi State
OXFORD – When Stefan Moody came out of the tunnel, he knew it would be his last time playing in front of Ole Miss fans inside The Pavilion. He just wanted to make it a special game to remember.
And the 5-foot-10 senior did that with his 3-point shooting.
Kennedy: ‘It was a special night’
Moody scored a career-high 43 points and led Ole Miss (19-11, 9-8 Southeastern Conference) to the 86-78 win over Mississippi State on Senior Day Wednesday night. Moody’s point total tied for 13th-most points scored in a game at the university. (Click here for Box Score.)
“It was a special night,” said Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy in his opening words following his team’s win. “Obviously for Moody, he understood the importance of the game. He told me before the game, ‘hey coach, I never lost to Mississippi State.’
“I didn’t think about that but he didn’t play in our first game this year. I guess he wanted to stay the course.”
Moody did stay the course, by going 11-for-24 from the field, including a 6-for-12 effort from 3-point range. But the team, as a whole, had to fight off the Bulldogs in the final minutes.
Rebels answer Mississippi State’s run
After trailing by double digits for most of the night, Mississippi State looked to gain some type of momentum from midway through the second half with a 3-pointer by freshman guard Quinndary Weatherspoon. The Rebels’ lead was 66-57 with 8:31 left, but Sebastian Saiz’s jumper quickly put Ole Miss up by double figures and gave the Rebels the breathing room they were looking for.
But the Bulldogs refused to go away.
Mississippi State (13-16, 6-11) cut the lead to 77-71 with 1:22 left, following two foul shots by Weatherspoon, but the Rebels quickly responded with a Moody-assisted, Saiz layup. The Bulldogs had opportunities at the rim, but Ole Miss’ defensive pressure forced Mississippi State into awkward predicaments.
The Bulldogs had 18 turnovers, which turned into 17 points for the Rebels. Mississippi State was 27-for-59 from the field and could find no steady pace in the game.
“I thought their defense really bothered us,” Bulldogs’ head coach Ben Howland said. “We had too many turnovers. Eighteen turnovers isn’t going to win on the road against a good team.”
Moody wanted to go out as a champion and the best way to make completely sure that happened was to shoot lights out against a confident Mississippi State team that had won the first meeting, 83-77, earlier this season inside Humphrey Coliseum.
Howland on Moody: ‘We had no answer for him’
The Bulldogs trailed from the opening tip as Moody took matters into his own hands with his sharp-shooting, scoring 11 of the Rebels’ first 14 points.
“We had no answer for him,” Howland said of Moody.
Coach Howland on Stefan Moody
But the Rebels committed four turnovers on Ole Miss’ next set of possessions that allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game 14-all. A transition dunk by Weatherspoon, layups by Gavin Ware and Travis Daniels were the results of those miscues.
Both programs continued to trade baskets for the next five-and-a-half minutes with the Rebels holding a slight 28-24 edge.
Moody drained three free throws after being fouled by Weatherspoon on a 3-point attempt from the right wing. His next attempt from deep cost the Bulldogs, and their coach called a timeout. Moody’s next three from the left wing belongs on a highlight reel: a swift crossover and a dribble behind the back before hitting the 3 that gave Ole Miss a 38-27 lead with 5:32 left in the first half.
“Give us credit, we tried hard defensively tonight,” Howland said. “Just didn’t have an answer for Moody.”
Ware led the Bulldogs with 28 points and had nine rebounds. Weatherspoon had 15; Craig Sword added 10.
In addition to Moody’s 43, Saiz and Anthony Perez each had 10 points apiece for Ole Miss. Gielo added seven, while Newby and Marcanvis Hymon added six each. Fitzpatrick-Dorsey and Rasheed Brooks notched two apiece.
For the record
Moody’s 43 points ties LSU’s Ben Simmons for the most points in a game this season–and is the 3rd-most points scored in an SEC game in the last 20 seasons.
Ole Miss travels to Tennessee on Saturday.
Mississippi State hosts Auburn on Saturday.
(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.