Rebels at full-strength for Senior Day rematch with Mississippi State
Though Ole Miss lost to Mississippi State in the first meeting between both programs on Jan. 23, the Rebels were without Stefan Moody, Sebastian Saiz and Martavious Newby. All three will be on the court for the next matchup between the two.
During Monday’s SEC Men’s Basketball Teleconference, Bulldogs’ first-year head coach Ben Howland indicated how tough the rematch with Ole Miss (18-11, 8-8 Southeastern Conference) will be when the two rivals take the court on Wednesday (6:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network) in The Pavilion.
“They are at full-strength now,” Howland said of the Ole Miss players. “That game that we played here in Starkville could have gone either way. We were fortunate to actually win the game and that was our first conference win.”
Weatherspoon providing a spark for State
Since the 83-77 win over the Rebels, Mississippi State (13-15, 6-10) has gone 5-5 in the conference, thanks to four players who are averaging double figures: Gavin Ware (15.6 ppg), Craig Sword (13.0 ppg), Quinndary Weatherspoon (12.0 ppg) and Malik Newman (11.6 ppg).
Weatherspoon, who scored 14 points in the Bulldogs’ 68-58 home upset win against South Carolina on Saturday, has emerged as one of the young premier guards in the SEC this season. He currently leads the team in points per game during SEC play (14.8) and Rebels’ head coach Andy Kennedy thinks Weatherspoon has taken the steps to be a special player.
“I remember recruiting him out of high school and we were all intrigued with his talent,” Kennedy said about the 6-foot-4 freshman, Weatherspoon. “He had the physical attributes to come do what he has done in year one at this level. I give him great credit as I do the Mississippi State’s staff for developing him, putting him in great position to be successful.
“And then he has really surged to the forefront as the best freshman in all of our league with his play. I think once that kid got his legs under him and really started feeling confident about his ability to perform at this level, he’s been tremendous.”
Rebels look to rebound from loss to Georgia
While Mississippi State is starting to peak at the right time, the Rebels are hoping to hit their stride with two games remaining in the regular season in order to keep their NCAA tourney hopes alive.
Ole Miss lost on the road Saturday to Georgia, 80-66. At one time early in the second half, the Rebels led 49-41 before the Bulldogs answered with an 11-0 run for a 52-51 lead. Ole Miss committed 14 turnovers, which led to 22 points for Georgia.
“I was really disappointed in our second half against Georgia,” Kennedy said during Monday’s teleconference. “I believe we were like up seven or eight with 13 or 14 minutes left to play in the game and we got hit with a little bit of in-game adversity and didn’t respond the way I would have hoped, especially the way we were playing going into the game.”
Kennedy’s record is 7-2 all-time at Ole Miss on Senior Day:
Last home game for Stefan Moody
It will be the last home game for senior standout Moody, who has played a significant role in the Rebels’ basketball success.
A season ago, the shifty guard scored 26 points to help Ole Miss erase a 17-point deficit in one of the NCAA tournament’s play-in game and the Rebels defeated BYU, 94-90.
In the same season, Moody led the SEC in free-throw percentage (90.3) and finished fourth in scoring (16.6 ppg).
This season hasn’t been any different for the Kissimmee, Florida native, as Moody currently leads the league in points per game (22.8) and is shooting 83.5 percent from the charity stripe.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)